The Devil Will Be In The Detail: Federal Budget 2021–22

QAMH are in the process of reviewing the implications of the Federal Budget announcements made by the Government on Tuesday night.  We are looking for more detail and over the coming weeks we will provide our members with expanded commentary on the initiatives most likely to impact the Community Mental Health and Wellbeing Sector.

We welcome the Government’s commitment to increased mental health and suicide prevention funding in the areas of Prevention and Early Intervention, Suicide Prevention, Treatment, Supporting Vulnerable Australians and Workforce and Governance. 

The budget includes $487.2 million over four years for Head to Health adult mental health centres (8 new centres and 8 existing centres plus 24 “satellites” centres).  In addition to this was 10 additional headspace centres and 15 new Head to Health Kids – children’s mental health and wellbeing centres. It is pleasing to see recognition in the Budget for community-based initiatives in response to the findings of the Productivity Commission (PC).  The Community Mental Health and Wellbeing Sector should play an important role in the delivery of mental health support to those with illness too complex for primary care settings but not unwell enough to require acute treatment (“the Missing Middle”). 

We welcome the additional investment for services supporting improved perinatal mental health, people with Eating Disorders, Domestic Violence Units and programs to support workforce participation (Individual Placement and Support). Leadership and investment in suicide prevention, including aftercare and postvention services and national standards for safe spaces are included, as is funding to create a “world class digital mental health service”. There was also a commitment to support vulnerable Australians, such as those with complex mental health needs, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds.        

What this means in practice for Queensland remains contingent on deals with the states and territories that will be negotiated over the coming months.  While there is commitment to continue the current Continuity of Support (CoS) program and National Psychosocial support Measure (NPSM) for a further two years, there are no commitments to expand Psychosocial Support funding. We understand that the Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Hon David Coleman has indicated that additional funding could come as part of a later implementation of the PC recommendations. This will follow the establishment of the National Agreement at the end of this year.

The solutions in this budget are largely clinically focused, including the majority of the workforce development commitments.  Despite this we are pleased to see funding to sponsor peer work vocational training places and investment in the co-design of a future national peak body to strengthen the expertise of lived experience in the mental health system.  We will continue to advocate for community-based solutions which address all social determinants of health early in the trajectory of distress.

Access the full Federal Budget 2021 here.

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