Australian Government, 2011‑12 Budget

Statement 1: Budget Overview (Continued)

Making mental health a national priority

Mental illness affects nearly every Australian in some way. It is the leading cause of disability and nearly one third of Australians will experience a mental illness at some stage in their lives. Untreated mental illness can lead to disengagement from society, unemployment, family breakdown, substance abuse, homelessness and suicide.

Many individuals experience difficulty in accessing services and navigating a fragmented system. This is why the Government is making substantial investments to expand effective programs and better integrate their delivery, and is also committing to ongoing action.

National Mental Health Reform

The Government is investing $2.2 billion over five years to deliver additional services, a greater focus on prevention and early intervention, and a more targeted and better coordinated mental health care system as a step towards long‑term reform. These investments will focus on:

  • delivering better and more integrated support for people with severe mental illness;
  • prevention and early intervention for children and young people;
  • improving access to primary health care for people with a mental illness; and
  • increasing accountability and transparency through a more responsive system.

Included in this package is $624 million in previous investment, including the Government's election commitments on taking action to tackle suicide.

This package also forms part of the Government's commitment to develop a Ten Year Roadmap for Reform.

Delivering better support for people with severe mental illness

The Government is investing another $571 million over five years to improve outcomes for people with severe and debilitating mental illness by expanding services and improving service coordination.

The 2011‑12 Budget provides $344 million over five years to provide better coordinated care and flexible funding for people with severe and persistent mental illness. This includes:

  • funding local organisations to act as Care Facilitators and a single point of contact for clinical and social services;
  • developing a single assessment process for all individuals with severe mental illness to ensure services are matched to their needs; and
  • building on the Government's 2010 election commitment by providing additional funding for Flexible Care packages for people with severe mental illness, to help them access the most appropriate mix of services.

The 2011‑12 Budget will also invest $228 million over five years to expand social support services available through the Personal Helpers and Mentors program and the Support for Day to Day Living in the Community program to assist people with severe mental illness to rehabilitate and reconnect with the community.

Prevention and early intervention for children and young people

The Government is investing $523 million over five years to expand and strengthen the focus of the mental health system towards prevention and early intervention for children and young people.

The Government will expand services in proven programs, including:

  • $197 million over five years to establish 30 new headspace youth mental health centres around Australia to achieve national coverage of 90 centres to connect young people and their families to mental and health wellbeing support, and information and services, that are more suited to their needs;
  • $222 million over five years in a 50/50 partnership with the States and Territories to establish up to a total of 16 Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centres (EPPIC) to provide holistic support for young people with emerging psychotic disorders and their families around the country; and
  • $61 million over five years to fund 40 additional Family Mental Health Support (FMHS) services to provide integrated prevention and early intervention services for vulnerable, at‑risk and disadvantaged children, young people and their families.

Prevention and early intervention activities will also be enhanced by providing additional funding to develop a three year old health and wellbeing check to intervene early to provide the best chance of preventing mental disorders later in life, and to ensure the ongoing implementation of the Australian Early Development Index.

Improving access to primary health care for people with mental illness

The Government is committing $206 million over five years to deliver more psychology and psychiatry services through the Access to Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS) program. This program will make services more accessible for children and their families, people in rural and remote settings, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other hard to reach populations.

Increasing accountability and transparency

The Government will provide $32 million over five years to establish Australia's first National Mental Health Commission within the Prime Minister's portfolio. This will increase accountability and transparency in the mental health system and give mental health prominence at a national level.

Partnering with the States and Territories

The Government will allocate $201 million over five years in a new National Partnership with the States and Territories to address major service gaps in their mental health systems.

The new National Partnership will focus on accommodation support for those at risk of homelessness and admission and discharge from hospitals. This will improve access to, and coordination of, services for people with severe mental illness.

Better targeting mental health funding

The Government will better target investment in the Better Access initiative by redirecting $580 million over five years to fund new mental health investments and achieve better value for money. Informed by an independent evaluation, savings will be achieved by:

  • reducing the Medicare rebate for specific general practitioner mental health care services to align with the time usually taken to provide them; and
  • rebalancing the cap on consultations for allied psychological services to reflect the program's focus on better aligning treatment to people's needs.

These savings have been re‑invested into new and more effective mental health spending.

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