2011 Federal Budget
(The information contained below was sourced from Budget 2011-12, Delivering better hospitals, mental health and health services, May 2011)
Last Tuesday, 10 May 2011, the Federal Government announced a major investment in mental health as part of its budget for 2011-2012. The Federal Treasurer announced a $2.2 billion package over five years to deliver on its commitment to make mental health a national priority.
In summary, the budget will deliver $1.5 billion in new initiatives over five years including:
- $571 million to expand services and improve their delivery for people with severe mental illness;
- $492 million for prevention and early intervention mental health services for children and young people;
- $220 million to improve access to the primary health care system for people with mental illness; and
- $32 million for a National Mental Health Commission to increase accountability and transparency, including $12 million in new funding
This package is in addition to the $624 million recently invested by the Federal Government, including funding for suicide prevention, expanding services such as headspace for young people, and more mental health nurses.
NSWCAG welcomes these commitments, but is concerned that much of the new funding will not be released until 2013-2014.
The Treasurer also announced an initiative to assist people on the Disability Support Pension (DSP) to obtain and maintain meaningful participation. Consultations conducted by NSWCAG with consumers have consistently indicated that meaningful social participation, including education, training and employment, plays a vital role in an individual’s recovery journey.
NSWCAG broadly supports the initiative that will allow consumers on the DSP to work up to 30 hours per week for two years without their eligibility being affected. However, NSWCAG is concerned that forcing an increase in participation may have unintended negative consequences for some consumers who face significant barriers to complying with the strict requirements already in place. Barriers such as stigma, experiences of trauma, homelessness, and lack of support during transition can make it difficult for consumers to comply with participation requirements.
NSWCAG would encourage the Government to consider implementing measures to ensure that an increase in participation requirements is coupled with measures to support consumers to achieve truly meaningful participation.