National mental health funding commitment to plug gaps left by NDIS

Amanda Lyons

25/06/2018 12:08:04 PM

An agreement between the Federal Government and Australia’s states and territories will see $160 million provided for additional psychosocial support services for people experiencing severe mental illness.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the new funding complements current programs without duplicating existing support. (Image: Stefan Postles)
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the new funding complements current programs without duplicating existing support. (Image: Stefan Postles)

The Federal Government will allocate $80 million in mental health funding on a population basis over four years, with state and territory governments matching the funding dollar for dollar.
‘This is about saving lives and protecting lives,’ Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said. ‘This new program complements current programs and does not duplicate support available from existing programs. 
‘The Commonwealth commitment will be delivered through the Primary Health Networks, and is on top of an additional $109.8 million announced for community mental health programs which are not eligible for the NDIS [National Disability Insurance Scheme].’
The national rollout of the NDIS has been dogged by problems and controversy, including concerns that Australians experiencing severe mental health issues could be left without access to services because of the way NDIS funding is structured.
Such concerns were further highlighted by the release of a report earlier this year, Mind the gap: The national disability insurance scheme and psychosocial disability, which identified a significant gap between the 690,000 Australians estimated to have a severe mental illness and the 64,000 intended to be covered by the NDIS for psychosocial disability.
Within this context, the funding announcement from the Federal Government is especially welcome news for the mental health care sector.
‘Today’s announcement demonstrates that leadership and investment from the Federal Government can bring states and territories to the table to get real action on closing gaps,’ Mental Health Australia Chief Executive Frank Quinlan said.
Research has shown that mental-health related GP encounters have been rising steadily over time; the RACGP’s General practice: Health of the nation 2017 report found psychological issues were the most common health problem managed in consultations, and were also considered to be the health issue causing GPs the most concern for the future.
RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel believes mental health care in general practice needs a boost in funding, as it is a frequent presentation requiring a significant amount of time for adequate treatment.
‘We have to be asking our patients, are you okay? And if we want a genuine dialogue and therapeutic conversations with our patients, we can’t do this in six minutes,’ Dr Seidel told newsGP last year.
‘It has to be properly funded.’

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Thelma   27/08/2018 2:45:35 PM

Has Mr. Hunt commented on the APS's new suggestions regarding a somewhat divisive recalibration of the Psychology profession? Where could I read about this?