CEO Update 2019 Budget - Mental health demands our ongoing attention and resources.
Mental health demands our ongoing attention and resources
In tonight’s Federal Budget speech, the Treasurer the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP said:
Mr Speaker, mental health is an issue of deep concern to all Australians.
It is a national tragedy that we lose so many people to suicide and that so many people live a life of quiet desperation.
Tonight I say: we hear you and we are with you.
This issue demands our ongoing attention and resources.
I could not agree more… and while Budget 2019 provides the funding impetus for some new and old mental health initiatives, this funding alone won’t fix our broken system. A system in need of much greater attention and resources.
In response to these deep concerns, the Government has made some important investments in tonight’s Budget. These measures include:
- Expanding Headspace ($262 million, over 7 years)
- Supporting Early Psychosis Youth Services ($110 million over 2 years)
- Indigenous Suicide Prevention ($14.5 million over 4 years)
- Early childhood and parenting support ($11.8 million)
- Community Mental Health Centres (114.5 million over 6 years)
- Residential Eating Disorders Centres ($63 million 7 years)
- Mentally Healthy Workplaces ($15.2 million over 4 years)
- Perinatal Mental Health ($44 million over 7 years)
- Natural Disaster Support ($5.5 million over 4 years)
- Projects including Mind Garden ($7 million), Roses in the Ocean (1.2 million, and HALT Suicide Prevention $2 million
It is unusual to see so many Budget Estimates made over seven years, well beyond the life of the formal Budget Estimates period of four years.
There are a number of further initiatives that go beyond funding existing programs to build the reform of the future:
- The establishment of a national Suicide Prevention Coordinator in the Prime Minister’s Department
- A new National Suicide Information System (lead by the AIHW) to provide more timely information to planners and to respond more quickly to suicide
If we believe the news, we won’t have long to wait for an election to be called. And we have already asked the Government, and the alternative Government, to outline their election policies for:
- Reaching out to people who are ill or with suicidal ideation but who are currently not seeking help, to actively connect them to services
- Ensuring that the experience of people living with mental health issues is the driving force for developing the programs and services of the future.
- Expanding community based services for people whose mental health issues prevent them from living a contributing life, whether they are inside or outside the NDIS
- Investing, on a national scale, in keeping people well, and encouraging them to seek help early
- Solving the challenge of Commonwealth Government versus State/Territory Government that sees constant disputes about who is responsible for what programs and services, resulting in all governments not investing at all.
We will continue to make these demands.
It is encouraging we continue to see investment in mental health while the Productivity Commission is conducting its landmark inquiry into mental health.
But tonight’s Budget will not transform our broken mental health system. Tonight’s Budget gives some programs a much needed boost but leaves some important challenges unaddressed.
We know there is much more to do.
The Treasurer was right tonight when he said “mental health is an issue of deep concern to all Australians… This issue demands our ongoing attention and resources…”
Let’s hope those deeply concerned Australians demand our major parties reflect those concerns when they formulate their election platforms in the coming weeks.
Chief Executive Officer
2019 Federal Budget Summary
Some of the key measures in the 2019 Federal Budget likely to be of interest to mental health stakeholders.
2019 Budget: Minister for Health the Hon Greg Hunt MP - Video
Minister for Health The Hon Greg Hunt MP was pleased to provide a short video brief on the key budget initiatives in the 2019 Federal Budget. Watch the video here.
2019 Budget: Mental Health Australia CEO, Frank Quinlan - Video
Mental Health Australia CEO Frank Quinlan looks at the 2019 Federal Budget mental health initiatives in more detail. Watch the video here.