Multi-billion dollar mental health boost

Daniel McCulloch
(Australian Associated Press)


Australians in need of mental health support are set to benefit from a $2.3 billion package included in the federal budget.

The new funding will be spent over the next four years, adding to major commitments already made during the Black Summer bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic.

The mental health plan will be built on five key pillars.

Almost $250 million will be spent on prevention and early intervention, including the creation of an online platform to provide professional counselling, support and referrals.

Another $300 million will be allocated to suicide prevention.

For the first time, in partnership with the states and territories, the government will fund ‘after care’ for every Australian discharged from hospital following a suicide attempt.

At least $1.4 billion will go towards child, youth and adult mental health treatment centres.

Vulnerable communities will receive $107 million in extra support, with money set aside to update a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention strategy.

And $202 million will be spent boosting workforces and improving governance.

Scholarships will be offered to nurses, psychologists and allied health practitioners working in mental health.

The federal government has framed the extra investment as the first phase of its response to a Productivity Commission inquiry into mental health, as well as a report delivered by the national suicide prevention adviser.

The funding injection should bring the government’s mental health spending to about $6.3 billion in the next financial year.

The coalition is keen to point out the projected figure is 90 per cent higher than when Labor was last in power.

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