26 September 2023

Billion-dollar injection for Health

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A $1.1 billion package has been announced to boost mental health services, domestic violence support and Medicare assistance as part of the COVID-19 pandemic response.

Announced by the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison $669 million of the package is to be provided to expand Medicare-subsidised telehealth services for Australians.

“Australians will be able to access support in their own home using their telephone, or video conferencing features like FaceTime to connect with GP services, mental health treatment, chronic disease management, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health assessments, services to people with eating disorders, pregnancy support counselling, services to patients in aged care facilities, children with autism, after-hours consultations and nurse practitioners,” Mr Morrison said.

He said providing a health service delivery without leaving home would be a key weapon in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

“This will take pressure off hospitals and emergency departments and allow people to access essential health services in their home, while supporting self-isolation and quarantine policies,” he said.

$150 million of the amount is to boost funding of programs under the National Plan to reduce Violence Against Women and their Children including the 1800RESPECT phone counselling hotline and Mensline Australia counselling service.

$74 million is to support the Department of Health’s Head to Health digital mental health portal, along with a new national mental health communication campaign to be delivered jointly with the National Mental Health Commission.

“$14 million will bolster the capacity of mental health support providers who have experienced an unprecedented surge in call volumes with funding increasing their capacity, including $5 million for Lifeline and $2 million for Kids Helpline,” Mr Morrison said.

He said health workers would also receive access to dedicated mental health support through digital platforms developed to provide advice, social support and opportunities for in-depth treatment without having to attend in-person sessions.

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