Labor’s announcement today on mental health fails to appreciate the scale of the mental health challenge.
Whilst any investment in mental health is welcomed, Labor’s response is underwhelming and does not acknowledge the complexity and breadth of the policy area.
The Morrison Government committed an unprecedented $736 million boost to mental health in the 2019-20 Budget because we recognise the huge impact and cost of mental illness on almost half of all Australians.
The Morrison Government has made mental health a priority and we have done more to deliver mental health services than any other Australian government in history. Overall funding has increased from $3.4 billion in 2012-13 to an expected $5.3 billion next financial year and quadrupled funding for youth mental health while we have been in government.
The Liberal National Government has already created the Early Psychosis Youth Service (EPYS) at 6 headspace centres across the country. These have received $287.2 million from 2013-14 to 2018-19 to provide specialist clinical services for young people with severe or complex mental illness. In the 2019-20 Budget, we announced a further $109 million to extend the youth programme for an additional two years until 2020-21.
We have announced a $503.1 million Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan, including $375 million for an additional 30 headspaces and an additional $4 million for Kids Helpline which will be extended by another $2 million.
Australia needs a comprehensive response to the challenge of mental illness. The highest proportion of suicide deaths occurs in the 45-49 year age group, and conditions like eating disorders are the most lethal of psychiatric illnesses. That is why we will invest in addressing the needs of all Australians by providing:
Expanding access for mental health is currently being assessed by the independent Medicare Review Taskforce. The Government is committed to implementing the recommendations of the Taskforce. In 2018, we announced a Productivity Commission inquiry into the costs of mental health. This will help guide our plan to transform mental health care and ensure that Australia has an inclusive and comprehensive system that supports everyone regardless of their age, concern or geographical location.