Labor’s Budget was full of healthcare headlines, but it was almost empty on much-needed measures relating to mental health and women’s health.
We know that sensible investments into these areas has the ability to make a real impact on the lives of vulnerable Australians and their families, which is why it was so disappointing to see them forgotten by the Albanese Labor Government.
Affordable access to mental health is more important than ever before, as the rising cost-of-living pressures currently impacting Australians is placing increased demand on support services across the country.
Lifeline has reported that 80% of the calls it receives are now related to cost-of-living.
Recommendation 12 of the Governments commissioned Better Access Evaluation clearly stated, ‘the additional 10 sessions should continue to be made available and should be targeted towards those with complex mental health needs.’
But the Labor Government removed this support from some of the most vulnerable in our community.
That is why, as the Opposition Leader Peter Dutton announced in his Budget-in-Reply speech last night, the Coalition has committed to reinstate permanently the full 20 Medicare-subsidised psychology sessions, that we originally introduced in Government.
This will restore much needed and affordable access to mental health support for Australians who are doing it tough.
“The Government could have come out today in support of mental health and joined the Coalition in the reinstatement of these vital sessions,” Shadow Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Melissa McIntosh said.
“Instead, it is extremely disappointing that the Health Minister has criticised supporting Australians struggling with their mental health, by stating providing more psychology sessions was a ‘lazy’ policy. What message does that send to every single Australian seeking or receiving support right now?”
Ensuring continued support and investment in women’s health is also essential and that is why the Opposition Leader confirmed the Coalition’s commitment of investing $4 million to Ovarian Cancer Australia, so they can continue their critical work.
Shadow Minister for Health Senator Ruston said, “we understand that of all the cancers specifically affecting women, ovarian cancer is the deadliest. Additional support into this area has the ability to make a serious impact on the lives of women battling this terrible disease and their families.”
This commitment builds on the Coalition’s proud record of funding many important women’s health initiatives including for endometriosis research and treatment, breast cancer and cervical cancer screening programs.
The Coalition will also allocate $5 million to review women-specific health items on the Medicare Benefits Schedule and corresponding treatments on the PBS.
The review will identify what best-practice women specific medical services are not listed and ensure clinically effective services and treatments remain affordable and accessible.
This review will also help to determine where additional funding is required to better support women’s health and well-being.
“The Coalition is proud to stand for more affordable access to mental health support and better access to quality healthcare for women. This is unlike the Labor Government as disappointingly mental health and women’s health was not a priority of their budget.” Senator Ruston said.