Monday, 21 June 2021
Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2021-2022; Consideration in Detail
Mental health and suicide prevention are key health priorities and central features of the Commonwealth's Long Term National Health Plan. The government is committed to transforming the mental health system and has undertaken an ambitious reform agenda. The government has established a number of reviews to consider the decades-long issues in the mental health system. These include the Productivity Commission inquiry into mental health and the report of the National Suicide Prevention Adviser. Together with the Royal Commission into Victoria's Metal Health System and the House of Representatives Select Committee on Mental Health, these reviews will inform and drive the long-term national reform work already underway to establish a more integrated, person oriented Australian mental health and suicide prevention system for the benefit of all Australians.
In addition, under the new national health reform committee, the government is developing a new national health and suicide prevention agreement with states and territories. It is expected that this new agreement will be finalised towards the end of this year. The agreement will help establish a single integrated national mental health system.
In the 2021-2022 budget, the government is investing a record $2.3 billion in the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan to lead landmark reform. Based on the principles of prevention, compassion and care, the plan will invest $1.4 billion in high-quality, person centred treatment, including $820.1 million for the national network of mental health centres for adults, youth and children through the Head to Health and headspace programs. The plan is based on five key pillars: prevention and early intervention, suicide prevention, treatment, supporting the vulnerable and, of course, workforce and governance.
The $2.3 billion plan is the first phase of the response to the recommendations of the Productivity Commission and the National Suicide Prevention Adviser, all of which the government has accepted in full, in part or in principle. Many of the reforms require collaboration with the state and territory governments, with a number to be pursued jointly through a new national mental health and suicide prevention agreement to be finalised by November. The 2021-22 budget builds on the additional $485.7 million in mental health services, and supports in the 2020-21 budget, including additional funding for bushfire recovery, suicide prevention and mental health support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pillar 1 in the mental health approach is prevention and early intervention, with $248.6 million invested and $164.9 million from Health. This includes spending in digital, to create a world-class digital mental-health service system, including commencing the transformation of the existing Head to Health gateway into a comprehensive national mental health platform. It includes support for perinatal services, with $47.4 million allocated to perinatal services; and legal services, with $77.1 million in the National Legal Assistance Partnership to support early resolution of legal problems for those experiencing mental illness. It also includes support for fly-in fly-out workers and drive-in drive-out workers, with $6.3 million allocated to that, and for workforce participation, with $5.7 million to build on the Individual Placement and Support Program. There's small business support, with Ahead for Business digital hub supporting small business owners to take proactive, preventive and early steps to improve their mental health.
There are so many aspects to this. But my question to the minister is: could the minister please outline how the $2.3 billion for the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan, and investments throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, are improving access to new and improved mental health treatments through the government's continued investment in Medicare?