The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) welcomes the $338 million mental health investment in the federal government’s 2018-2019 budget.
‘We commend the budget’s focus on suicide prevention, mental health research and a commitment to build the capability of Australia’s medical workforce, particularly in rural and remote areas’, said RANZCP President, Dr Kym Jenkins.
‘The budget allocation of $83.3 million to align health workforce distribution to areas of greatest need is an important step towards addressing the significant shortage of psychiatrists working in rural and remote Australia.
‘The general undersupply of psychiatrists is compounded by their maldistribution, particularly in rural areas, and this is worsening as trainee psychiatrists continue to report a continuing inclination to practice in the urban centres.
‘We look forward to the government expanding their commitment to support rural specialists in Australia and reiterate the need to develop integrated rural training pathways for psychiatrists to address their undersupply
‘We are also pleased to see investment to provide outreach by expanding follow-up care and practical support to people discharged from hospital after a suicide attempt.
‘However the RANZCP is concerned that there is limited focus on helping address the harms caused by excessive alcohol and other drug addiction,’ Dr Jenkins said.
In more detail, the budget includes:
- $83 million for increased support for mental health services in residential aged care facilities to combat depression and loneliness
- Additional support for research into mental health with $110 million for a research fund over 10 years
- $37.6 million investment in a new mental health Outreach Clinic Program
- $77million for infant and maternal health
- Increases to the Veterans’ Reform Package to support veterans’ mental health and employment initiatives
- Additional support for the National Mental Health Commission
RANZCP also welcomes the other health-related budget measures including:
- $550 million for a rural health strategy which will support the expansion of Australian-trained junior doctor rotations in supervised rural primary care settings, and an additional 100 Rural Generalist training positions
- 20.4 million to support for the Royal Flying Doctors’ Service
- 4.8 billion increases to Medicare funding
- $30 billion public hospital funding boost
- Expanded services for Australians in residential aged care settings
‘Overall, the budget is an important step towards addressing the gap between growing burden of disease associated with mental health conditions and the capacity of existing services to meet both unmet needs and growing community expectations of mental health care.
MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Jessica Antcliff or 03 9236 9107
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.