Increased Federal funding to strengthen mental health services

Patients and local health workers on the Sunshine Coast will benefit to the tune of $53 million from the Liberal National Government’s record $1.45 billion funding for community mental health services, along with a change to the funding model. The new funding and reformed structure, announced this week, will ensure security for both jobs and services.

Federal Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace welcomed the announcement, and said the funding will be provided through the Government’s innovative 31 Primary Health Networks (PHNs).

“The Central Queensland, Wide Bay, Sunshine Coast PHN is expected to receive $53 million over a three period to help tailor services to meet the specific needs in our region and help deliver a stronger, more integrated mental health system.” Mr Wallace said.

“This funding is in addition to the support the Government has provided during the last two years for specialist mental health projects in Fisher, like the cutting edge research and treatment programs underway at the Thompson Institute, the $3.2 million eating disorder treatment pilot currently taking place in our community, and the Australia-first EndED Butterfly House in Mooloolah Valley. I am committed to improving the mental health of people on the Sunshine Coast. Today we can truly say that with the Federal Government’s support, our community is at the forefront of mental health treatment and research in Australia.” he said.   

It is estimated that one in five people in Australia experience a common mental disorder each year. Nearly half of the Australian population will experience mental illness at some point in their lives, but less than half will access treatment.

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt said at the announcement this week that PHNs coordinate local support for child and youth mental health, psychological therapy, severe and complex illness, community-based suicide prevention and Indigenous mental health.

“In 2017–18, about 200,000 Australians accessed over 900,000 mental health services through local providers commissioned by PHNs,” said Minister Hunt.

“The record three year $1.45 billion funding commitment will commence from July this year until 2021-22 and is $170 million more than what was provided for the previous three years.”

“It will continue to support important services such as headspace centres, psychological services for hard to reach groups, suicide prevention activities, mental health nurses and mental health support for older Australians.”

 It is estimated that the $1.45 billion funding includes:

  • $177 million for mental health nurses
  • $77 million for suicide prevention including Indigenous suicide
  • $74 million for the mental health of those in residential aged care
  • $89 million for Indigenous mental health
  • $617 million for youth mental health including headspace
  • $399 million for psychological therapies for hard to reach populations

Minster Hunt said the Government will also change the way that PHNs are funded to ensure that the staff and mental health professionals who deliver these critical services will no longer face uncertainty on short term contracts.

“This will allow longer term planning, provide job certainty for thousands of people employed in the sector, and deliver a stronger mental health system,” said Minister Hunt.

“The new funding process will dramatically improve their ability to ensure that services can be commissioned well in advance at any point in time, and provide greater funding certainty for the community-based mental health sector.”

“This will particularly benefit those living in rural and remote areas, where staffing shortages due to employment uncertainty have historically reduced access to mental health services.”

“Our Government has an ongoing commitment to supporting the mental health of Australians,” said Minister Hunt.

The Liberal National Government has prioritised better mental health for all Australians with $4.7 billion expected to be spent on mental health this financial year.

The Government’s strong economic management ensures continued investment of record funding into vital health initiatives including mental health, life-saving medicines, Medicare and hospitals.

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Authorised by Andrew Wallace MP, Liberal National Party, 11/10 Lake Kawana Blvd, Bokarina, QLD, 4575