Department of Health data has revealed that Labor’s cuts to Medicare-subsidised psychology sessions has ripped away critical support from around 240,000 Australians, whilst countless more have been left without the possibility of accessing additional sessions.
In the response to a Question on Notice asked by Shadow Minister for Health and Aged Care, Senator the Hon Anne Ruston, it was also revealed there had been significant uptake of the additional 10 sessions – which had been available through the Better Access Initiative - prior to the Government’s cuts in January.
Over the course of 2022, 16,000 more Australians accessed the additional 10 mental health sessions in comparison to the previous year.
This increase in demand proves that the Albanese Labor Government blatantly disregarded the current needs of vulnerable Australians and the increasing pressures they are facing, particularly as the cost of living continues to rise.
Peak bodies have highlighted the need for mental health support especially through this cost-of-living crisis. headspace Australia’s recent national survey has identified the cost of living as one of the top three issues facing young people, whilst ReachOut’s survey found that “more than 50% of young people in Australia are stressed about the cost of living”.
“It is more important than ever to ensure that Australians have access to the mental health supports they need,” Senator Ruston said.
“It was outrageous to see the Government cut access to Medicare-subsidised psychology sessions in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis and at a time when we know mental health support should be a priority.”
Shadow Minister for Finance and Chair of the Senate Select Committee on the Cost of Living, Senator Jane Hume said the cost-of-living crisis is having a real impact on the mental health of Australians.
"Under Labor, Australians are facing tough decisions about their own budgets and it's taking a serious toll on many individuals. Labor must act before this cost-of-living crisis becomes a mental health crisis as well,” Senator Hume said.
Since Minister Butler held his mental health roundtable in January, we have not heard a word out of this government on what they are actually implementing to improve Australians’ access to mental health support during this challenging time.
Shadow Assistant Minister for Mental Health, Melissa McIntosh MP said, “It has been almost three months and we have seen no additional access, no additional measures, and absolutely no plan.”
“Youth mental health outcomes have been completely abandoned under the Albanese Government,” Ms McIntosh said.
The Coalition continues to call on the Government to reinstate the additional 10 Medicare-subsidised psychology sessions to ensure all Australians have access to the mental health support they need.