Federal Election 2019

PACFA has prepared an Election Statement for the forthcoming federal election. The statement is aimed at raising the profile of counselling and psychotherapy during the election campaign and includes eight key actions the incoming Federal Government should take to improve access to counselling and psychotherapy services nationally.

PACFA calls for parties and candidates in the 2019 Election to commit to these eight actions:

  1. Ensure funding for a wide range of community-based counselling and psychotherapy services to support vulnerable communities such as refugees and asylum seekers, and homeless people
  2. Improve access to culturally appropriate counselling and psychotherapy services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  3. Increase funding for counselling services for carers to ensure that they can continue to provide effective support to the people they care for
  4. Boost the supply and distribution of the mental health workforce in rural and regional areas by including registered counsellors and psychotherapists in the workforce
  5. Increase access to counselling support via the NDIS using registered counsellors and psychotherapists
  6. Include counsellors and psychotherapists as service providers in the Better Access Initiative to address high prevalence mental health issues such as depression and anxiety via Medicare
  7. Better utilise the skills of counsellors and psychotherapists when working with employers to improve workplace mental health and wellbeing
  8. Increase federal funding for school counselling services to ensure every child requiring mental health support receives counselling services at school

Registered counsellors and psychotherapists have a contribution to make in each of these actions.

All members are encouraged to write to the leaders of the major parties and to their local candidates to ask them to take action on the eight key actions set out in PACFA’s statement.

Election policies on mental health

The major parties have announced a range of policy initiatives around mental health for the forthcoming election (see summary below). More action in needed, however, to ensure we can improve access to much-needed counselling and psychotherapy services nationally.

Following the election on the 18th May, PACFA will be ready to support whichever party forms the next government to improve access to counselling and psychotherapy services in the interests of those in the community requiring mental health support.

Some of the Federal Government’s mental health policy commitments were included in the 2019 budget announcements in early April, which have been supported by the opposition.  Some new  initiatives have also been announced:

  • $263 million for expanding headspace over 7 years
  • $110 million over 2 years for supporting early psychosis youth services
  • $2 million investment in the Young Ambassadors for Mental Health project
  • $34.1 million over 4 years for Indigenous suicide prevention
  • $15 million in a new nationwide suicide and self-harm monitoring system
  • $11.8 million for early childhood and parenting support
  • $114.5 million over 6 years for community mental health centres
  • $63 million over 7 years for residential eating disorders programs
  • $15.2 million over 4 years for mentally healthy workplaces
  • $44 million over 7 years for perinatal support
  • $22.5 million for mental health research

The Labor opposition has announced a number of initiatives around mental health including:

  • $22.4 million to deliver more inpatient mental health beds at Casey Hospital in south-east Melbourne to take pressure off the hospital’s emergency department
  • $1 million for a Veterans Recovery Centre (VRC) in Ipswich, Queensland
  • $4.9 million for the Scott Palmer Service and Veterans’ Support Hub in the Top End for current and ex-serving Defence personnel, first responders and their families, named after Private Scott Travis Palmer who lost his life in Afghanistan in 2010
  • $29.6 million to improve access to culturally appropriate health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to reduce youth suicide and poor mental health in highly vulnerable communities
  • Tasking the National Mental Health Commission with developing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health Plan

The Greens have announced that they would:

  • Improve access to online services
  • Support young people to help other young people with peer to peer services through providing 1,000 places for peer to peer workers and opportunities for young people to train as peer workers through our free TAFE initiative
  • $250 million over four years in grant funding for community-based assertive outreach programs targeted at children and young people in crisis
  • $25 million over four years for a trial of 50,000 children and young adults to access 10 group sessions of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
  • Support young people at work by expanding the Individual Placement and Support trial
  • $10 million for a youth mental health stigma strategy