Today’s budget a missed opportunity to boost South Australia’s mental health workforce

South Australian psychiatrists are concerned about the lack of additional funding for the mental health workforce in today’s budget, despite the significant impact even a modest investment could have made on increasing access to mental health care in the community.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) South Australian Branch said the South Australian Government has made some notable commitments to improve mental healthcare in the state, but this budget has fallen short of their own high standard for investment in mental health.

Today’s budget was a missed opportunity to increase funding aimed at addressing the critical and chronic shortage of mental health workers in the state by including: 

  • Funding for seven additional psychiatry training places every year, to ensure an ongoing annual intake of 30 psychiatry trainees (a 30% increase from the 23 positions currently funded) 
  • Funding for each regional Local Health Network (LHN) to employ 2 FTE consultant psychiatrists, with the roles and functions of those positions determined by identified need.  
  • The development of a 10-year rural mental health service plan and workforce strategy, supported by a funded implementation plan and regular progress reporting to parliament.

The RANZCP said that even a small investment in growing the mental health workforce could have substantially improved access to mental health services across the state while longer term solutions are developed and implemented, as recommended in their pre-budget submission.

In 2022, an independent review of rural mental health services in South Australia found that rural South Australia has the lowest per capita number of psychiatrists in Australia, underscoring the urgent need for sustained investment in mental health.

The College has welcomed a number of commitments in the budget delivered by Treasurer Stephen Mullighan today, including:

  • $5 million over four years to support youth mental health services, including virtual urgent care services
  • $135.8 million over five years to build and upgrade around 442 additional social housing dwellings
  • $30 million to build 56 extra beds across the Queen Elizabeth and Lyell McEwin hospitals next year

The College is also keen to know more about the State Government’s plan to increase the capacity of forensic mental health services, after additional funding for prison beds was announced last week.

Quotes attributable to Patrick Clarke, RANZCP SA Branch Chair 

We know that the Malinauskas Government takes mental health seriously, so we are surprised that this budget does not have any new funding for our mental health workforce.

“A shortage of mental health specialists means many South Australian are left waiting, or missing out entirely, for care they urgently need. 

“There have been significant commitments in the past, including funding for additional mental health beds and long-term workforce planning. 

“Digital services are important, but they must be complemented by investments in the very foundation of our mental health system – its workforce.

"But there is still a large gap between what the community needs and what our mental health system can deliver.

“Today’s budget is a missed opportunity to take another few steps forward to address that gap.

“Collaboration is key, and we want to work with the government to improve mental health services across the state.”

Quotes attributable to Michelle Atchison, Elected Director at RANZCP Board 

“We were hopeful that this budget would provide some relief to people that are missing out on support due to workforce shortages in the mental health system, particularly in rural South Australia. 

“Digital mental health services can certainly provide some immediate relief, but we also need to get our basics right.

"To improve the availability and quality of mental health care across South Australia, we need to properly invest in the state's mental health workforce.

“Psychiatry trainees are already doctors, which means they can start providing care to the community right away under supervision. 

“Increasing training positions can help us cut down waiting times and offer greater support in emergency departments, making mental health care more accessible for South Australians.   

“Ensuring we have enough mental health workers in the state is key to delivering consistent and effective care.  

“The South Australian government has shown they’re committed to mental health before, so we urge them to continue prioritising mental health care in the state and work with us to develop sustainable solutions.”

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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