Senator the Hon Anne Ruston
Shadow Minister for Health and Aged Care
Shadow Minister for Sport
Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate
Melissa McIntosh MP
Shadow Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention
TERRY YOUNG MP
Federal Member for Longman
JOINT MEDIA RELEASE
15 December 2022
LABOR CUTS MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT FOR LONGMAN
It was very disappointing to see the Federal Labor Government’s announcement that they are cutting in half the additional Medicare-subsidised psychology sessions introduced by the Coalition for mental health support for vulnerable Australians.
As part of our response to support Australians in tough times, the former Coalition Government doubled the number of Medicare-subsidised psychology sessions available through the Better Access initiative from 10 to 20.
Going into the holiday period with a new Covid wave peaking, the cost of living and energy bills sky rocketing, and floods continuing to impact parts of the country, mental health support could not be more important for my local community in Longman.
But despite the significant pressures still impacting our community, the Federal Labor Government has decided to slash access to psychology sessions in half.
Shadow Minister for Health and Aged Care, Senator Anne Ruston said, ‘it is staggering that the Labor Government has decided right now is a good time to rip away additional mental health support from Australians who have been relying on it.”
‘Serious mental health issues are often at their highest two to three years after a crisis, pandemic or natural disaster, which is why it is absolutely vital that vulnerable Australians have continued access to the psychology sessions they need.’
“We know the holiday season can be a challenging time for people’s mental health and when they need support the most, the Government has proven they are not willing to provide that support,’ Shadow Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Melissa McIntosh MP said.
“Sadly, the Government is sending us down the track of mental health services becoming less and less accessible to millions of Australians,” Mrs McIntosh said.
“Member for Longman, Terry Young said, “these changes are particularly worrying for my local community, and I urge the Labor Government to re-think this decision.”
“Access to mental health support is critical right now, particularly for young people in my electorate, and this decision in the midst of the holiday season in my opinion is not a good one,” Terry Young said.
“I appreciate that this government have their own view on where the tax payers money should be spent and I respect that, but I question their priorities when they cut funding to critical services at a time like this.”
The independent evaluation of the Better Access initiative has even recommended that ‘the additional 10 sessions should continue to be made available and should be targeted towards those with complex mental health needs.’
The Labor Government needs to rethink their approach to mental health services Australians are relying on and explain why they have gone against Recommendation 12 of the review, and the needs of vulnerable Australians, by cutting this support.