The 2011-12 Federal Budget has delivered a 10-year roadmap for mental health reform, which is the centrepiece of the $3 billion Budget healthcare funding package, with Treasurer Wayne Swan allocating $2.2 billion over five years via a National Mental Health Reform package.
"We demonstrate our commitment to addressing mental illness by making the room in a tight budget for $1.5 billion in new initiatives as part of our $2.2 billion package to deliver better care."
Improving the mental wellbeing of young Australians is a particular focus of the package, with $481 million in funding for healthcare models for young Australians and a further $212 million over five years for up to 12 youth psychosis sites.
Almost $1 billion is being spent on suicide prevention measures and to expand services for the estimated 60,000 Australians suffering with a severe mental illness.
While welcoming the general funding increase for mental health, Medicines Australia chief executive Brendan Shaw told Lawyers Weekly that the Budget was a major disappointment for failing to make important medicines available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
"It doesn't make sense that it will increase funding for mental health programs while making political decisions to exclude treatment measures on the PBS," he said.
In particular, Shaw cited the failure to include the schizophrenia treatment Invega Sustenna on the PBS.
In addition to mental health, regional health infrastructure was a major focus of the 2011-12 Federal Budget funding measures, with more than 60 regional health and hospital funds grants worth a total of $1.33 billion to be allocated over five years.
Meanwhile, Indigenous Australians will receive just under $530 million for education, employment and health services.
The Gillard Government also committed $55.4 billion for aged care programs over the next four years.
Atkinson Vinden Lawyers solicitor Leon Shohmelian welcomed measures to make reporting easier for care providers, but said that the question of providing incentives for new aged care facilities was not addressed.
"It was pretty disappointed with specific measures for aged care services," he said.
The government also announced the establishment of an Age Discrimination Commissioner and support team within the Australian Human Rights Commission.
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