Media Release by The Hon Julie Collins MP

More support for community mental health

Joint Media Release with:

  • David Bradbury MP, Member for Lindsay

The Gillard Government is investing an additional $269.3 million over five years in community mental health services, as part of a $2.2 billion funding package for mental health services across Australia.

Julie Collins, Parliamentary Secretary for Community Services, and David Bradbury, the Member for Lindsay, today welcomed the funding boost for community mental health services which will help ensure Australians with mental illness and their carers have access to much-needed support.

“The funding boost includes $154 million over the next five years for community organisations to employ 425 additional personal helpers and mentors to work one-on-one with people with mental illness,” Ms Collins said.

“These new workers will help an additional 3,400 people with mental illness to help them live more independent lives and reconnect with the wider community.”

Speaking at the Aftercare Personal Helpers and Mentors service in Penrith, Mr Bradbury said the new funding recognised that community mental health services like Aftercare provide practical support to people with severe mental illness.

“Personal Helpers and Mentors assist people with severe and debilitating mental illness, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, to set and achieve personal goals such as finding a job and improving relationships with family and friends.”

As part of this expansion, $50 million will be allocated to provide personal helpers and mentors to specifically help people with mental illness on, or claiming, income support or the Disability Support Pension who are also participating in employment services.

“This intensive support will help jobseekers with a mental illness in Penrith to look for work, or participate in education and training,” Mr Bradbury said.

$54.3 million for extra mental health respite services will also be provided across Australia, which will give about 1,100 families of people with a mental illness greater access to flexible respite and support services over the next five years.

“Caring for people with mental illness can be very demanding. Respite services give carers a short break, and an opportunity participate socially, for example through support groups,” Mr Bradbury said.

The Gillard Government is also investing $61 million over five years to establish 40 new Family Mental Health Support Services. These services provide a way for families to get help for their children who are suffering from, or at risk of mental illness, outside of the clinical mental health system.

These new support services will provide more than 32,000 children with, or at risk of mental illness support such as counseling, and support in their own home to help them attend school and build better relationships with family and friends.

New community mental health services will be rolled out progressively from January 2012 and be fully operational from July 2014.