The National Mental Health Commission has welcomed the focus on measuring what matters to improve the lives of all Australians in the Federal Budget update, including the beginning of a plan to better understand the social determinants that lead to poor mental health and wellbeing outcomes for Australians.
The new section of the Federal Budget starts the conversation about how to better measure what matters to Australians and provides the beginnings of a framework measuring and reporting on the quality of life for Australians, beyond the indicators of financial prosperity. This includes monitoring a range of social determinants, including education levels, health care, aged care, First Nations health and the environment, as well as incomes and housing.
The Commission is particularly pleased with the focus on housing as part of the new wellbeing approach by the Government. The Commission’s recent Connections22 program found that insecure housing was a consistent and pervasive issue for Australians in all communities and locations, including regional and remote communities, and those living in the cities.
The Commission looks forward to working with the Government to inform the development of a stand-alone Measuring What Matters Statement in 2023, as part of our ongoing role in measuring and reporting, advising Government and being a catalyst for change in the mental health and suicide prevention systems.
In addition, the focus on cost-of-living pressures is welcome. Employment and housing insecurity have been exacerbated by the pandemic response, in addition to natural disasters that have become a real and tragic feature of the nation’s landscape. That is why the Commission welcomes the Government’s five-point plan for easing the cost of living, a significant part of assuring improved mental health and wellbeing.
The plan, alongside increased funding for disaster response and prevention, will make significant improvement in the social determinants that are impacting our mental health and wellbeing.
The Commission also welcomes the following budget measures:
- $203.7 million student well-being boost, with the average school receiving $20,000 towards improving student mental health and well-being
- The 50 per cent loading for telehealth psychiatry services in regional and rural areas and expands the headspace network.
- $1.7 billion to end violence against women and children
- Funding to respond to the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide
- $15.1 million to extend the tailored small business mental health and financial counselling programs, NewAccess for Small Business Owners and the Small Business Debt Helpline.
The Commission is focussed on ensuring the Australian experience of the mental health and suicide prevention systems is positive and provides agency to those who need it. We want a nation where services work together with community and people with mental health challenges are treated with respect. Vision 2030 sees a country where people know where to go for help and have the support they need to re-engage and move forward with confidence.