The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) welcomes the overall focus on, and increase in, mental health funding in the federal government’s 2017-18 budget.
“The RANZCP is particularly pleased by the range of budget measures which address the care and support of people with mental health disorders including the focus on veterans and suicide prevention programs,” the new RANZCP President, Dr Kym Jenkins said.
“The $80 million funding for psychosocial support services for people with severe mental illness who are not eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme is an important initiative and recognizes the important services outside the NDIS and the needs of the broader community for psychosocial services.
“We are also pleased to see $11.1 million allocated to suicide prevention programs in so called hotspot locations,” she said.
“The funding for mental health research is particularly welcome and will increase our research capacity in prevention and early intervention.
“The $350 million for mental health services for veterans recognizes that the earlier a veteran gets treatment the better for their health outcomes. We also support the abolition of the condition where a veteran had to prove that their mental health condition was related to their service to receive care.
“While the RANZCP is pleased to see that the budget restores indexation of the Medicare rebate we are disappointed that the progressive lifting of the Medicare rebate is so slow with GPs and psychiatrists waiting more than a year before they see the benefits.
“We are also concerned by the pilot of a drug testing trial of 5,000 Newstart recipients, and the harsh responses if testing positive for drugs and alcohol, as these are vulnerable people who are often dealing with addiction and mental illness and what they need is medical assistance not further stress by taking away their income support,” Dr Jenkins said.
The RANZCP also welcomes other health-related budget measures including:
- The proposed Medicare Safety Net changes will no longer proceed
- The MBS review will continue to be supported
- Providing certainty for the full funding of the NDIS by increasing the Medicare Levy
- Funding of $33.4 million for the redress scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse in institutional settings
- Funding to expand Specialist Domestic Violence Units designed to provide integrated, trauma-informed services to women and children.
“All in all this budget demonstrates the priority the government is giving to health, and in particular to mental health, and we look forward to working with them on these priorities,” Dr Jenkins said.
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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 on mental health care. For information about our work, our members or our history, visit www.ranzcp.org.