Media Releases

Funding Support for Mental Health, Medicare and Domestic Violence Services

April 3, 2020

$1.1 Billion to Support More Mental Health, Medicare and Domestic Violence Services

More assistance is being provided to millions of Australians battling the devastating impacts of coronavirus with a $1.1 billion package which boosts mental health services, domestic violence support, medicate assistance for people at home and emergency food relief.

“The government is committed to saving lives and supporting livelihoods.” Mr Falinski said.

“This funding will provide much needed support to Australians facing hardship through no fault of their own.”

An initial $74 million will be provided to support the mental health and wellbeing of all Australians.

The Government’s digital mental health portal, Head to Health (www.headtohealth.gov.au), will be a single source of authoritative information and guidance on how to maintain good mental health during the coronavirus pandemic and in self-isolation, how to support children and loved ones, and how to access further mental health services and care.

$10 million will be provided to create a dedicated coronavirus well being support line, delivered by Beyond Blue, to help people experiencing concern due to a coronavirus diagnosis, or experiencing stress or anxiety due to employment changes, business closure, financial difficulties, family pressures or other challenges.

Mental Health support providers are set to receive a $14 million boost, a sector which has experienced an unprecedented surge in call volumes since the COVID-19 outbreak began. This includes $5 million for Lifeline and $2 million for Kids Helpline.

“With everything that is going on sadly, it is no surprise that Lifeline and other mental health support providers are seeing an increase in calls.”

“During these difficult times, we must ensure everyone who needs support, gets it.”

To help younger Australians stay on track in their education and training and prepare them for the workforce, $6.75 million will be provided to deliver the headspace digital work and study service and eheadspace.

Domestic violence support 

An initial $150 million will be provided to support Australians experiencing domestic, family and sexual violence due to the fallout from coronavirus.

Google is seeing the highest magnitude of searches for domestic violence help that they have seen in the past five years with an increase of 75 per cent and some services are already reporting an increase in demand.

The funding will boost programs under the National Plan to reduce Violence against Women and their Children including:

  • Counselling support for families affected by, or at risk of experiencing, domestic and family violence including men’s behaviour change programs which will provide a short, medium and longer term response to support men.
  • 1800RESPECT, the national domestic, family and sexual violence counselling service, which already answers around 160,000 calls a year.
  • Mensline Australia, the national counselling service for men that provides support for emotional health and relationship concerns for men affected by or considering using violence.
  • Trafficked People Program to support particularly vulnerable cohorts such as victims of human trafficking, forced marriage, slavery and slavery-like practices.
  • Support programs for women and children experiencing violence to protect themselves to stay in their homes, or a home of their choice, when it is safe to do so.

A new public communication campaign will roll out to support those experiencing domestic violence over this period and to ensure those affected know where they can seek help.

Minister Payne and Minister Ruston will convene a COAG Women’s Safety Council meeting on Monday to discuss with the states and territories how to best deliver this funding to support local responses to this issue.

Mental health support

A new national communications campaign, delivered in conjunction with the National Mental Health Commission, will provide information about maintaining mental wellbeing, raise awareness of the signs of when you or a loved one needs to get additional assistance, and where to find further information, support and care. 

Health workers, who will be at the frontline of the pandemic, will get dedicated mental health support through digital platforms developed to provide advice, social support, assistance in managing stress and anxiety, and more in-depth treatment without having to attend in-person sessions.

To ensure that older Australians in aged care are not socially isolated despite visiting restrictions, $10 million will be provided to the Community Visitors Scheme. The funding will mean extra staff to train volunteer visitors, who will connect with older people in aged care online and by phone, and assist older Australians keep in touch with the community and loved ones.

To help younger Australians stay on track in their education and training and prepare them for the workforce, $6.75 million will be provided to deliver the headspace digital work and study service and eheadspace. Mentors and headspace vocational specialists working in an integrated team will offer technical and life skills, providing a comprehensive digital support service for all young Australians during the COVID-19 pandemic and after. 

For Indigenous Australians, whose elders and communities are particularly vulnerable to the impact’s coronavirus, Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia will develop culturally appropriate mental health and wellbeing resources. These will be available and easily accessible across a range of platforms, including print, podcast, NITV, Indigenous print media and internet/social media platforms.

$28.3 million will be utilised to continue to deliver psychosocial support to Commonwealth community mental health clients for a further 12 months. This will allow additional time for people with severe and complex mental illness to complete their applications and testing for support under the National Disability Insurance Scheme

Relief services for vulnerable Australians

An additional $200 million will be provided to support charities and other community organisations which provide emergency and food relief as demand surges as a result of coronavirus.

Given the unprecedented nature of the situation, emergency relief services are being heavily relied upon and this demand will increase.

The Community Support Package will provide flexible funding to boost support to services where demand is quickly increasing, including:

  • Emergency Relief which will help vulnerable Australians who need assistance with bills, food, clothing or petrol and increase and retain workforce capacity including volunteers.
  • Assistance for food relief organisations to source additional food and transport for emergency relief service providers, and rebuild workforce capacity.
  • Immediately scale-up services through the National Debt Helpline — which is often the first point of contact for people experiencing financial difficulties, and to support one-on-one tele-financial counselling.
  • Creating a short-form Financial Counselling course through Financial Counselling Australia to train new financial counsellors to boost the workforce, potentially providing hundreds of new jobs.
  • Expanding access to safe, affordable financial products through the No Interest Loan Scheme which provides an immediate financial relief alternative to other high-risk, high-interest products such as credit cards and payday loans.

Ends

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