Today’s announcement by the Commonwealth Government to reduce Medicare-funded mental health sessions from 20 to 10 by the end of the year is ‘disappointing’ and comes at a time when distress in our community is high.
Suicide Prevention Australia CEO, Nieves Murray said, “Turning off over one million additional Medicare-funded mental health sessions this year when people in all parts of our community are doing it tough is a bad decision.
“The decision to remove extra mental health supports at a time when interest rates are rising, housing pressure is growing and distress is high is baffling and very concerning.
“While we support any changes to improve the Better Access program it makes no sense to turn off additional supports before those changes are developed.
“We look forward to working with the Government and other stakeholders to consider any improvements but until that process takes place, we should not cut-off current supports.
Earlier today, we launched the Suicide Prevention Australia Community Tracker which found that 71% of Australians are experiencing elevated levels of distress compared to this time last year and more than one-in-three (38%) Australians say they know someone in their personal life or networks, who has died by or attempted suicide in the past 12 months – a 7% increase on August (31%).
“We acknowledge that the Better Access program needs reform, but now is not the time to be winding back much-needed support for people experiencing elevated distress.