Crucial investment in mental health workforce missing in today’s budget

Despite hopes for significant funding to bolster Australia’s mental health workforce, psychiatrists say today’s budget falls short of making sustainable and tangible investments in that direction.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, President Dr Elizabeth Moore said the pressing need for growing our mental health workforce to care for Australians living with acute mental illness and psychological distress cannot be overlooked.

“Over the past few months, we have reached a national consensus on the workforce crisis within our mental health system. 

“Without enough specialists to treat complex, chronic and severe mental illnesses, hospitals are merely buildings, and clinics are just rooms.

“We are disappointed by the absence of any substantial commitment to grow the number of psychiatrists and mental health workers, which are fundamental to mental health reform.

Dr Moore said too many people are waiting too long or missing out on care entirely because there are not enough people to provide that care.

“The demand for mental health support continues to outstrip the capacity of our system to provide adequate care to people in need.

“According to the National Mental Health Workforce Strategy released last year, the current psychiatry workforce only meets 56% of the national demand for psychiatrists in mental health services. 

“This critical and chronic workforce shortage disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and those living in rural, regional, and remote areas.

“It limits our ability to intervene early in people’s conditions and prevent them from escalating to crisis levels.

“And we know that leads to our most vulnerable people turning up in our already strained emergency departments or slipping through the cracks entirely.”

The RANZCP has welcomed some commitments announced to improve access for priority populations to mental health services today.

We’re delighted to see $29.7 million in new funding for child and youth mental health services.

“Early psychiatric support is vital for vulnerable infants and children. We urge the Government to also ensure psychiatry is included in the codesign of new models of care. 

“It is also encouraging to see the Albanese Government give military and veteran mental health the importance it warrants by extending our Military and Veteran Psychiatry Training Program for another year.

“But the viability of any program relies on sustained and ongoing funding.

“We need at least another three years of renewed funding so that our military and veteran population get the mental health care they so desperately need.  

“We cautiously welcome the Medicare Mental Health Centres. Access and affordability are critical issues, but we view these as a start, not a silver bullet. To work, we need an available workforce to staff them, and ensure they properly align with other services to guarantee continuity of care. 

“Just as importantly, we need to make sure psychiatrists are consulted on service design and delivery.

Dr Moore said the stopgap commitments announced in today’s budget to tackle mental health access issues are welcome, but without any meaningful investment in workforce they will fail to make a real and lasting impact on Australia’s mental health crisis.

“We can’t wait any longer – we urgently need targeted investment in the workforce, funneled towards areas of greatest need and backed by data that psychiatrists have been calling on the government to collect.

“Without this investment, Australians will continue to miss out on life saving and essential mental health care and treatment.

“We want to work with the Government to ensure that every Australian can receive accessible, affordable and appropriate mental health care,” Dr Moore said.

For all other expert mental health information visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.

ENQUIRIES: For more information, or to arrange an interview call Dishi Gahlowt on +61 437 315 911, or email

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists is a membership organisation that prepares medical specialists in the field of psychiatry, supports and enhances clinical practice, advocates for people affected by mental illness and advises governments and other groups on mental health care. For information about our work, our members or our history, visit

In Australia: If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or or the Suicide Callback Service on 1300 659 467 or

In New Zealand: If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline NZ on 0800 543 354 or or the Suicide Crisis Helpline on 0508 828 865 or



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