Appendix B: Government announcements relating to COVID-19, bushfires and mental health
|The Australian Government will establish a new agency with an initial $2 billion for a National Bushfire Recovery Fund to coordinate a national response to rebuild communities and livelihoods after the devastating fire-front has passed.||6 January 2020||View Here|
|Immediate mental health services deployed into fire-affected communities.
$76 million will fund free counselling sessions, extra Medicare and telehealth consultations, an expansion of headspace services for young Australians, and community recovery initiatives.
|12 January 2020||View Here|
|$64 million for suicide prevention and mental health initiatives. Initiatives will focus on:
||30 January 2020||View Here|
|Announcement of National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention.||5 February 2020||View Here|
|$74 million will be provided to support the mental health and wellbeing of Australians, including:
||29 March 2020||View Here|
|COVID-19: Whole-of-population telehealth for patients, general practice, primary care and other medical services—expansion of telehealth Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) items.||29 March 2020||View Here|
|Immediate response plan to focus on people with disability during coronavirus.||4 April 2020||View Here|
|Boost for bushfire recovery—as part of the Regional Bushfire Recovery and Development Program, bushfire-affected communities will share in $448.5 million from the Australian Government to support the delivery of local recovery plans, with priority given to the most severely impacted regions, drawing on local voices and local governments in close partnership and as part of cost-sharing arrangements with states. This includes Community Wellbeing and Participation ($13.5 million)—backing Primary Health Networks with additional funding to provide critical, localised emotional and mental health support for bushfire-affected individuals.||11 May 2020||View Here|
|Appointment of Deputy Chief Medical Officer for mental health.||13 May 2020||View Here|
|$48.1 million announced to support the National Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan.||15 May 2020||View Here|
|$54 million in grants for mental health research.||20 May 2020||View Here|
|$20 million additional funding for research to improve mental health care and reduce suicide rates in Australia.||25 May 2020||View Here|
|$690,000 to Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand to support mental health first aid training for all medical students.||27 May 2020||View Here|
|Supporting isolated senior Australians to stay connected:
||28 May 2020||View Here|
|$24.2 million to reduce wait times—fast-tracking access to mental health services for young people aged 12–25 seeking headspace appointments.||9 June 2020||View Here|
|Investment of almost $35 million in 42 key research projects in areas such as ending avoidable Indigenous deafness, ending avoidable Indigenous blindness, and helping to eradicate chronic kidney disease.
Three of these projects are in Indigenous mental health (approximately $4.3 million worth of the total investment amount).
|14 June 2020||View Here|
|COVID-19 support for children and young people—$550,000 over two years to support children and young people who have a parent or guardian with a mental illness.||17 June 2020||View Here|
|$8 million for two projects that will use artificial intelligence to improve mental health treatments for Australians.||29 June 2020||View Here|
|$27 million to boost research in preventive and public health projects through the landmark $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund.
This funding will enable research teams across Australia to look at new ways to prevent people from getting ill. Telehealth will have a key role in a number of these projects.
|27 July 2020||View Here|
|121 Men's Sheds across Australia will share in $500,000 in the latest funding round of the National Shed Development Programme.||27 July 2020||View Here|
|The Australian Government will provide 10 additional Medicare-subsidised psychological therapy sessions for people subjected to further restrictions in areas impacted by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The $7.3 million in additional support recognises that many people in areas impacted by the second wave of the pandemic will be facing increased emotional and mental stress.
|2 August 2020||View Here|
|An additional $12 million to ensure that people in Victoria can access 24/7 mental health support through digital and telephone counselling services. This package includes:
||6 August 2020||View Here|
|An additional $31.9 million to create 15 mental health clinics across Victoria and further enhance essential support during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was in recognition of the ongoing impact of Victorian restrictions on the mental health of individuals and communities. The clinics are now located at various general practice clinics, headspace and community centres, where health care is generally accessed. Nine are established in Greater Melbourne and six in regional Victoria. The clinics provide multidisciplinary mental health treatment and care in communities to anyone struggling with their mental health.||17 August 2020||View Here|
|$2 billion to extend critical health services across Australia.
Millions of Australians will continue to receive medical care and support in their own homes, with the Australian Government investing more than $2 billion to extend a range of COVID-19 health measures for a further six months, to 31 March 2021. Patients will continue to have access to Medicare-subsidised telehealth for general practitioner, nursing, midwifery, allied health and allied mental health services, where and when they need them.
|18 September 2020||View Here|
|Additional changes made by the National Disability Insurance Agency to support participants and providers during COVID-19 restrictions, including:
Australian Capital Territory
|$4.5 million COVID-19 mental health support package to help Canberrans.
An additional $200,000 for the Way Back Support Service to support people who have attempted suicide or are experiencing suicidal crisis, and $341,843 to establish two Safe Haven cafes.
|6 May 2020||View Here|
New South Wales
|$73 million to support mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes more than 180 additional mental health workers, expanded virtual mental health programs and increased capacity of the 1800 NSW mental health line.||24 April 2020||View Here|
|The NSW Government will invest a further $310 million in emergency drought relief in recognition of the ongoing drought conditions in regional New South Wales, extending emergency drought measures to help farmers and communities make it out of the worst drought in living memory.
This investment includes the continuation of health and wellbeing programs, including the Farmgate Counsellors Program, Aboriginal wellbeing services and the Royal Flying Doctors Far West Drought Support program.
|May 2020||View Here|
|$800,000 to set up a 'warm line' that will enable people who may be experiencing distress to connect quickly with peer workers.||20 May 2020||View Here|
|The Worker and Wellbeing Fund will:
||3 April 2020||View Here|
|TeamHEALTH launched TeamTALK—a phone-based support service, where any Northern Territorian can quickly access an experienced, locally based mental health recovery professional for a judgement-free, confidential chat.||9 April 2020||View Here|
|The Queensland Government is delivering a $14 million recovery package to support the mental health and resilience of communities impacted by the bushfires.||24 January 2020||View Here|
|$28 million fund to support community-based health services groups as part of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.||14 April 2020||View Here|
|Queensland's economic recovery plan.||27 May 2020||View Here|
|The South Australia Health website includes a number of resources on mental health during COVID-19, including:
|The Social and Economic support package includes $4 million to support those experiencing mental health difficulties as a result of the challenges associated with coronavirus, including:
||26 March 2020||View Here|
|A new campaign has been launched to encourage Tasmanians to 'check in' with themselves and those around them following the impacts of COVID-19.||22 July 2020||View Here|
|The Victorian Government has announced a $59.4 million funding boost to support Victoria's mental health system and ensure that Victorians get the care they need, as demand for services spikes during the coronavirus crisis.||12 April 2020||View Here|
|$19.5 million in funding to deliver essential reform recommendations from the interim report of the Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System and to help flatten a potential second curve of mental ill-health.||15 May 2020||View Here|
|Bushfire mental health assistance
$8.75 million to bolster mental health services provided by Albury Wodonga Health and Latrobe Regional Health, which offer specialist early intervention advice to general practitioners and community clinicians. The investment includes $6.6 million for practical mental health support programs delivered by organisations such as Gippsland Lakes Community Health Consortium, Alpine Health in partnership with NESAY, Corryong Health Service, Tallangatta Health Service and Beyond Blue.
Another $3 million is dedicated to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations to establish social and emotional wellbeing programs, in line with the recommendation from the Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System.
|8 July 2020||View Here|
|$59.7 million in new funding will strengthen the surge capacity of clinical and community mental health services across Victoria to cope with additional presentations and reduce pressure on hospital emergency departments—ensuring that Victorians can get the care they need, even as demand for services spikes.
This funding will also fast-track delivery of more new public acute mental health beds, as recommended by the Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System, boost community mental health services and accelerate the statewide roll out of the Hospital Outreach Post-Suicidal Engagement (HOPE) program.
|9 August 2020||View Here|
|$1 billion support package for households, small businesses and frontline health staff.||31 March 2020||View Here|
|$56 million investment to provide mental health, and alcohol and other drug support to at-risk and vulnerable groups. Funds go to:
||9 June 2020||View Here|
|Appointment of a Chief Medical Officer, Mental Health, within the Mental Health Commission to help strengthen its leadership role in the sector.||7 July 2020||View Here|
|$20 million funding to create specialist mental health hub as part of WA Recovery Plan:
||7 July 2020||View Here|
|New Emergency Telehealth Service launched to support children and young people experiencing a mental health crisis. Provides an alternative to attending a metropolitan hospital emergency department for mental health assessment, thereby limiting time spent in hospital. Supports other health professionals and community-based staff to provide children and young people with mental health support.||13 July 2020||View Here|
|The Western Australian Government announced nearly $15 million for:
||23 July 2020||View Here|
Mental health measures in the 2020–21 Federal Budget
|Extracts relating to mental health measures outlined in the 2020–21 Federal Budget are listed below (noting that some items were announced before release of the Budget).
COVID-19 Response Package—additional mental health and crisis support for Victoria
The government will provide $47.3 million over two years from 2020–21 in additional mental health and crisis support services for people experiencing mental illness and distress as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in Victoria, including:
COVID-19 Response Package—supporting mental health
The government will provide $100.8 million over two years from 2020–21 to provide up to 10 additional individual psychological therapy sessions each calendar year nationally under the Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners through the Medicare Benefits Schedule (Better Access) initiative.
Prioritising mental health—continued support
The government will provide an additional $62.1 million over four years from 2020–21 (including $0.6 million per year ongoing) to improve access to mental health services, including:
Supporting Our Hospitals—simpler and more affordable private health cover for all Australians
The government will also make home and community-based care more accessible through private health insurance, commencing with mental health and general rehabilitation services. Formal consultation on the implementation will commence with the sector in October 2020.
COVID-19 Response Package—BusinessBalance—supporting the mental health of Australians in small businesses
The government will provide $7.0 million in 2020–21 to support the mental health and financial wellbeing of small businesses impacted by COVID-19, including:
Implementation of the 2019 Monsoon Trough: a Strategy for Long-Term Recovery
Supporting families impacted by stillbirth
The government will provide $7.6 million over four years from 2020-21 (and $1.2 million per year ongoing) to address inconsistencies in the support provided for families affected by stillbirth or by the loss of a child before their first birthday, irrespective of whether it is their first or subsequent claim.
Mental health support for veterans and their families
The government will provide $101.7 million over four years from 2020-21 for veterans' mental health support and services. Funding includes:
|6 October 2020||View Here|