David Littlerpoud MP David Littlerpoud

What the 2021-22 Budget means for mental health support in Maranoa

May 17, 2021

There’s not much that ruffles Maranoa MP David Littleproud but there’s one statistic that truly shocks him: Suicide was the leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 24 in Australia.

“Our $2.3 billion investment in mental health and suicide prevention – the largest investment in Australia’s history – includes direct benefits for bush communities,” Mr Littleproud said.

A new national network of 57 additional mental health treatment centres and satellites, as well as an expansion of the Headspace program, will bolster services for the young and ageing in the bush.

“We shouldn’t lose a young person – or anyone for that matter – by their own hand and that’s why access to services is so important, especially in the bush because communities are often located hundreds-of-kilometres away from a larger town or city,” he said.

“I represent about 42% of rural and remote Queensland and one of the barries people tell me that prevents them accessing mental health services is not being able to connect with a professional or services locally.

“That’s why this Budget delivers $202 million for the mental health workforce, including $58.8 million aimed at boosting the number of psychiatrists, mental health nurses, psychologists and allied health practitioners in mental health services. More than $15 million is also available to support GPs to train and upskill to provide mental health care in the regions.

“This is a health Budget especially for the almost eight million Australians who live and work in the regions. All Australians, regardless where they live, should have access to high quality health care.

“In this Budget, we’re investing in the rural training pipeline and improve the financial viability of rural practice, helping grow the nation’s highly skilled and vital rural health workforce.

“A measure with immediate impact on the bottom-line for our doctors, from January 1, at a cost of more than $65 million in the first four years, of a new progressive bulk billing schedule to better acknowledge remoteness under the Medicare Benefits Schedule.

“The Coalition understands doctors face greater health complexities and challenges in rural and remote areas, which is why more than 12,000 GPs will be eligible for a higher bulk billing incentive.

“Enhancing the financial viability of GP practices in rural towns and remote areas is just one of the things governments need to do to ensure we are attracting doctors to where they are most needed.”

Fact box: Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

  • $2.3 billion, the largest single mental health and suicide prevention investment in Australia’s history.
  • Prevention and early intervention $248.6 million;
  • Suicide Prevention $298.1 million;
  • Treatment $1.4 billion – Head to Health Adult Mental Health Centres – 8 new centres, 24 satellite ($487.2m) and expanding headspace -10 new centres, 5 satellite ($278.6m);
  • Support for the Vulnerable $107 million – $79m for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention; and
  • Workforce and Governance $202 million – $58.8m to boost the number of psychiatrists, nurses psychologists and allied health practitioners in mental health settings, $15.9m to support GPs to upskill and provide primary mental health care.