The Liberal National Government will provide a record funding commitment for community mental health services nationally, including in the Parkes electorate, through Primary Health Networks (PHNs).
Member for Parkes Mark Coulton welcomed the announcement, and said the funding will contribute strongly to a more integrated mental health system.
“The Western NSW PHN is expected to receive more than $42 million over a three year period to meet the specific mental health needs in our western region,” Mr Coulton said.
“Hunter New England and Central Coast PHN, which includes Parkes electorate towns such as Gunnedah, Moree and Narrabri, is expected to receive more than $76 million over the same period.
“PHNs were set up as an independent regional health organisation to commission health services including mental health, in response to the needs of local communities.
“Nearly half of the Australian population will experience mental illness at some point in their lives, but less than half will access treatment. That’s why this funding is extremely important.”
Minister for Health, Greg Hunt said PHNs coordinate local support for child and youth mental health, psychological therapy, severe and complex illness, community-based suicide prevention and Indigenous mental health.
“In 2017–18, about 200,000 Australians accessed over 900,000 mental health services through local providers commissioned by PHNs,” Minister Hunt said.
“The record three year $1.45 billion funding commitment will commence from July this year until 2021-22 and is $170 million more than what was provided for the previous three years.
“It will continue to support important services such as headspace centres, psychological services for hard to reach groups, suicide prevention activities, mental health nurses and mental health support for older Australians.”
Minster Hunt said the Government will also change the way that PHNs are funded to ensure that the staff who deliver these critical services will no longer face uncertainty on short term contracts.
“This will allow longer term planning, provide job certainty for thousands of people employed in the sector, and deliver a stronger mental health system,” said Minister Hunt.
“The new funding process will dramatically improve their ability to ensure that services can be commissioned well in advance at any point in time, and provide greater funding certainty for the community-based mental health sector.”
“This will particularly benefit those living in rural and remote areas, where staffing shortages due to employment uncertainty have historically reduced access to mental health services.”
The Liberal National Government has prioritised better mental health for all Australians with $4.7 billion expected to be spent on mental health this financial year.
It is estimated that the record $1.45 billion in funding over three years includes:
• $177 million for mental health nurses
• $77 million for suicide prevention including Indigenous suicide
• $74 million for the mental health of those in residential aged care
• $89 million for Indigenous mental health
• $617 million for youth mental health including headspace
• $399 million for psychological therapies for hard to reach populations