The Federal Budget has overlooked people in crisis across the nation and not invested adequately in frontline suicide prevention services.
Suicide Prevention Australia, the peak body, is concerned about the Albanese Government’s failure to provide any investment of substance or scale for addressing suicide crisis – contradicting Labor’s claims that this is a “wellbeing budget”.
Suicide Prevention Australia CEO, Nieves Murray said, “We know that only half of those who die by suicide access mental health services the year prior to their death. While we welcome the investment in mental health, it will not address the needs of a significant proportion of those most at risk of suicide.
“Australians are struggling. We have already seen suicide rates rise in 2022 across the nation’s two largest states, Victoria (9%) and New South Wales (5%).
“The Suicide Prevention Australia Community Tracker recently revealed 70% of Australians reported experiencing elevated levels of distress in the March quarter. This also includes one-in-six Australians experiencing suicidal behaviours – and one-in-five seeking the help of a suicide prevention service.
“Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said reducing suicide rates would be a personal priority of his government at a Suicide Prevention Australia event in September 2022.
“We will analyse the budget in more depth, but it’s clear that it is a missed opportunity to prioritise suicide prevention.
“Rising rates of suicidal behaviour aligns with research on natural disasters, recessions and other crises that show suicide rates can peak two to three years after an event.
“The horse has bolted. That’s why we need an immediate investment in helping our frontline suicide prevention services carry the load right now.
“Suicide Prevention Australia cautiously welcomes the Budget’s investments in cost-of-living relief, workforce, supports for those bereaved, and priority groups such as men, First Nations peoples and veterans. These initiatives target the factors that drive people towards crisis.
“However, the current increase in suicide rates shows more and more people are already at crisis point. Unfortunately, those in crisis will be left behind by this Budget.
“We need increased investment in frontline crisis support services. We also need to implement measures to drive down suicide over the longer term. Australia must therefore prioritise a universal safety net in the form of a National Suicide Prevention Act.
“This will ensure all government decisions consider their impact on suicide risks – and plan adequately for it. This cost-effective measure can begin to be implemented now, and there is no excuse for it not to be included in tonight’s Budget.
“We can never underestimate the impact that every life lost to suicide has on family, friends, workplaces and the broader community.
“If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out for help,” said Ms Murray.
Key budget highlights:
- $556.2 million over 5 years from 2022–23 (and $36 million ongoing) for mental health and suicide prevention, including:
- Postvention: $14.4 million over two years from 2023–24 to support the continuation of postvention services nationally for people experiencing grief and distress as a result of suicide loss.
- Workforce: $91.3 million over five years from 2022–23 for additional psychology placements, and a redesign of psychology higher education pathways.
- $10.5 million in 2023–24 to the Department of Health and Aged Care to increase mental health supports for First Nations people during the period of the Voice referendum.
- $10.9 million over two years from 2023–24 to continue support for Men’s Sheds and existing national men’s health research and data collection initiatives, in line with the National Men’s Health Strategy 2020–2030.
- $64.1m to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs for additional resourcing to help eliminate the claims backlog and continue providing increased support to veterans who are having claims processed.
To get help 24/7, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467. If you or someone you know are in immediate danger, phone 000 for emergency services.
Help to report about suicide safely is available online: Go to https://mindframe.org.au/
Clare Kinsella 0427 689 689 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Amelia Hew 0410 591 134 or email@example.com
About Suicide Prevention Australia
Suicide Prevention Australia is the national peak body and we’ve been providing support for Australia’s suicide prevention sector for more than 30 years. We support and advocate for our members to drive continual improvement in suicide prevention policy, programs and services. Our reach is broad, including member organisations, governments, businesses, researchers, practitioners and those with lived experience. We are focused on an integrated approach to suicide prevention encompassing mental health, social, economic and community factors. We believe that through collaborative effort and shared purpose, we can achieve our vision of a world without suicide.