Increased funding to address mental health

$75 million boost for community mental health services in Northern Queensland

JANUARY 16, 2019: The Liberal National Government will provide a record $1.45 billion for community mental health services and change the funding model to ensure security for both jobs and services.

This means that in excess of $75 million will flow to the Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (PHN) which provides services for Mackay through to Townsville and Cairns.

The need to strengthen and improve our services for mental health facilities, programs and workers sadly never goes away, and I am very happy to see this increase in funding. 

It will go towards boosting such valuable services as Headspace which focuses on youth mental health, increasing the number of mental health nurses and responding to mental health issues in indigenous groups and those in aged care.

The other things I am focused on, often linked to mental health issues, is continuing the war on drugs through the establishment of Local Drug Action Teams as well as pushing for more drug rehab beds.

PHNs were set up as an independent regional health organisation to commission health services including mental health, in response to the needs of local communities throughout Australia, including that of the Mackay through to Townsville region.

The Northern Queensland PHN is expected to receive $75,359,691 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.

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 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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