By Lexy Haggard
Produced for online by Natalie O’Brien
The Federal Government has promised $350 million in this year’s budget to assist with mental health services for Australia’s veterans.
The multi-million-dollar package, confirmed by Minister for Veteran’s Affairs Dan Tehan to the ABC, will be the biggest funding investment in decades, targeting mental health conditions including post-traumatic stress syndrome, depression, and anxiety.
The funding boost will also target substance abuse and alcoholism as self-medicating techniques.
Australian Army Headquarters Staff Officer Grade One Fatalities, Lieutenant colonel Mark Mackay, says the funding initiative is a welcome improvement to this sector.
“I think it’s an overdue injection of funding into this area because it’s a relatively sensitive and sometimes complex environment,” he says.
Lt Col Mackay says mental health is particularly an issue in the defence force, as personnel are sent out on operations very different to what is normal to others in society.
He says anything we can do to mitigate the consequences of deployment will be great for both serving members and their families, as well as the wider community.
“The consequences of individuals who might come back suffering, in the short term or the longer term, doesn’t just affect the actual member involved …there is often a wider implication on families and friends,” he says.
Vision Psychology senior psychologist Matthew Ryan says any funding which can be put into this field will ultimately assist with veteran adjustment back into civilian life.
“I think money needs to be put towards helping them get back into the workforce, back into civilian life so they have some sort of transitional therapy that allows them to prepare themselves to work in a normal environment,” he says.
Mr Ryan says the government initiative will certainly better position many existing mental health services to improve their ability to make a difference for Australian soldiers.
“I would image they’re absolutely delighted the government has recognised that more money needs to be spent on vets,” he says.