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Mental health and wellbeing Budget 2021-22, “the foundation for a truly integrated national system.”

11 May 2021
National Mental Health Commission Chair, Lucy Brogden AM, has described the 2021-2022 Federal Budget as, “a genuine shift in our national response to mental health, wellbeing and suicide prevention.”

Today’s $2.3 billion budget announcement presents a commitment to a more preventive, compassionate and person-centred mental health and suicide prevention system.

“In 2021, more Australians than ever are recognising the importance of seeking help for their mental ill health, and governments and the sector are united in their commitment to meet this need,” Mrs Brogden said.

“To achieve this we need both system reform and additional services. This budget addresses both. We also need an ongoing commitment to building our evidence base to enhance knowledge, services delivery and outcomes.”

The Budget commitment leads a shift to:

  • Focusing on the value of investing in mental health and wellbeing for all Australians, not just how much we spend on mental illness.
  • Significantly increasing accessibility to services online and in communities where people live, learn and work. A new network of community-based mental health hubs for children and those who care for them, young people and adults that will ensure those services are age and needs appropriate.
  • Supporting our mental health workforce, across multiple disciplines, to deliver compassionate evidence based quality care.

“The Budget creates a universal approach to suicide prevention, spearheaded by a National Suicide Prevention Office. It will enable suicide prevention care – coordinated with the States and Territories – to be delivered where people live,” Commission CEO Ms Christine Morgan said.

“Importantly, the Budget recognises that to achieve coordinated integrated services we need to adopt a coordinated way of doing things, across all jurisdictions and in partnership with all stakeholders.”

This is the first budget that responds to the recommendations from the Productivity Commission and Suicide Prevention Final Advice.

“The budget has drawn on the research and outcomes from those landmark reports, which included the lived experience voices of consumers, carers and those providing support within the sector.

The 2021-2022 Budget provides five pillars for change that will help Australia achieve systemic reform.

  1. $248.6 million for early intervention and prevention.

“Investment in mental health and wellbeing requires a new focus on prevention of mental ill health and early intervention – in life, in illness, in episode of illness, and in relapse. It recognises the importance of the social determinants of health such as employment, economic security and education, as well as the role of workplaces and communities. It works with the challenges of the justice system. It works with the challenges of the justice system. It recognises the importance of a whole-of-person, whole-of-life, whole-of-system approach to mental health and wellbeing, and it needs to be accessible via integrated and easy to use digital services, channels and infrastructure for all Australians regardless of where they live,” Ms Morgan said.

  1. $298.1 million for suicide prevention.

“This commitment presents a shift towards early intervention at times of suicidal distress. It recognises the imperative of providing evidence-based universal aftercare to anyone who has been in the suicidal crisis, and for those who have been bereaved. It shifts towards a provision of suicide prevention services that address the needs of those who are disproportionately impacted by suicide. It establishes a national suicide office to ensure a national approach is adopted across all jurisdictions.”

  1. $1.4 billion for treatment.

“Such a significant investment delivers on the need to bring more service options into community settings, across the spectrum of children, young people and adults. By establishing a network of hubs, a new approach is being taken to bring into effect a more coordinated approach that is provided by multidisciplinary teams – across GPs, mental health professionals and allied health services. Australians will have a network of new mental health service centres that respond to them as a whole person regardless of their life experience and their needs. It responds to the needs of the missing middle – those missing out on services due to lack of services, lack of accessibility, or because they are too unwell for primary care but not so unwell as to require going to hospital. It is a significant shift towards the goal of a universal mental health care system providing affordable, accessible, evidence based care to Australians when and where it is needed.”

  1. $107 million to support priority populations.

“Mental health services need to be accessible to priority population groups, recognising that a one size fits all approach is not suitable. The provision of equitable access to services by creating additional support for particular groups recognises the experience of each person is different.

“The particular needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse communities, LGBTIQ+ communities, those who live in regional and rural Australia and those who are going through a transition in life, including veterans must be considered in services and system reform.”

  1. $202 million for workforce and governance.

Ensuring our mental health workforce is supported to provide compassionate, safe care is a critical enabler for our system and service reform.

By offering over 1,000 scholarships and clinical or training placements, and further training opportunities and incentives, this component of the Budget seeks to broaden our mental health workforce, increase capacity and improve capability.

It recognises the importance of our GPs, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses and allied health professionals. Most importantly it recognises and supports investment in our peer workforce.

A whole of government approach:

Finally, and crucially, the budget commits to making the National Partnership Agreement a reality.  Key to achieving lasting reform will be strong collaboration across all governments, the sector and communities, and a commitment to co-designing solutions with people with lived experience.

The implementation of cross-portfolio responsibility will see improvements in data collection, outcomes measurement and the capacity to provide support to people at all stages of their life while addressing the social determinants that influence mental health and wellbeing.

“The Commission welcomes the continued investment and improved data, and the steps towards delivering outcomes and results for all Australians. We welcome investments in research and outcomes, and data collection, because we see these as essential for continued reform.”

“Today’s Budget lays the foundations for the national mental health and suicide prevention reform that is required. It reflects a genuine commitment and presents the sector and government with an opportunity to take a unified approach to building a strongly coordinated mental health system. This opportunity also includes the potential to fully realise a whole-of-government and whole-of-governments’ approach, that is coordinated, connected and compassionate.”

“This budget lays the foundation for a truly integrated national system,” Ms Morgan said.

National FREE 24/7 Crisis Services

Lifeline | 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service | 1300 659 467 
Kids Helpline | 1800 55 1800 
MensLine Australia | 1300 78 99 78
Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service | 1800 512 348

For general mental health information https://headtohealth.gov.au/