Collaboration • Knowledge • Leadership

Collaboration • Knowledge • Leadership

Missed opportunity, lost momentum: Federal Budget fails mental health

Mar, 2022

Mental Health Victoria’s Acting CEO Larissa Taylor said last night’s Federal Budget indicates that mental health and suicide reform are no longer "first tier" federal government priorities.

Less than a year ago in the 2021-22 Budget, the government made a significant investment in mental health while acknowledging that it was the “first instalment” to address the findings of the Productivity Commission’s report. However, the figures in the 2022-2023 Budget reveal that mental health is no longer a priority and many of the Productivity Commission’s recommendations remain untouched.

“There is a great deal of missing detail in the budget papers, but what is immediately clear is that it is a missed opportunity," Taylor said. “While there are welcome investments hinted at in the budget papers, fundamentally the federal government has lost the momentum it established in last year’s budget, a mere 10 months ago.

"The underwhelming scale of its investment fails to match the reform vision of the Victorian system, and Mental Health Victoria is concerned that these measures are simply insufficient to meet the escalating needs of Australians.”

The Federal Budget purports to allocate a total of $547 million to mental health and suicide prevention over the next five years. This includes a number of urgent and essential investments welcomed by Mental Health Victoria, including:

  • Over $40 million allocated to meet the increased demand and support for the mental health of residents in flood affected areas in NSW and Queensland
  • $13.6 million over 2 years from 2021-22 to continue funding for the Victorian head-to-help clinics until February 2023 and extend NSW pop-up clinics until December 2022
  • Over $40 million to extend targeted regional initiatives to prevent suicide across Australia.

However, much of what is authentically "new" within the $547 million headline figure is difficult to immediately decipher from the budget papers.

"Disappointed and worried"

A number of initiatives have already been announced by the Federal Government over previous months, and a significant number of long-established mental health programs and initiatives are due to have their funding "rolled over" in 2022.

“What many Australians were desperately counting on last night was a bold vision for placing mental health and wellbeing investment at the heart of Australia’s post-COVID-19 recovery," said Taylor.

“A vision that fixes — or at least acknowledges — the escalating workforce crisis across the nation, that explicitly links to the recommendations of the Productivity Commission, that values community centred models of care, and that values and prioritises lived experience leadership.

"On all counts, Mental Health Victoria is both disappointed and worried. There is still time for the Federal Government to provide details on that vision before Australians go to the polls over the coming weeks. But it is getting late."

Next Tuesday 5 April, Mental Health Victoria will be hosting a post-budget webinar featuring Hon. David Coleman MP, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, together with lived and living experience leaders and mental health policy and economics experts.

Nearly 500 individuals and organisations currently registered will have the opportunity to pose follow up questions to Assistant Minster Coleman. Media are invited.

For further information or to arrange an interview with Larissa, please call Clare Callow on 0410 147 988.


Summary of Federal Budget measures for mental health

The government will provide $547.0 million over five years from 2021-22 to provide mental health Stage 2 reforms through the five pillars of the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan: Prevention and Early Intervention, Suicide Prevention, Treatment, Supporting Vulnerable Australians and Workforce and Governance.


Payments ($m)







Department of Health






Services Australia






National Indigenous Australians Agency




Department of Veterans’ Affairs




Department of Defence









Prevention and Early Intervention ($76.4m)


Over 4 years from 2022‑23

To support Lifeline to provide mental health supports


Over 3 years from 2022‑23

To establish nationally consistent mechanisms to better manage mental health and wellbeing in schools, including a national measure of student wellbeing, national guidelines for accreditation of programs and professional development for teachers


Over 3 years from 2022‑23

To support innovative, evidence-based mental health and suicide prevention research activities


Over 2 years from 2021‑22

To support the Raise Foundation to deliver its early intervention and prevention mentoring programs for ‘at risk’ Year 8 students at public secondary schools


Over 2 years from 2022-23

To continue development of the Raising Healthy Minds app to improve mental health literacy in Australian parents and carers


Over 2 years from 2022-23

To continue support for youth mental health services on the Mornington Peninsula


Suicide Prevention ($46.7m)


Over 2 years from 2022‑23

To extend the National Suicide Prevention Trial and support regional initiatives for suicide prevention including by funding a Regional Response Leader in each of Australia’s 31 PHNs and data development, reporting and evaluation of the rollout


Over 2 years from 2022-23

To extend the Suicide Prevention Research Fund delivered by Suicide Prevention Australia


Treatment ($285.5m)


Over 3 years from 2022‑23

To provide young Australians with severe mental illness continued access to services


Over 4 years from 2022‑23

To continue funding existing eating disorder services and to support a pilot program to identify innovative, evidence-based models of care for people with eating disorders

Note: this funding includes $1.3m for the Wandi Nerida residential recovery centre to continue to provide treatment, and $1.6m for the National Eating Disorders Collaboration (NEDC) and $1.1m for the Butterfly Foundation to implement projects, provide advice to government and develop clinical resources


Over 4 years from 2022-23

To establish a case conferencing item on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) to support eligible patients to access coordinated, multidisciplinary mental health care

Note: up to four mental health case conferences between eligible providers are available each calendar under the Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners MBS initiative or an Eating Disorder Treatment and Management Plan (EDTMP)


Over 5 years from 2021-22

To extend a range of headspace programs including headspace Schools Suicide Prevention Activities Program and Flying headspace until June 2026, and the headspace Digital Work and Study Program until June 2023


Over 2 years from 2021-22

To continue funding for Victorian head-to-help clinics until February 2023 and NSW pop-up clinics until December 2022


In 2022-23

To continue to provide COVID-19 support through digital mental health services


Supporting the Vulnerable ($44.9m)


Over 2 years from 2022‑23

To provide mental health support to multicultural communities across Australia, including a single $10m top-up in funding for the Program of Assistance for Survivors of Torture and Trauma (PASTT) and $7.8m to provide access to translating and interpreting services through PHN-commissioned mental health services


Over 3 years from 2022-23

To establish the National Closing the Gap Policy Partnership on Social and Emotional Wellbeing to advise on policy and implementation of actions to address social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention Closing the Gap targets

Note: the Partnership will be co-led by a Coalition of Peak Organisations representatives and the scope of the partnership will be co-designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and state and territory governments.


Over 3 years from 2022-23

To expand culturally appropriate programs in 16 communities across the NT through the Red Dust program, focused on social and emotional wellbeing, sexual health, relationships, alcohol and other drugs, and Foetal Spectrum Disorder


In 2021-22

To establish a National Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Centre, to be the national hub of expertise in treatment for trauma-related mental health conditions


In 2021-22

To extend the MBS items for Australians impacted by the 2019–20

bushfires until June 2022


Over 2 years from 2021-22

To provide mental health supports to the Devonport community in Tasmania following the tragedy at Hillcrest Primary School


Workforce and Governance ($93.2m)


Over 5 years from 2022‑23

To implement the first stages of the 10-year National Mental Health Workforce Strategy, including $28.6m to bolster the psychiatry workforce, $18.3m to develop a national mental health ‘pathways to practice’ program for nursing, allied health and psychology students, $6.2m to support the mental health of workers, $4.7m to provide GPs with access to psychiatry input, $1.3m to boost capacity of workers to treat people with substance use and mental ill health and $0.4m to deliver a stigma reduction program and promote mental health careers to students


Over 5 years from 2021-22

To support headspace centres in regional, rural and remote areas to attract and employ GPs and provide a more complete model of enhanced primary care


Over 4 years from 2022-23

To support the Australian Public Service (APS) Commission to continue the APS Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Unit’s work to implement and maintain a mental health framework for APS employees

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