Federal budget a promising start, but more is needed for whole-of-sector mental health reform 

May 15, 2024 | All News & Media

Media Release from MHFA International

Mental Health First Aid International welcomes the Albanese Government’s 2024–25 Federal Budget which will invest $361 million over the next four years to expand the range of free mental health services for Australians.  

Angus Clelland, CEO of Mental Health First Aid International, says the global health promotion charity is pleased to see $139.9m for a new, free national early intervention service, noting that this will be crucial in helping people get earlier access to the support they need.   

“We also applaud the allocation of $29.9 million to the expansion of care through the Medicare Mental Health Centres, building on the established Head to Health network.” 

He says that while these are important steps in the right direction, and will help tens of thousands of Australians, more needs to be done to bring much needed early intervention, prevention and mental health awareness training programs into schools and universities.   

“Investing in these programs in schools and universities will not only increase mental health literacy and reduce stigma during critical years, but it will also give people the knowledge and skills they need to assist others and encourage help seeking earlier. In the long run, this will reduce the burden on the health system.”  

The organisation commends the Government’s decision to reduce HECS debt by $3 billion, but says further investment is needed to support the expansion of the mental health workforce. In particular, more needs to be done to provide additional incentives for individuals to pursue careers in the mental health workforce, including mental health nurses, psychiatrists and occupational therapists.

“The budget’s focus on expanding the range of free mental health services will play a vital role in strengthening Australia’s mental health and suicide prevention system, but national workforce shortages will act as a brake unless workforce shortages are prioritised,” Mr Clelland says.  

“There is much more investment needed, and much more we can do, to reduce the impact of mental health problems on individuals and in families, communities, education settings and workplaces across Australia.”  

Media contact

Nicole Richardson | media@mhfa.com.au | 0487 656 352

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