WayAhead welcomes mental health budget initiatives but still calls for the Newstart allowance to be increased
WayAhead welcomes the federal government’s significant investment in key areas of mental health including suicide prevention, mental health in older Australians and long-term mental health research, says WayAhead Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Priestley.
“It was pleasing to hear last night that the government is prioritising these three areas of mental health which will go a long way in saving lives,” said Ms Priestley.
In terms of suicide prevention, WayAhead is very pleased to see an extra $33 million being allocated to Lifeline allowing them to be more responsive to crisis calls from suicidal people. WayAhead also welcomes the government’s $37 million investment in BeyondBlue’s Way Back program which directly helps those Australians leaving hospital after a suicide attempt.
“I think we have known for some time now that the supports for people returning to the community after a suicide attempt is not as effective as it needs to be and I am hopeful that this extra funding will further help people with their recovery,” said Ms Priestley.
Ms Priestley pointed to the $82 million investment into mental health in aged care facilities as being a significant step to better address mental health and wellness in older Australians, saying that this funding is well overdue.
There are a range of other mental health measures in last night’s budget welcomed by WayAhead, which include:
- A long-term approach to mental health research through the Million Minds Research Program
- $12 million of additional funding to the National Mental Health Commission to help in the delivery of the 5th National Mental Health Plan
- $1.2 million to SANE’s Better off with you program
WayAhead was disappointed that the budget did not provide an increase to the Newstart allowance, particularly after so many sections of the Australian community have called for an increase in the last few weeks.
“Living on Newstart is incredibly difficult and I would think that living on $39 a day is totally impossible for most Australians. We know that financial pressures place a severe impact on anyone’s mental health and wellness,” said Ms Priestley.
WayAhead strongly believes that the Newstart allowance should be increased so people looking for work are assisted to better help themselves out of their current situation, which in turn makes a positive contribution to their mental health and wellness.