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Wrapping health and healthcare reaction to a “three star” budget

Croakey readers can download the Department of Health Budget Briefing Pack here.

This post wraps reaction to the Federal Budget from the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, Public Health Association of Australia, cohealth, Rural Doctors Association of Australia, ACOSS, Consumers Health Forum of Australia, Homelessness Australia, and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Australian Academy of Science, LGBTIQ+ Health Australia, Hepatitis Australia, White Ribbon Australia, The Parenthood, Women’s Legal Services Australia, Greenpeace, the Society of Hospital Pharmacists, and Australian Physiotherapy Association, as well as from Twitter.

At the end of the post, further detail from the Department of Health is provided on Budget measures for allied health (via the AHHA).


Three stars

Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association

The 2021 Commonwealth Budget includes substantial investments in health – around an additional $5 billion this year and in future years, acknowledging the importance of a health-led recovery for our society and economy, according to Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) Chief Executive, Alison Verhoeven.

She said:

“In 2020, Australians appreciated more than ever before why it is so important to have a well-funded health sector.

We also learned how easy it is for very negative circumstances to arise when we under-invest in essential services such as aged care and mental health care, and in the social infrastructure which allows all Australians to aspire to healthy lives.

We need to be planning for the future and investing for the challenges we know are ahead of us in the health system, such as the impact of climate change, a population that is ageing and with rising rates of chronic disease, and the equity issues which are emerging as high-cost technologies are introduced.

We also need to be supporting and building the health and aged care workforce, which has been so critical to responding well to the COVID pandemic.

Many of the health and aged care budget announcements made tonight had already been put on the table – and there’s been strong feedback from stakeholders that this is a good start, but this cannot just be a once-off cash splash before an election.

As a society, we are only as healthy as the unhealthiest amongst us – as the past 18 months have clearly demonstrated.

The $17.7 billion commitment to aged care over 5 years is about half of the investment recommended as being necessary by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Safety and Quality. It will make a difference, but attention will be required to ensure this investment makes a difference to the care of older people, not just to profit margins for private providers.

Much work is still needed to ensure aged care governance, safety and quality reforms aren’t neglected. Funding has been made available tonight to support improved regulation – this work must commence immediately.

There have been important recommendations from successive inquiries regarding the need to ensure that people experiencing mental ill-health can access care.

Of the $2.3 billion allocated to mental health funding tonight, more than half ($1.4 billion) is notably to develop a network of Commonwealth-funded mental health centres, specialising in diagnosis and treatment of conditions in adults, youth and children.

How these centres work together with Commonwealth-funded mental health programs administered by Primary Health Networks is not yet clear. It will be important to ensure that the majority of this large investment is directed at improved services and care for people with mental ill-health, and not just allocated to administration and infrastructure of new organisations.

Better support, in partnership with the states and territories, for people who have attempted suicide to continue to receive care and support once they leave hospital is a welcome initiative, with $298 million to be made available.

$65 million to boost bulk-billing rates in regional and rural areas acknowledges the poorer health outcomes experienced by people in the bush, but with more than 12,000 rural and remote GPs across Australia, this represents less than $5,500 per GP – hardly a game-changer.

There is only a minor increase in expenditure on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health programs which is disappointing given the significant disparities in health outcomes experienced.

Short term extensions to telehealth are a missed opportunity to leverage some of the innovations in virtual health care service delivery achieved during 2020. However, changes which we have lobbied for, that exempt some patient groups from requiring a pre-existing relationship with a doctor are welcomed.

Faster progress in the adoption of innovative, digital models of care, particularly in primary care, is critical to addressing health gaps for people who have difficulty accessing care because of affordability issues, and because of service availability issues, for example in rural and remote areas of Australia.

Much has been made of the $535 million to be spent on women and girls’ health and wellbeing. However this is hardly a ‘pink revolution’, averaging out at less than $15 per Australian woman per year.

Almost 80% of Australia’s health and services sector workforce are women – with a large proportion working casually or part-time. As a country we could be doing so much more to ensure women are able to participate equally in the workforce and to be economically secure.

More childcare funding is a start, but there’s nothing in this Budget for families with children needing out-of-school-hours care. Two percent home deposits and increased early withdrawal amounts from superannuation will help very few women purchase homes, or ensure sufficient super to live on in retirement.

Tonight’s Budget makes some important investments in health and aged care, and overall, gets three stars out of five from AHHA. It is pleasing to see that at least some of the lessons of the past 18 months about what is required to maintain a healthy and productive society have been heeded.”


Where is the funding for prevention?

Public Health Association of Australia

The Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) welcomed the acknowledgement of the National Preventive Health Strategy as a significant part of Australia’s national health agenda, but was disappointed not to find the necessary funding that should match the government’s commitment to the strategy.

PHAA CEO Terry Slevin commented, ‘Tonight we have seen that on one level, the government has received the message from health experts about the urgent need for greater preventive health policy in Australia, but it is yet to respond to these calls with the requisite funding.

‘The development of the near-complete National Preventive Health Strategy gives us some encouragement, but ultimately will mean nothing unless there is a genuine commitment to funnel funds into the work that will prevent disease amongst Australians in the first place.

‘The Australian Government runs the serious risk of allowing this strong and innovative strategy to stagnate, rather than meeting its full potential as a catalyst for change in the health and wellbeing of all Australians,’ he said.

‘In Australia, preventive health has been the perpetual Cinderella.  Fine words and good intentions rarely translate into meaningful long-term investment. The Morrison government stated today it is continuing its investment in preventive health and early intervention, but this budget does not deliver sufficiently on this front.

‘PHAA and other public health experts have campaigned strongly this past year during the COVID-19 pandemic to draw attention to the importance of public health and prevention, as our sector has been thrust into the spotlight and given significant responsibility in helping the government through the crisis.

‘Surely in 2021, after public health efforts and expertise have saved lives and protected our economy there are two obvious and essential courses of action: commit to a structural and sustained investment in public and preventive health, and bolster the gossamer-thin and overstretched cohort of skilled public health workforce.

‘While many Australians may think we are headed back into safety as the pandemic is hopefully brought further under control, no one in public health believes this is the last crisis we will face.

‘It is clear and remains essential that the COVID response continues to be properly resourced. But now is the time to prepare a plan and invest in our capacity to prevent future such outbreaks, or be ready to mitigate the consequences of future public health emergencies.

‘Australians should reflect on how long we should all wait for a government to address this urgent preventive health priority that will touch every life in the country, now and into the future,’ he said.

Read more on related in this article at The Guardian.


Some welcome developments

cohealth

Victorian community health service, cohealth, has recognised the Federal Government for delivering a Budget which makes some investments that will support Australia’s most vulnerable as we recover as a nation from the pandemic.

Nicole Bartholomeusz, Chief Executive of cohealth, a not-for-profit agency with more than 30 locations across Melbourne provides health and social support services to marginalised and disadvantaged Victorians.  Ms Bartholomeusz says that while the Budget has neglected to address many of the ‘upstream’ drivers of health and wellbeing, the Federal Government is making progress in supporting our nation’s recovery.

“Emerging from COVID, we are poised at a crossroad. As a country we have the choice to come back stronger, healthier, and more equitable than before.

“The Federal Government has responded to pressure to address the historic under investment in the care for older Australians which is a critical down payment towards an aged care system that treats people with respect and care.

“The $2.3b for mental health and funding for domestic violence services will hopefully be invested in local services like cohealth that have significant wait lists for mental health and family violence counselling services.  Community Health’s unique offering is to integrate funding from both the state and federal government to provide a comprehensive suite of services that wrap around and support clients’ health.

“During the pandemic, community-based organisations showed their ability to leverage existing relationships with isolated and hard-to-reach communities such as refugees and asylum seekers, the elderly, people in public housing, people experiencing homelessness and those with a history of mental illness.

“It’s time the community health model was recognised as a platform for federal investment and given the resources it needs to support its 50,000 high need clients.  The pandemic has taught us that prevention and early intervention are more cost effective to the economy. Investment in the work of community health organisation is fiscally prudent.”


Rural doctors highlight positives, and also what’s missing

Rural Doctors Association of Australia

The Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) has welcomed tonight’s Federal Budget, saying it signals recognition by the Federal Government of the need to better support the hundreds of smaller rural and remote communities across Australia – something for which RDAA has been advocating over many years.

“The additional $65.8 million in Medicare funding to increase the Rural Bulk Billing Incentive is a key element of this Budget” said RDAA President, Dr John Hall.

“Crucially, though, it is not about the money – rather, it shows that the Federal Government is recognising there should be a distinction between ‘real rural’ and remote communities (MMM 3-7 communities) and large regional cities (MMM 2 locations) when allocating measures to support rural healthcare and rural patients.

“Doctors in these smaller ‘heartland’ rural and remote communities will now be able to access a higher Medicare rebate when bulk-billing their patients. This will be better for rural and remote patients, and it will also support the viability of general practices in these small communities.

“It’s the first time in Medicare policy that there has been a distinction between large regional, rural and remote settings – which is a really important distinction, given doctors in smaller rural and remote settings have a different scope of practice and different challenges to those working in the regional centres.”

RDAA has welcomed an expansion of the now-called John Flynn Prevocational Doctor Training Program (formerly the Rural Junior Doctor Training Innovation Fund), from 110 full-time equivalent (FTE) junior doctor places in 2022 to 200 FTE places by 2025. In a welcome move, city-based junior doctors will now also be eligible to undertake a rural placement under the revised program.

“The revised program will support around 800 training rotations of junior doctors into rural general practices and rural hospitals each year, and will enable more junior doctors to experience the very rewarding career path that Rural Medicine can provide,” Dr Hall said.

“But we recognise this measure has relied on moving existing funding from the original John Flynn Placement Program…and it also falls short of the 400 FTE places that RDAA believes is ultimately required to give more junior doctors a chance to undertake some of their training in rural and remote towns.

“The number of training places will need to double in the coming 3-4 years if we are to truly address the maldistribution of doctors across Australia, so we will work with the Government to effect this.”

RDAA has also welcomed:

  • an additional $2.2 million to expand collaborative primary care models to address shortages of health professionals in MMM 3-7 communities.
  • the allocation of $29.5 million for innovative trials to support local ‘grow your own’ rural specialist trainee programs, to provide more opportunities for specialist trainees to get extended training placements in rural communities.
  • investment of $300,000 to develop a new streamlined program to support Rural Generalist GPs to maintain their skills and encourage them to practise in rural and remote communities.
  • $3.8 million to fully implement the Bonded Return of Service System to support medical students and doctors on the Bonded Medical Program (BMP).
  • $20.7 million for a one-off funding pool to support private medical diagnostic imaging providers in MMM 3-7 locations to replace older diagnostic imaging equipment, providing up to 50% of the replacement cost.
  • increased support for GPs to provide aged care services – important in rural and remote communities, given many rural doctors provide medical services to aged care facilities in their towns.
  • a range of other initiatives to support the aged care workforce – particularly to support Registered Nurses and allied health professionals who are working in aged care – including a retention bonus to encourage RNs to stay in aged care settings.
  • $49.4 million to support increased palliative care and dementia care in MMM 2-7 locations.
  • $9.6 million to attract and retain allied health professionals in rural and remote communities, including Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.
  • $2.3 billion in additional funding for mental health services – including $11 million to increase psychiatry training in regional and rural locations.
  • $1.1 billion in additional funding to support the COVID health response.

Dr Hall said RDAA was disappointed not to see additional investment in the Budget to finalise full implementation of the National Rural Generalist Pathway.

“Now is the time for the Federal Government and the Federal Health Department to turn their attention back to full implementation of the National Rural Generalist Pathway, to ensure momentum is not lost on this critical initiative to deliver more Rural Generalist doctors to the bush” he said.

He also added that, while there was no announcement on post-COVID telehealth in the Budget, RDAA will continue to work with other peak bodies and the Government to develop a long-term, sustainable telehealth model that provides a high quality and safe service to meet the needs of rural and remote patients, with an announcement anticipated in the Government’s December MYEFO statement.

“We will be going through the fine detail of tonight’s Budget over the coming days, but it is a big Budget with many elements, including some that will positively impact on health service delivery across the board – and importantly, that will also better recognise the specific needs of heartland rural and remote communities” Dr Hall said.

“We are also pleased to see the Government moving to implement some of the measures we have put forward in our RDAA Rural Medical Workforce Plan – we commend the Government for listening to, and acting on, some of our concerns and solutions.”


Some good news but too many stranded

Australian Council of Social Service

Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:

“The Budget provides much-needed funding to finally start fixing some of the gaping holes in our aged care, childcare, mental health, and domestic violence services.

The Government’s lower unemployment target is welcome and could be lowered further. The long-overdue investment in care services will generate crucial jobs, overwhelmingly for women.

While we welcome the expansion of training and local jobs programs for people who are unemployed, there are still 1.3 million people on JobSeeker & Youth Allowance payments, half of them for over a year. JobSeeker is just $44 a day, and Youth Allowance even less.

So far the government has given around $20 billion dollars in personal tax cuts to people already in paid jobs for the next financial year, plus tens of billions in business tax incentives. But not a single cent more to people living in deep poverty, including women on low incomes.

While there are some key measures for women who have secure paid work, women on low incomes have been left behind by this Budget.

We are deeply troubled about the $671 million cut in income support for newly arrived migrants, and the $200 million cut to employment services.

Overall, the Budget lifts essential services but leaves too many stranded. It does nothing to address the severe shortage of social housing or raise social security payments above the poverty line.”


Modest but welcome

Consumers Health Forum

The Budget has offered a modest but welcome response to the compelling recommendations for, transformational reform and substantial funding urged by two national inquiries into the unacceptable state of aged care and mental health in Australia, the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, said.

“The Budget has acknowledged that fundamental reform is required and that this is a long-term game.  It has promised new spending of $17.7 billion over four years on top of existing investment.  This is a down payment on the additional resourcing desperately required in terms of staffing and services.

“It is encouraging that the Health Minister has set out a detailed five year – five pillar Aged Care Reform Plan in response to the Royal Commission report.  The Government commits to “major reform” for home care, residential aged care quality and safety, residential aged care services and sustainability, workforce, and governance, but with little detail how these goals will be achieved.

“The Government has committed new funding to practical and targeted measures that should significantly improve the system and says it will fund another very welcome 80,000 new home care packages, bringing the total to 275,000 home care packages available. Remaining at home is what most people want:  it is pleasing that these are promised to be implemented in the first two years.

“Among other benefits it is aiming to increase the time nurses and carers are required to spend with residents.  The Budget allows for an additional payment of $10 per resident per day to enhance the viability and sustainability of the residential aged care sector.

“More than 33,000 new training places for personal carers, and a new Indigenous workforce and retention bonuses to keep more nurses in aged care are among other positives.

“These are all welcome answers to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety which found poor quality care and “fundamental system flaws” in the design and governance of aged care.

“On mental health and suicide prevention, the Government states it is investing in ‘landmark reforms’ in the largest investment in mental health by any Government – complemented by the investment in prevention and early intervention. The Budget will deliver a $2.3 billion National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan. . The creation of a national network including up to an initial 57 additional mental health treatment centres and satellites for adults, youth and children, through Head to Health and headspace programs is promised.

We’re told repeatedly that consumers experience disconnected services. We will be looking for how these services will integrate with existing arrangements.  We can’t afford to risk further fragmenting of care.

The critical issue for so many mental health patients is the often high out-of-pocket costs they face to get the treatment they need.  A critical test will be whether these new services overcome this barrier.

There are promising measures that if implemented well will deliver services where people are most comfortable and best supported such as the Head to Health digital platform and more localised, community-based services.  These digital services should go a long way to modernising mental health care.

“The Treasurer said tonight that the ‘Australian spirit has shone through’.  These measures will make a difference to the lives of many people. We need to see that spirit matched with ongoing and increased investment when it comes to health and wellbeing.  If COVID taught us anything it is that health is an economic investment.

“In the fight against COVID, it is welcome that the Budget allocates a further $1.9 billion for the roll out of vaccines. Australians have already received over 2.5 million doses. This Budget provides another $1.5 billion for COVID-related health services, including for testing and tracing, respiratory clinics and telehealth.

“While there is spending to continue some primary care services such as after hours and public dental, it  is disappointing that there is no additional primary care reforms on the table.

“In other measures, $250.9 million will be invested in immediate priorities for the soon-to-be finalised National Preventive Health Strategy 2021–2030, improving cancer screening for life-threatening cancers, and ongoing alcohol and drug services.

“The Budget continues reforms under the Stronger Rural Health Strategy to ensure equity of access for all Australians, with $123 million to strengthen the rural health workforce and improve services in regional Australia. It will commit $65.8 million to increase bulk billing incentive payments for doctors working in remote areas and rural towns, reducing the out-of-pocket cost for patients and improving viability of primary care services in these communities,” Ms Wells said.


Social housing ignored but some relief for homelessness sector

Homelessness Australia

Homelessness Australia has welcomed the Federal Government’s decision to scrap a planned $56.7 million cut to homelessness services but lamented another budget and another year, without Federal Government action on social housing.

Announced over the weekend and confirmed tonight, the budget includes $124.7 million which reverses the planned cut and securing services for two years.

Homelessness Australia Chair Jenny Smith says the sector is pleased the Federal Government through Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Minister for Women’s Safety Anne Ruston, and Minister for Homelessness Michael Sukkar has listened to the sector, reinstating ERO supplementation funding.

“These frontline homelessness and domestic violence services have been funded by the Federal Government for the past nine years, and we’re pleased to see that this funding is no longer at risk and will continue for at least two years,” Smith says.

“The sector can now get on with the job of supporting people who are without a home, or at risk of homelessness, without the additional worry of having to cut programs or reduce service staff.”

“The budget also included a welcome increase to the Homelessness Supplement for residential aged care providers with more than 50% of residents with a long-term history of homelessness, which increases the support provided to a vulnerable group of older Australians,” Smith says.

“We also welcome the additional investments into flexible funds for women escaping violence, a new two-year national partnership agreement with the states to provide a modest increase in funding for service responses to women experiencing sexual, family or domestic violence, and the additional small commitment to crisis accommodation.

“There is enormous unmet need for support and accommodation for women fleeing violence, and while the additional funding is a small contribution, it is nonetheless a welcome step.

“We hope future investments by the Federal Government contribute to addressing the enormous need for housing affordable to women fleeing violence,” Smith says.

The budget also provided resources to help single parents and first home buyers purchase homes by lowering deposit requirements, and an expansion the First Home Super Saver Scheme.

Smith says these budget measures will help middle income earners, but not those on low incomes who are struggling to access secure housing.

“We are disappointed that the Federal Government has again missed an important opportunity to grow the amount of social housing and to increase income support so people can afford to rent,” Smith says.

“With rents on the rise and more and more people squeezed out of the rental market, we know that homelessness in our community is increasing, and will continue to increase.

“Right now, inadequate income support and skyrocketing rentals are the biggest drivers of homelessness; and addressing these problems sit in the Federal space.

“We need the Federal Government to lead a process with the States and Territories, where they all contribute more to increase the supply of social housing, so people left behind by rising house prices, low vacancy rates, and sky-high rents have a home.”


GPs say more is needed

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has welcomed many of the budget’s primary care measures but encouraged the federal Government to go further in supporting quality GP patient services.

Tonight’s federal budget included:

  • $1.8 billion in primary healthcare funding, including support for the continued role of general practice in COVID-19 vaccinations and news that GP respiratory clinics will now be delivering the Pfizer vaccine
  • $17.7 billion investment in aged care, including $42.8 million to double the GP Aged Care Access Incentive from 1 July this year
  • $204.6 million for the continuation of telehealth in general practice including new items for smoking cessation, reproductive health and drug and alcohol treatment.
  • more than $65.8 million from 1 January 2022 to boost bulk billing rebates and provide more affordable healthcare for patients in regional, rural and remote areas

RACGP President Dr Karen Price welcomed many of tonight’s primary care budget measures but said more investment was needed for broader general practice reform.

“In December last year, Health Minister Greg Hunt promised that 2021 would be the year of the GP,” she said.

“If we want to make that a reality, we need to give general practice a much-needed shot in the arm. The $1.8 billion figure is welcome; however, it is unclear how much of this will flow through to frontline GP patient services.

“We are working closely with the Government to develop a model for meaningful investment in general practice care and this will continue. Supporting general practice will improve the health and wellbeing of patients from all walks of life and reduce the need for more expensive secondary care.

“On the aged care front, the new funding measures are welcome and overdue. General practice has been drawing attention to shortfalls in the aged care system for many years and the doubling of the incentive for GPs who provide care to people in aged care facilities is an important first step.

“I will be taking a magnifying glass to the $365.7 million allocated to improving access to primary care and other health services in residential aged care because the finer details will make all the difference.”

Dr Price also said that Australia must not take a backwards step on telehealth.

“I welcome the extension to telehealth services to the end of the year because it has been embraced by GPs and patients and proven to be a valuable complement to face-to-face care,” she said.

“The telehealth extension includes new Medicare items for reproductive health, smoking cessation, and drug and alcohol counselling.

“Helping people with alcohol and other drug concerns is core business for general practice and the new items will open up reproductive choices for women in rural and remote areas that were not previously available to them. No woman should miss out on reproductive health services and that is why the RACGP pushed so hard for these changes.

“However, some Medicare items for longer telephone consultations will be scrapped from 1 July this year, including for chronic disease management plans, health assessments for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, and some mental health items.

“I strongly believe longer telephone consultations are a vital part of the telehealth package and must be included in the extension to the end of this year.”

The RACGP President said that assisting rural and remote GPs was a high priority and that more investment was needed.

“The rural bulk billing incentives are a positive step forward, but we must use this as a launching point and go much, much further,” she said.

“I support the expansion of the allied health rural generalist pathway and establishing the John Flynn Prevocational Doctor Program to provide additional rural primary care training rotations for junior doctors is crucial – the RACGP will be keeping a close eye on that program. Any increase in funding for rural general practice needs to be part of a broader, more comprehensive, and holistic policy response.

“I also strongly back the allocation of $22.6 million to redesign the Practice Incentives Program — Indigenous Health Incentive. We will not close the gap and improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait health outcomes without measures such as this.

“Many of the measures announced tonight amount to a sold beginning for the support of vulnerable patient groups in Australia. It is very welcome after such a tough 12 months for many general practices and patients nation-wide.”


Public education suffers

Australian Education Union

The Morrison Government’s 2021-22 Federal Budget is another profound fail for public school and TAFE staff, students and parents across the nation.

“Australia’s public education system is one of the only institutions that touches the lives of Australians in every community, and as such should be a source of immense pride and celebration,” said Australian Education Union Federal President Correna Haythorpe.

“Instead, across primary, secondary and TAFE, this Federal Budget fails students in every corner of our nation.

“Since 2013, TAFE has suffered over $3 billion in funding cuts. These cuts have had a devastating impact on TAFE.

“TAFE is best positioned to deliver high quality vocational education and skills to help our nation recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, but it must be properly funded.

“The Morrison Government is delivering millions of dollars of taxpayers’ funds to poor quality private colleges and the job network at the expense of TAFE.

“If this Government was serious about funding vocational education to help people get a stable and secure job, it would rebuild with TAFE,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Australian public schools are experiencing booming enrolment growth, yet this Budget fails to deliver the capital works funding that provides modern, 21st century classrooms and facilities.

“Public schools face a $19 billion funding shortfall over the next four years. This is a direct result of the Federal Government’s failure to put public education first.

“As a result, public school staff are denied the resources they need to provide the education and support their students deserve.

“The Federal Government must understand the critical importance of funding every public school properly to ensure every child has a high quality education, regardless of their background, “Ms Haythorpe said.

“A federal budget that delivers for public education would include  a guarantee of a minimum 70 per cent of all government funding directed to the public TAFE system, a commitment to fund public schools to a minimum of 100 percent of the Schooling Resource Standard and the establishment of a capital fund for public schools to help meet rising enrolment growth and infrastructure needs.”


Mixed news for science

Australian Academy of Science

Professor John Shine, President of the Australian Academy of Science:

“The 2021–22 Federal Budget contains mixed news for science.

It is important for Australia’s future to ensure we have strong investment in basic research to be able to translate discoveries. The Budget contains no significant new funding for fundamental discovery science and no initiatives to stem the loss of university science jobs.

The Academy welcomes the commitment to develop an Australian mRNA manufacturing capability to fight COVID-19, the flu and future pandemics. The Academy is pleased the Government has heeded our advice to future-proof Australia with the development of such a capability.

Developing the capability will allow Australia to build resilience to future pandemics and potential biosecurity threats that require us to have the onshore capacity to mass produce vaccines.

The Academy’s mid-term review of the 10-year plan for astronomy published last year recommended Australia pursue realisation of the full SKA Observatory. We are pleased the Government has honoured its commitment to this by providing $387.2 million over ten years.

The Academy also welcomes Budget measures including:
– A ten-year investment to support the implementation of the Technology Investment Roadmap and Low  Emissions Technology Statements including $761.8 million over the forward estimates. These initiatives are welcome, however, remaining paramount are greater global efforts to further limit greenhouse gas emissions and Australia’s further participation in that effort.
– A range of measures to improve climate adaptation, including investments to stimulate the blue economy; support for a National Soils Strategy; support for biodiversity on agricultural lands; funding to establish an independent statutory Environment Assurance Commissioner; extension of recycling initiatives; and funding to establish the Australian Climate Service.
– $42.4 million to co-fund scholarships for women in STEM in partnership with industry;
– $10.4 million for medical research including support for more clinical trials in Australia and to introduce mitochondrial donation into research settings; and
– The patent box initiative to encourage innovation in the medical and biotech sectors.”


Childcare matters

Christine Woodrow, an Associate Professor at the Western Sydney University School of Education and Lead Researcher, Research Centre for Transforming Early Education, on the $1.7 billion package for increased childcare subsidies, which focus on low and middle-income families with more than one child:

“Whilst the increase in subsidies announced in the budget will certainly ease financial pressure on some families and will be welcomed, the budget measures for childcare ignore the critical workforce issues.

The measures announced are likely to increase demand for childcare. This will exacerbate the already severe shortage of qualified early childhood educators, impacting on the quality of care being able to be offered.

Staff turnover is high in the sector and research shows that many are planning to leave. Pay and conditions figure high in their reasons.

The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority has predicted that an extra 39,000 early childhood educators will be required by 2023. Clearly there is a missing piece in this complex policy area.”


Climate-wrecking

Greenpeace Australia Pacific

Comments from Dr Nikola Čašule, Head of Research & Investigations at Greenpeace Australia Pacific.

In this budget, the Coalition Government is putting on a show of taking action on the symptoms of climate change, without doing anything to tackle the root cause: the burning of fossil fuels.

What’s worse, it’s throwing money at fossil fuel infrastructure and false solutions like Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) that only entrench the use of coal, oil and gas.

$1.2 billion for low emissions technology innovation

At no point does this measure mention renewable energy, which is already powering swathes of the Australian economy. Instead, the Budget provides $263.7 million dollars for the false solution of CCS. The Coalition Government seems hell-bent on funding everything but proven, existing zero emissions technology like wind and solar”

Oceans Leadership Package

The biggest threat to our oceans is climate change. Without meaningful climate action to drastically reduce emissions and reach net-zero by 2035, this money is nothing but a bandaid for a bullet hole. Our oceans need strong and meaningful climate action, not token band-aid initiatives.

National Recovery and Resilience Agency & Australian Climate Service Initiative

The Federal Government is not being honest about the National Recovery and Resilience Agency. This is an agency set up to deal with the extreme weather events that climate change and the Coalition Government’s inaction on it is turbocharging every day.

The Coalition Government has consistently refused to take action to address the mining and burning of coal, oil and gas as the cause of climate change, and now Australians are paying for it in the budget.

Adaptation measures like the National Recovery and Resilience Agency and Australian Climate Service Initiative are necessary because Australians are feeling the impacts of climate change right now, which is driven by the mining and burning of coal, oil and gas. Continuing to use public money to fund gas, a polluting fossil fuel, will only make those climate impacts worse.

No amount of adaptation and resilience measures will take the place of real action on climate change, which is phasing out fossil fuels, scaling up renewable energy, and reaching net-zero emissions by 2035.

$58.6m budget allocation for “gas-fired recovery” and $173.6 million for gas infrastructure roads

Gas is an expensive, polluting fossil fuel that’s driving climate change. Spending hundreds of millions of dollars on climate adaptation measures while funding one of the worst drivers of climate change is not only dangerous, it makes no sense economically.

Investing in new gas is unlikely to pay economic dividends and so it is a waste of budget spending. Investing further in gas risks locking in huge investment losses, stranded assets and will continue to drive the climate crisis.

The budget should not be using public money to pay for climate-wrecking fossil fuel infrastructure – it should be used for funding clean and safe renewable energy instead.

The Federal Government is listening to their gas lobby mates, and committing public funds to a dangerous, polluting industry that is putting Australians at risk.

Carbon Capture and Storage

So-called Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is a fossil fuel industry PR concept that has never been proven to work anywhere at scale. The Coalition Government’s allocation of $263.7 million to fantasy CCS projects is a profound waste of public money.

We already have the solutions to tackling the climate crisis in the form of clean and safe renewable energy, backed up by battery storage. The Coalition Government should not be wasting public money on technology like CCS that doesn’t work when it could be investing in the solutions like wind and solar that are already here.

Production payment for oil refineries

The oil industry is a key driver of climate change. Rather than propping up one of the biggest drivers of climate change, the Federal Government should be investing in electric vehicle infrastructure and the electrification of our transport systems, which currently rely on oil and contribute around 19% of Australia’s domestic emissions.”


Mixed bag for LGBTIQ+ communities

LGBTIQ+ Health Australia

LGBTIQ+ Health Australia (LHA) welcomes the investments announced last night as part of the Federal Budget 2021-2022 that touch the lives of LGBTIQ+ Australians. We would like to acknowledge the specific investment into digital health for the next financial year and the extension of the National Suicide Prevention Trial which is taking place across 12 Australian regions that have high rates of suicide and where two of these sites are focused on LGBTIQ+ communities.

Nicky Bath, CEO LHA, stated, “It is always encouraging and a great relief when the Federal Government recognises and prioritises the needs of LGBTIQ+ people and communities. We know that the investment in digital health services and QLife will strengthen the service and is greatly needed”.

With cautious optimism we recognise the significant investments in generalist services across mental health and suicide prevention and the continuing need for investment in LGBTIQ+ community-controlled organisations to be able to deliver the mental health support services and suicide prevention initiatives that are in great demand.

Nicky Bath continued, “Until we have a robust and resourced LGBTIQ+ community-controlled health sector, the health disparities that we see consistently in the available data will continue, we need more that system reform. Our organisations are part of the solution to reducing our health disparities because of the work they undertake directly with individuals and communities and the capacity building and training they deliver to generalist services to be better able to safely engage with our communities. We are strong supporters of a ‘no wrong door approach’, the key to that door is investment in our organisations.”

Of great interest to LHA last night was the Federal Government’s response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and LHA looks forward to continuing to work with aged care providers to understand the diversity of the community they are serving, contributing to the development of the new Aged Care Act and ensuring that the National Aged Care Data Strategy to ensure that the Australian Bureau of Statistics Standard for Sex, Gender, Variations of Sex Characteristics and Sexual Orientation Variables, is included so that LGBTI older people can be benefit from better data collection and use of appropriate diversity identifiers.

Nicky Bath said, “We will be attending the National Aged Care Alliance meetings this week and look forward to collectively analysing all of the announcements in the budget to see where LGBTI older people benefit with our sector colleagues.”

Over the coming days, LHA will continue to review the Budget announcements and compare these to the recommendations made to the Federal Budget consultations and LHA’s 2021 Policy Priorities Platform. We will also assess the announcements against the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health, Final advice of Prime Minister’s National Suicide Prevention Adviser, House of Representatives Inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence, Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability and the Planned National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) reforms.

Nicky Bath, concluded, “In each of these key inquiries and reports, LGBTIQ+ people are identified as a priority group in need of funding and specific strategies to reduce identified health and wellbeing disparities. While we are thankful for what was announced last night, we can clearly see that we have a long way to go to ensure our health disparities are taken seriously.”


Medical research investment welcomed

Hepatitis Australia

Hepatitis Australia welcomes the Australian Government’s significant investment of $6.7 billion in medical research over the next 4 years, including $2.6 billion for the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) and $3.6 billion for the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Carrie Fowlie, Chief Executive Officer of Hepatitis Australia said “This is a critical opportunity for the Australian Government to identify viral hepatitis as a priority in the next iteration of the Australian Medical Research and Innovation priorities, including to find a cure for hepatitis B.”

“Making viral hepatitis a priority in the Medical Research Future Fund will profoundly help the Australian Government deliver on its goal of eliminating viral hepatitis as a public health concern by 2030.”

“Hepatitis C has a cure but not a vaccine, conversely hepatitis B has a vaccine but not a cure. Finding a vaccine and a cure for both hepatitis B and hepatitis C would change the world.”

“Experts anticipate a cure for hepatitis B could be developed within the next decade. This would be a life-saver for 230,000 Australians and 257 million people globally. The Western Pacific, our region, has the highest prevalence of hepatitis B in the world.”

“A cure for hepatitis B is possible with the catalytic investment that the Medical Research Future Fund can provide.”

“Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are the leading causes of liver cancer in Australia; this cancer has one of the lowest five-year survival rates. Liver cancer is one of the fastest increasing causes of cancer death in Australia,” said Carrie Fowlie.

Hepatitis Australia congratulates the Australian Government for recognising that additional efforts are required to meet the targets in the National Hepatitis B Strategy and National Hepatitis C Strategy. These have included:

  • the Ministerial Advisory Committee’s National Roundtable on Hepatitis B
  • planning in response to the Health Minister’s tremendous commitment to find 50,000 people living with hepatitis C by 2022 to achieve the treatment target.

“Viral hepatitis elimination can be Australia’s next major public and preventive health success story.”

“The Medical Research Future Fund prioritising viral hepatitis strengthens Australia’s position as global leaders and our capacity to deliver on our commitments to the community.” said Carrie Fowlie.

The National Hepatitis Infoline provides free, confidential support. Call 1800 437 222 to talk to someone in your State or Territory.


Significant investment in women’s safety

White Ribbon Australia

White Ribbon Australia says the federal budget’s $1.1 billion investment in women’s safety is the result of a political imperative build by the bravery and persistence of survivor advocates and women advocates over decades of campaigns. White Ribbon Australia welcomes the priority investment in frontline services and hopes for it to be further backed up with more investment in primary prevention measures.

Brad Chilcott, Executive Director of White Ribbon, paid tribute to the advocates and campaigners who helped make the government’s significant investment a reality.

“Brittany Higgins, Rosie Batty and hundreds of brave survivor advocates who have told their stories and moved Australia towards taking responsibility for men’s violence and abuse can be proud of the steps taken in the federal budget. It’s a significant investment that will make a difference to women and children experiencing men’s violence,” Mr Chilcott said.

“Every woman and child must have access to the services they need to find safety. Yesterday’s budget is a very positive start. It must now be followed up with comprehensive whole-of-government reforms on gender inequality and the key drivers of gendered violence.

“This means we need to invest in respectful relationships in schools, universal quality early childhood education and diverse primary prevention approaches for unique communities across Australia, recognising that one size doesn’t fit all. Men’s violence against women isn’t unique to any one community – but the solutions are.

“The structural inequities in our systems run deep, and by design they make it easy for men to perpetrate violence and hard for women to escape them. We need a whole of government approach that invests in long-term solutions as well as ensuring every woman and child who requires safety.

“White Ribbon Australia looks forward to working with governments at all levels to encourage comprehensive measures to the national summit due to be held in July.

“It’s great to see men’s violence against women at last being treated with some urgency, but it’s been an epidemic for a long time. Only changing the culture and men choosing not to use violence can end it.”


Specialist legal funding boost

Women’s Legal Services Australia

A $129 million funding injection specialised women’s legal services in the Federal Budget will support thousands of women and children to safely escape violent relationships, Women’s Legal Services Australia (WLSA) says.

WLSA is also welcoming broader women’s safety reforms as promising steps forward in the national effort to end gendered violence.

Angela Lynch, CEO of Women’s Legal Service Queensland and WLSA spokesperson, congratulated the many advocates and survivors who made this possible.

“Yesterday’s budget investment is significant and acknowledges the scale of the issue of gendered violence. It’s thanks to the tireless work of survivors and advocates that we can celebrate this step forward – it didn’t happen by accident,” Ms Lynch said.

“I’m heartened at the government’s acknowledgement of the crucial role women’s legal services play in responding to violence against women.

“For many women and children at risk the justice system and courts are the only pathway to find safety, and specialised legal support is essential to keeping them safe through that process.

“Women’s legal services also provide a range of wraparound specialised services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, including women in regional and remote areas where support is often scarce. Without that extra support like financial counselling and social work, many women feel they’re unable to leave their partner safely and keep their children safe and supported.

“Our services are so chronically under-resourced that there are so many women we haven’t been able to help. This ongoing support over four years gives us hope that more women and children will get the help they need.

“We also welcome the additional funds for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family legal services, which provide the culturally sensitive support needed to tackle violence in indigenous communities.”

However, Ms Lynch warned the $60.8 million to improve family law case management will not create a ‘safe, child-centred’ system without urgent law reform that puts safety first.

“We note the government’s focus on family law reform, but women and children will only be safe in the system if changes are made to make it the priority. For example, the assumption of shared parental responsibility, which gives violent men an incentive to litigate and puts children at risk,” says Ms Lynch.

“This dangerous presumption routinely gives violent perpetrators continued access to their victims and has already caused preventable deaths. Survivors have been clear: it must go.

“Hopefully this budget will kickstart a system-wide strategy to end violence against women. WLSA looks forward to having a seat at the table at the July National Women’s Safety Summit and seeing commitments ensure the safety of women and children in our legal and justice systems.”


For parents, it’s more headline than substance

The Parenthood (parent advocacy group with a reach of more than 68,000 parents from across Australia. https://www.theparenthood.org.au/)

Comment from Georgie Dent, Executive Director of The Parenthood:

This budget falls short of delivering the long-term, systemic change that is needed to urgently improve the safety and economic security of all women.

The $1.7 billion funding for childcare is more headline than substance.  While recognition that affordability of early education & care is a problem for families is welcome, this funding is spread out over three years and isn’t enough to deliver the essential reform needed to our early learning and care system.

Not one Australian family will receive the relief from childcare costs announced today until next year and disappointingly 750,000 families will miss out all together.

The Federal government will continue to fail women and children unless it delivers high quality early childhood education and care universally accessible to every Australian child.

Appropriate and secure funding for the workforce that delivers early education and care is vital. We urgently need the development and implementation of a National Early Childhood Education and Care Workforce Strategy.

Investing in early childhood education and care boosts educational achievement, helps increase workforce participation especially by women and gives children the best start in life.

“In addition, the failure to expand paid parental leave is a missed opportunity. Australian parents have access to the second least adequate paid parental leave scheme in the OECD and women, children and families bear the cost.


Welcome initiatives

The Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia 

The Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA) has welcomed growing focus on electronic medicines management and transitions of care for older Australians, continued focus on hospitals to support the COVID-19 vaccine program and pandemic preparedness through National Medical Stockpile investments, and nearly $900m for new and amended listings on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) as the Federal Government delivered its second ‘pandemic budget’ tonight.

In the Federal Budget 2021-22, defined by ensuring sustained economic and social recovery from the impacts of COVID-19, SHPA welcomed the Government’s record $17.7b response to the Final Report into the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, 22% of which is aimed at increasing frontline care to aged care residents.

SHPA Chief Executive Kristin Michaels says the response is an opportunity to scale and embed new clinical and service models in aged care informed by unique hospital pharmacy expertise and proven technological support, led by $45.4m announced to roll out electronic medication charts to improve the safe use of medicines.

‘This funding will support the specialised role hospital pharmacists play liaising between hospitals and residential aged care to support the safe transition of patients.

‘Wherever possible, our members are already using Interim Residential Care Medication Administration Charts for residents moving from hospitals back to aged care facilities to make sure they are able to take their new medicines and avoid readmission. We look forward to the government’s plan to implement electronic National Residential Medication Charts to help reduce the number of unnecessary medicines prescribed and dispensed per resident in aged care.

‘This investment will help address an urgent need – between 2014 and 2019 hospital admissions from aged care residents increased by 20%, while emergency department (ED) admissions increased by 27% – and we reiterate our call to embed dedicated Geriatric Medicine Pharmacists as part of increasing provision of frontline care to aged care residents, to reduce medicines misuse and medication-related hospitalisations and injuries among older Australians.’

Ms Michaels welcomed a further $510.8m for the National Partnership on the COVID-19 Response for states and territories, with hospital pharmacists an essential part of the surge workforce implementing Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine program.

‘Having supported the establishment of over 500 vaccine clinics in major hospitals from Phase 1a, hospital pharmacists have taken the lead in setting up and operating state-run high-throughput vaccination clinics across the country as the roll-out grows dramatically in scale.

‘The importance of hospital pharmacy expertise to pandemic preparedness is clear through tonight’s additional funding for the National Incident Centre and National Medical Stockpile. Our 2020 COVID-19 Preparedness survey demonstrated hospitals were not optimised to respond to the pandemic, despite their irreplaceable role in treatment and care as well as the vaccine roll-out – this funding will safeguard reliable supplies of essential PPE, pharmaceuticals and medical devices to respond swiftly to significant public health events.’

Ms Michaels says SHPA also welcomes $878.7m for new and amended listings on the PBS, and indicative PBS investment totalling approximately $43b over the next four years.

‘As custodians of 23 per cent of PBS expenditure, hospital pharmacists are essential to ensuring the safe and optimal use of the scheme, which supports patient access to lifesaving medicines.

‘We also warmly welcome the $38.3m over five years announced to expand the Women’s Leadership and Development Program. Our membership currently comprises 76% women pharmacists and technicians, while women lead 18 of SHPA’s 27 Specialty Practice Leadership Committees shaping clinical practice and achievement, and gender equity is a core value of our organisation.’


Systemic reforms still needed

The Australian Physiotherapy Association

The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) welcomes the Government’s Budget measures, including increased investment in Residential Aged Care, allied health Rural Generalist Pathways, access to primary care and mental health. This funding will deliver substantial improvements.

However, systemic reform that supports and expands the role of physiotherapy in multidisciplinary practice is key to achieving better health outcomes for all Australians.

There is a massive investment in many areas of healthcare, and the APA applauds the Morrison Government for recognising the funding needed to fill gaps and deliver better health services and a stronger health workforce.

The APA welcomes the Budget funding initiatives, in particular:

  • $3.9 billion over four years from 2021-22 to increase the amount of front line care (care minutes) delivered to 240,000 aged care residents and 67,000 who access respite services, by 1 October 2023. This will be mandated at 200 minutes per day, including 40 minutes with a registered nurse;
  • $365.7 million to improve access to primary care and other health services in residential aged care, and additional investment in digital and face-to-face assistance to make it easier to navigate the aged care system;
  • $9.6 million to expand the Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway to support more allied health professionals to train in rural and remote Australia;
  • $2.3bn will be spent on mental health in total, including a national suicide prevention office;
  • $14.2 million to list six new items on the MBS for allied health providers who participate in case conferencing.
  • The extension of telehealth funding until the end of 2021.

“Whilst we welcome this funding, it isn’t just about pumping money into the health system – it’s about redesigning it so that people can have unencumbered access to the care they need. This is a step in the right direction, but much more could have been done to enable a contemporary, seamless patient journey through reforms in primary and preventive care” says Scott Willis, National President of the APA.

The APA wants to see the massive funding announced in the Budget accompanied by systemic reforms, and notes that despite modest support for collaborative models of care it remains overwhelmingly GP focused.

We urged the Federal Government to support innovative models of care, including reform of primary care that allows patient access to Medicare-funded physiotherapy as first contact practitioners.

We also urged the Government to support the MBS Review’s Recommendations on allied health, which would deliver evidence-based savings and efficiencies into primary care.

The APA has called for support for collaborative care models, Medicare-funded first contact physio, promotion of multidisciplinary care, working to top of scope for physiotherapy, allied health and related service integration and trial opportunities for scope of practice that build skills and multidisciplinary care teams. We continue to work with Government to secure their support for these measures.


Allied Health news

Information from Commonwealth Department of Health (via AHHA on 12 May)

Please find following an update from the Commonwealth Department of Health regarding budget measures benefiting the allied health sector. Those that have the most direct impact across primary care, aged care, workforce, mental health and disability are outlined below.

Additional measures will be considered ahead of the 2021-22 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook and the Department has advised that it welcomes  input on priorities for this process.

Primary Care

MBS items for allied health case conferencing

  • $13.7 million over 4 years from 2021-22 to create new Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) items to reimburse allied health professionals for participating in multidisciplinary case conferences.
  • The new items will mirror those for other participating providers, including the scheduled fee and duration.
  • This measure will increase care coordination for patients with chronic disease and further embed our world class allied health practitioners in multidisciplinary care.

Extension of telehealth measures

  • Telehealth services have been extended until the end of 2021.
  • Telehealth has already had a far-reaching impact in maintaining and increasing access to essential allied health services.
  • The Government is continuing to work with key stakeholders to develop a permanent telehealth model and welcomes your input throughout this process.

Aged care

The Government has announced a raft of measures for the aged care sector in response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Safety and Quality, and more will follow as policy development continues.

The Australian National Aged Care Classification replacing Aged Care Funding Instrument

The Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC) will replace the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) in Residential Aged Care from October 2022.

The AN-ACC will deliver a fairer and more sustainable funding model as well as provide a clearer understanding of particular care needs – including allied health – across classes of residents.

This will include an independent assessment of a resident’s care needs by a registered health professional, including a mix of registered nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists.

New support at home program

A new support at home program will be developed in consultation with senior Australians and community stakeholders, commencing in July 2023.

The program will replace the Commonwealth Home Support Programme, Home Care Packages, Short-Term Restorative Care, and residential respite programs.

The new support at home program will better target services to senior Australians’ assessed care needs by creating a continuum of support. This will range from one-off restorative interventions and low-level support around the house, through to help with complex care needs, including people living with dementia.

Allied health services will continue to be funded under the new program.

Project to understand hospitalisation rates of aged care residents

$0.5 million in 2021-22 for a short-term data analysis and stakeholder engagement project to explore the drivers of higher hospitalisation rates for those living in residential aged care.

The project will examine models that incentivise the use of multidisciplinary teams – including allied health professionals – to reduce avoidable emergency presentations and hospital admissions.

Allied health data gap analysis project

$0.7 million in 2021-22 for an allied health data gap analysis to improve the visibility, transparency and impact of allied health services to better support an aged care workforce of the future.

Workforce

The Australian Government is investing $123.0 million over five years from 2020-21 to ensure that the health workforce is available to improve the health and wellbeing of all Australians. These measures support the delivery of health services especially in regional, rural and remote areas of Australia and will benefit communities and their residents. This investment builds on and supports implementation of the Government’s ten year Stronger Rural Health Strategy announced in the 2018-19 Budget. The reform package will help deliver more doctors, nurses and allied health workers outside of capital cities and into regional, rural and remote areas, and will help ensure equity of healthcare access for all Australians regardless of where they live.

Expansion of Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway 

$9.6 million over three years from 2021-22 to expand the Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway (AHRGP) to provide:

  • up to 90 workplace training packages to attract and retain allied health professionals, predominantly in Modified Monash (MM) 3-7 locations
  • 30 packages allocated to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations
  • 30 Allied Health Assistant packages to provide tailored practice and workforce support for allied health practitioners to establish and/or maintain viable practices in under-serviced communities.

Rural primary care model trials 

  • $2.2 million over five years from 2021-22 to fund trials of innovative, multidisciplinary primary care models to alleviate ongoing workforce shortages and improve outcomes in rural communities in MM3-7.
  • This measure builds on trials already underway in Western and Southern NSW and provides an opportunity for similar trials in other locations around Australia.

Post-graduate scholarships for allied health

  • $5.4 million over three years to fund 100 new post-graduate scholarships each year for allied health professionals with a focus on dementia qualifications. Five of these scholarships each year will be targeted for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Mental health  

The Australian Government is investing $58.8 million in initiatives to grow and upskill the mental health workforce, including:

  • $11 million to boost the psychiatrist workforce by increasing the number of training places available, including in regional and remote areas
  • $27.8 million to increase the number of nurses, psychologists and allied health practitioners working in mental health settings through 280 scholarships and 350 clinical placements
  • $3.1 million to sponsor up to 390 peer workers to undertake vocational training
  • $0.3 million to identify opportunities to boost the skills of those who work with children and families
  • $1 million to reduce the stigma associated with mental health among health practitioners, and promote mental health as a preferred career option

Curriculum development in intellectual disability health

$4.6 million over four years for curriculum development in intellectual disability health.

This measure will support further consultation on the inclusion of mandatory competencies in health care for people with intellectual disability in tertiary education health curricula, and the development of specific and specialised curricula content.


From Twitter


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Croakey will continue to cover the reaction to the Budget both here and on Twitter using the #Budget2021Health hashtag.

Join our #CroakeyLIVE discussing the health impacts of the Budget on Friday, May 14 from 1.30pm-2.30pm AEST.

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