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Record investment a big step forward for mental health

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3 June 2021

Jewish Care welcomes the announcement of a record investment in mental health and suicide prevention in the latest State and Federal Budgets, which together represent a combined total of over $6 billion.

The State Government’s $3.8 billion commitment is the single largest investment in mental health anywhere in Australia, and is the first step in implementing the decade-long mental health reform recommended by the Royal Commission. It is complemented by the Federal Government’s record $2.3 billion investment, announced on 11 May.

This historic commitment demonstrates a recognition of the need for significant and sustained investment to meet the mental health needs of everyday Australians, and is the culmination of decades of advocacy by individuals, carers, families, peak bodies and mental health services.

“In any given year, 1 in 5 Australians are affected by mental ill health, and that number rises even further for vulnerable groups such as young people and the elderly,” said Jewish Care CEO Bill Appleby.

“It is our hope that this investment reflects a renewed commitment to proactive, compassionate and multi-disciplinary models of mental health care that place the individual at the centre of their recovery. In implementing this groundbreaking reform, Victoria is truly leading the way.”

Both the State and Federal Budgets are to be commended for their identification of suicide prevention as an urgent priority, and a focus on support for vulnerable communities including the LGBTIQ+ and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

It is, however, disappointing that the unique and diverse needs of multicultural and minority faith communities once again to appear to have been comparatively overlooked. While we welcome the State Budget’s commitment to a diverse communities’ mental health and wellbeing framework, the overall national investment includes only a modest allocation of funds to support the mental health needs of culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

“Past systems and policies have largely ignored the mental health needs of multicultural communities, and despite the best efforts of mainstream organisations to be inclusive for all, the responsibility for the vast majority of mental health care for individuals from diverse communities has fallen to unfunded community-based organisations and lay leaders,” said Manager of Individual and Family Services Marilyn Kraner.

“It is our hope that these new reforms will affirm the role of community organisations and leaders through a commitment to secondary consultation and co-design, in order to support a mental health system that is safe and accessible to all Australians.

“Jewish Care remains committed to continued advocacy for the consideration of the needs of diverse communities, including our own.”

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Click here for a full summary of the mental health inclusions in the State and Federal budgets.

If you or someone you know is in need of support, please reach out:

  • Jewish Care Front Door – 8517 5999
  • Lifeline – 13 11 14
  • Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467