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Hunt offers less for youth mental health programs than we spent on the postal survey

Amidst much fanfare, Greg Hunt announced yesterday that there would be an injection of more than $100 million into school mental health programs and a range of new Headspace centres.


Except I seem to recall:


Mental health organisations cut services and staff amid funding uncertainty

Forty per cent of mental health agencies say they have already lost staff as a result of the uncertainty, while more than half report a reduction in services to their clients, according to a survey of 75 organisations which receive Commonwealth funding, conducted by Mental Health Australia.

Mental Health Australia chief executive Frank Quinlan said the typically short-term funding cycles for mental health programs, a lack of clarity about how the National Disability Insurance Scheme would affect funding arrangements, and a national review of existing mental health programs had combined to create a “perfect storm of indecision.”

Health Minister Peter Dutton would only confirm funding until the end of June.

28 May 2015

Youth mental health service Headspace facing funding crisis, experts warn

Young people will be turned away from clinics of popular youth mental health service Headspace because funding has been frozen, experts warn.

Documents obtained by the ABC show the federal Department of Health has told the centres their funding will not be indexed and it will remain the same for 2015-16.

Professor Ian Hickie from the Brain and Mind Research Institute, which runs one of Australia’s busiest Headspace centres at the University of Sydney, said he was worried young people would miss out on crucial mental health services.

“Because of the funds freeze in indexation, we are not able to replace clinical staff who have left in recent times,” he said. “We have had to make it clear to all staff that we cannot guarantee their positions over the next 12 months, pending resolution of the total amounts to be received from Headspace. These are staff directly employed under the Headspace grant to assess young people presenting with mental health difficulties.”

APRIL 29 2016

‘Futures will be lost’: Health fears as youth psychosis program dropped

Leading mental health expert Patrick McGorry warns young people with early psychosis could become at greater risk of suicide, as the Turnbull government prepares to scrap funding for the specialist treatment program he helped establish.

The Department of Health told the centres this month that it had “decided to discontinue implementation of the Early Psychosis Youth Services (EPYS) model of care” in a letter obtained by Fairfax Media. The department will cut centres’ $156 million funding to 75 per cent this year, and down to 30 per cent next year.

June 21, 2016

Headspace CEO leaves in frustration as Turnbull government dismantles vital mental health initiative

THE Turnbull government is quietly dismantling the youth mental health initiative Headspace, according to its chief executive, who is leaving the organisation in frustration.

Chris Tanti, who was the foundation’s CEO when Headspace was created in 2006, says the federal government’s “bizarre” decision to stop funding Headspace directly and hand control to 31 Primary Health Networks (PHNs) over two years will effectively mean its demise.

“The regional PHNs may decide that they don’t want to invest the money in early intervention. The money’s not ring-fenced. It’s pretty devastating when we still haven’t actually completed the build of 100 centres. We’re at 94,” he said.

“We’ve had two positive evaluations and our early psychosis program is just establishing. We’re all happy to broaden our criteria to see additional young people with complex problems, but we can’t do that if the system is being dismantled.”

Mr Tanti on Wednesday agreed to accept a redundancy because the government has reduced its national office budget from $19 million to $8 million per annum next year, and $5 million the following year.

May 11, 2017

Mental health funding in the 2017 budget is too little, unfair and lacks a coherent strategy

This week’s federal budget allocated A$115 million in new funding over four years. This is one of the smallest investments in the sector in recent years.

For instance, the Council of Australian Governments (CoAG) added more than $5.5 billion to mental health spending in 2006. The 2011-12 federal budget provided $2.2 billion in new funding.

This compounds a situation in which, in 2014-15, mental health received around 5.25% of the overall health budget while representing 12% of the total burden of disease.

We lack a coherent national strategy to tackle mental health. New services have been established this year, but access to them may well depend on where you live or who is looking after you. This is chance, not good planning.


So, whilst Mr Hunt’s announcement is welcome, he is offering less than we spent on the marriage equality postal survey thingy.

Excuse my cynicism but… is it an election year?


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  1. babyjewels10

    Suspect we’ll see a lot of this going on this year. The budget will be interesting.

  2. David Stakes

    All part of LNP tactics, take money away. Let it starve for a while. Then beat up an announcement of new funding, most have forgotten its less than original funding. LNP are good at this tactic.

  3. Jaquix

    Nobody seems very impressed.

  4. Jack Russell

    Not a vote winner Mr EconomicHunt … you needn’t have bothered.

  5. Möbius Ecko

    An old Howard tactic. Slash and burn, create a crisis and then on the back of a propaganda campaign, with a significant tax payer funded component, implement a rescue package at a fraction of what was taken away.

    Keep an eye out for the other part of this sham. Implementing onerous conditions and barriers for the proposed funding so that not all of it gets allocated. It was the threat of revelation in the disparity between budgeted money for Howard policies and the amount actually spent that saw Costello go to court to successfully have that information suppressed as “not in the public interest”. By the way, I believe “not in the public interest” is a Howard invention.

  6. Terry2

    In the 2016 election we didn’t have to have, Labor were criticised for what was called a Mediscare campaign when they pointed to the gradual dsimantling by under funding of our once acclaimed universal healthcare system.

    Since then it has got worse, much, much worse as we continue to subsidise the inefficient and rapacious private health insurance companies to the tune of $6.5 Billion a year.

  7. Ricardo29

    Isn’t it part of Orwell’s Newspeak “Less is more”? Off topic, I know, but isn’t it outrageous that the head of Borderforce Roman Quadbike is on extended leave on full pay of approx $2000 a day while being investigated for some sort of unprofessional conduct at the same time as welfare recipients continue to be dunned for alleged, often wrong, overpayments which, universally, would be less than a week’s wages for this spiv? Another example of something wrong with this government. Quadbike innocent 7ntil proven guilty, Welfare recipient, prove your innocence. Double standard anyone?

  8. David Evans

    I missed this “Major Announcement”, did the useless hunt use a chrome plated shovel, and was he wearing fluoro, safety specs and hard hat? This buffoon will leave duttons claim to fame as being the worst Health Minister ever in Australia wallowing. He is a flip flopping wind sock, nothing more. After all the fiascos he created with his and abbotts direct action, green army, “carbon tax” repeal, emissions auctions etc etc how could anybody have any faith in him actually achieving anything as Health Minister?

  9. diannaart

    Apparently we, the people, can afford yet another postal survey:


    Malcolm Turnbull has flagged another postal survey as a way of answering whether Australia should become a republic, citing the “success” of the marriage equality survey as proof it could finally decide the issue.

    Now this could explain the paltry sum for youth metal health, however, I believe a few less submarines could go a long way towards looking after the well being of Australians… just sayin’..

    Seems LNP has an odd method in fiscal management – not the least in establishing priorities.

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