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Funds for mental health services

EMILY BRYAN | The Examiner | May 10, 2011, 2 p.m.

Mental health advocates are predicting a transformation of the sector, but the bulk of a $2.2 billion package announced in last night's budget won't start flowing until 2012-13.

Treasurer Wayne Swan announced $1.5 billion for initiatives over the next five years, focusing on young people and the severely mentally ill.

The budget announced $419 million would be spent on early psychosis prevention and intervention centres, as well as 30 new headspace centres providing services to young people.

headspace has a centre in Launceston, and was experiencing increasing demand nationwide.

"Mental health is major health issue faced by young people, with as many as one in four young Australians aged 12 to 25 experiencing a mental disorder in any year," chief executive Chris Tanti said.

More money will also be spent co-ordinating clinical and social support for the severely mentally ill, relieving pressure on families who have to navigate a complex system.

State Health Minister Michelle O'Byrne said the measure would also reduce pressure on hospital emergency departments.

"While there is much detail to work through, the Commonwealth has announced a raft of funding commitments which will build on Tasmania's mental health priorities and models of care," she said.

"It is particularly pleasing to see that the Commonwealth is committed to consistent, long-term planning for mental health services with the announcement of a 10-year road map."

The Mental Health Council of Australia said the pressure was now on state governments to build on the initiatives.

"The road to lasting reform will take many years, but the initiatives announced create an unstoppable momentum for change," chief executive Frank Quinlan said.

The package includes:

  • $571 million to co- ordinate services for 24,000 Australians with a severe mental illness.
  • $419 million for the early detection of mental illness in young people.
  • $220 million to make the primary care system "more responsive".
  • $32 million to establish a National Mental Health Commission reporting to the Prime Minister.
Courtesy of The Examiner


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