Queensland Mental Health Commissioner Ivan Frkovic has welcomed this week’s $28 million State Government boost to support community mental health, drug and alcohol, and Indigenous primary healthcare.

Mr Frkovic joined Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Health Minister Steven Miles and Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young to announce the funding on Tuesday (14 April).

“This funding comes at a critical time, when the community sector is under extreme pressure as it responds to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

“When it comes to mental health, we are all on a spectrum of vulnerability.

“Whether we were well before this, whether we were vulnerable at the time or whether we were living with mental illness, the level of vulnerability has now spread to all of us.”

Mr Frkovic’s comments were echoed by sector leaders.

Queensland Alliance for Mental Health CEO Jennifer Black said alliance member organisations were working tirelessly to adapt service models to ensure continued delivery of critical community mental health and drug and alcohol services.

“The Community Mental Health sector plays a key role in supporting some of Queensland’s most vulnerable people in all parts of the state, and this funding will assist organisations to rapidly respond to increasing demand for mental health services and support their workforces.,” she said.

“In addition, it will allow providers to develop innovative ways to deliver services to support people within their own communities, thereby alleviating pressure on the hospital-based system during this critical time.”

Queensland Network of Alcohol and Other Drug Agencies CEO Rebecca Lang said the funding announcement recognised the vital role that alcohol and other drugs (AOD) treatment services played in the health system, and would help enhance technological service delivery solutions.

“Non-government AOD providers see about 15,000 Queenslanders every year,” she said.

“Providers are reporting a 20 to 25 per cent surge in demand as the pandemic contributes to exactly the sort of isolation and disadvantage that often precedes problematic use of alcohol and other drugs, particularly among regular users.”

Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council chairperson Gail Watson said the organisation was thrilled about the funding support announcement.

“This funding will give much needed support for our members to prepare, inform and protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families during this public health crisis,” she said.  

Mr Frkovic said non-government organisations played a vital role in supporting mental health and responding to mental ill-health and alcohol and other drug issues.

“Those organisations are straining to cope with demand during this unprecedented crisis, so this funding is extremely welcome.

“This is our opportunity to support services to people who are experiencing a whole range of psychological distress, to help ensure people can maintain a quality of life even through difficult times such as this,” he said.

“This initiative will focus on mental health, drug and alcohol services and indigenous primary health care services that are critically vital to supporting our community.

“Importantly, the funding complements the Federal Government’s $74 million mental health package, which included $10 million to Beyond Blue for a COVID-19 mental health support service and changes to the Medical Benefits Scheme to cater for the provision of telehealth services,” Mr Frkovic said.

Mr Frkovic said the State and federal funding would help people to manage better through the crisis and to come out the other end with stronger mental health and an ability to rebuild and to regain life control.

The State Government funding announcement is here.

For more information about eligibility and how to apply, call 07 3006 2815 or email CSFB_RFO@health.qld.gov.au