Mental health an afterthought in yesterday’s budget, say Queensland psychiatrists

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) says the Queensland Government's latest budget does not go far enough to address the growing needs of our mental health system.

Queensland has a critical and chronic shortage of mental health workers, as well as the lowest number of acute psychiatric beds per capita of all the states and territories in the country.

Professor Brett Emmerson AM, Chair of the RANZCP Queensland Branch, said this makes for a perfect storm within the state’s mental health system.

“We believe we only have about half the additional funding we need to support our mental health system, despite evidence that Queensland’s mental health needs are growing in size and complexity.

"We estimate that the state needs 3000 more community based mental health staff, including psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, and other allied health staff. 

“However, there’s a pervasive lack of data to guide any workforce and service delivery projections across the state.

“We know there are cracks in the mental health system - for many Queenslanders, help is too far away, too expensive, too long a wait or simply unavailable.

“As a result, communities are missing out on the care they desperately need, causing their conditions to become worse and harder to treat with time. The situation is particularly dire in rural and remote parts of the state.

“We need a specialist mental health workforce to deliver the right care, supported by comprehensive data that paints a picture of where the gaps are, how wide, and how many.

“We can’t fix what we can’t see.”

The RANZCP Queensland Branch has welcomed a number of commitments made by the Miles government as part of the budget, including:

  • Funding for more mental health facilities in the state, including $28 million for psychosis treatment services across six locations in North Queensland and $24 million for a youth mental health unit at Cairns Hospital
  • Funding for new mental health beds across the state, including $9.5 million 20 new beds at the Gold Coast Secure Mental Health Rehabilitation Unit, $79.1 million for the replacement of the Rockhampton Mental Health Unit which will include nine additional beds, and $200 million to redevelop a contemporary Cooktown Multi-Purpose Health Service facility with new mental health beds
  • The Queensland Women and Girls’ Health Strategy 2032 which includes mental health and wellbeing as priority action area
  • $500 million in the Putting Queensland Kids First plan aimed at improving early childhood services and transition to school for young Queenslanders
  • $156.1 million to deliver improved mental health, alcohol and other drugs services to reduce harm and improve outcomes, including services specifically targeted towards First Nations communities 
  • $44 million over four years to establish a new statewide adult forensic examination model of care
  • The announcement of a Health Workforce Strategy for Queensland to 2032

However, Prof Emmerson said that the lack of focus on the mental health workforce in the newly announced Health Workforce Strategy is alarming.

“While the Strategy is a step in the right direction, no mention of mental health workers jumps out as a glaring omission.    

“This is despite the national conversation we’ve had in the past few months about the workforce crisis in our mental health system.

“Without a robust, dedicated plan to attract, train and retain the mental health workforce, Queenslanders will continue to fall through the cracks.

“This plan must be underpinned by data and evidence that tells us what the unmet mental health needs of our communities are and where they are the most concentrated.

“We want to work with the Queensland Government to fix the cracks in our mental health system and ensure that no Queenslander goes without the support they need,” Prof Emmerson 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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