BEING – Mental Health Consumers

Federal Budget 2022-23 Response

BEING – Mental Health Consumers welcomes Federal investment into the mental health sector. We have summarised some key commitments from the 2022-23 Federal Budget, along with our thoughts and concerns, below.

Prevention and early intervention

While it is pleasing to see the Australian government committing significant funds to prevention and early intervention for mental health and suicide, there are gaps which still need to be addressed.

In the current budget, $63.6 million has been committed to increasing crisis support services for people affected by the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic. However, the primary focus is on supporting digital mental health services. This raises concerns that older Australians or people without digital literacy or access to the internet or devices, may be neglected or disadvantaged.

$42.7 million has been committed to supporting regional suicide prevention initiatives. This is a positive development, as regional and remote communities continue to significantly lack supports and resources. Many regional communities are still struggling with the combined long term mental health impacts of the fires and floods that have hit rural areas in recent years and COVID 19 has also added significantly to regional mental health issues and distress.

Out of the $42.7 million, $10.4 million will be going towards developing regional response leaders who will help to engage, coordinate, and integrate early intervention and suicide prevention activities. $30.2 million will be used to invest in regional and community-based suicide prevention systems.

Improved mental health support for young Australians

We’re also pleased to see $15.9 million committed to supporting the mental health of young Australians. However more diversification in the distribution of this funding is needed with the bulk of funding going to headspace services.

On the other hand, it is pleasing to see funding going towards young people’s mental health in rural and remote communities such as the commitment to ‘Flying headspace’ services – which supports the provision of mental health service to young people in remote locations.

People living with eating disorders

The Australian government has also committed $24.3 million to support treatment services for Australians with eating disorders. The focus on community delivered support programs is refreshing and will hopefully provide greater access to prevention rather than just focusing on crisis management.

Natural disasters and mental health

Australians impacted by natural disasters will be receiving a funding boost with $31.2 million going towards mental health initiatives to support Australians in NSW and Queensland in response to the recent floods. Nevertheless, it is unfortunate to see that only $946,000 dollars has been committed to providing further MBS support to people still struggling with the psychological aftereffects of the 2019-2020 black summer fires.

Domestic violence and trauma

We are pleased to see the government allocating $67.2 million to domestic, family and sexual violence services. The trauma of these experiences impacts significantly on mental health, and we would welcome additional funds being allocated to make long term supports available for people living with complex trauma in this instance, and more generally.

Culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities

$17.8 million has been allocated to support CALD communities in Australia, with $10 million going to the Program of Assistance for Survivors of Torture and Trauma (PASTT) and $7.8 million towards Translating and Interpreting services.

Once again it is good to see a commitment of funds to communities who struggle with the traumatic effects of violence. However, it underlines the need to make more long-term psychosocial support services available to people struggling with trauma and the aftereffects of violence and to making both psychiatric and psychotherapeutic services equally accessible.

GPs and alcohol and other drugs

We are pleased to see $6 million pledged to:

  • developing a national support line for GPs to access clinical advice from psychiatrists; and
  • increasing the mental health workforce within the alcohol and other drugs support space

Many GPs require significant training and support in relation to mental health and we welcome an increase in funding allocated to this space. We are also pleased to see a focus on providing targeted support for people who need both mental health and drug and alcohol services. It has long been a gap in the system that has led to many people living with both mental health and substance use issues being declined support due to under-resourced services.

Mental health workforce

The government has committed $60.7 million to implementing the 10 Year National Mental Health Workforce Strategy. From 2022-23, the government is committing $18.3 million to building a contemporary workforce and to upskilling the existing workforce within the mental health space. We note this funding is focused on clinical and allied health workers.

Peer workforce

Finally, it is important to note that $1.1 million has been committed by the government to assist Butterfly Foundation with developing a specialised peer workforce focusing on eating disorders. This is a pleasing and welcome move, however is far from adequate given the national scale and the pressing need for expansion in the peer workforce space. More needs to be done here.