By Alexandra Atanasov and Madolline Gourley
Mental health is expected to receive more than $2-billion to boost care in Tuesday’s Federal Budget annoucement.
Health professionals have welcomed the move, saying funding for the nation’s mental health system is long overdue.
President of the Australian Medical Association of Queensland, Gino Pecoraro, says funding is lacking most in Queensland.
“Our experts tell us that unfortunately Queenslanders had the lowest amount of money per capita spent on mental health, so there’s a desperate shortfall over many years,” he said.
Executive director of SANE Australia Barbara Hocking believes any new funding needs to be allocated to community support groups, not hospitals.
“You can argue we need more beds. We want to keep people healthy in the community so they don’t need those beds,” she said.
“We need to make sure we’ve got good housing, good support programs, a good understanding and attitudes towards people’s mental illness.”
Jeff Cheverton, chief executive officer for Queensland Alliance for Mental Health, agrees with Ms Hocking.
“We think the most important places to support people’s recovery is in their own homes and communities,” he said.
“The funding should be directed towards support services that help people get out of hospital quickly when they’re unwell.”
John Fox, co-ordinator of Group 61, a Brisbane-based support network devoted to mental health, says housing those with mental illness needs to be addressed.
“A good number of people who are on the streets have a mental illness, so that’s a huge need for providing accommodation,” Mr Fox said.
Following the natural disasters in Queensland, Mr Cheverton agrees housing is a top priority.
“Particularly in Queensland, in the areas affected by the natural disasters over the last summer, we have a shortage of housing,” he said.