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Greens call for Government to extend medicare funded mental health telehealth sessions past September

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 16 Sep 2020

The Greens warn that ending access to telehealth items for mental health care at the end of September will have dire consequences for Australians particularly those in Victoria, in quarantine or COVID hotspots. 
Temporary MBS telehealth items for mental health care are due to expire on 30th September, but the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the Australian Medical Association have called for telehealth to be made permanent. 
"Come the end of September people in our community are going to not only lose $300 per fortnight from Jobseeker but some vital mental health supports", Australian Greens spokesperson on Mental Health Senator Rachel Siewert said. 
Now more than ever it is essential we have a resilient and accessible mental health care system that ensures people can seek and receive the care they need, when they need it.
It fundamentally makes sense to have mental health supports available via telehealth in the midst of a pandemic.
I have written to Minister Hunt about this and I am also requesting that the Government release the final Productivity Commission report into Mental Health and the final report of the MBS Taskforce’s recommendations regarding Medicare-funded mental health care items.

It is important that any recommendations, for long-term, systemic change, and the Government’s response to these recommendations, be made public and reforms implemented.
It is unclear why the Minister is not releasing these reports. 
It is imperative that we invest in long-term policy changes that ensure Australia’s mental health care system is effective and accessible at the community and clinical levels. 
This pandemic will have long-lasting effects on the mental health of many people in our community. 
The impact of job losses, economic hardship, lock downs, daily anxiety, reduced social connectedness and long periods of uncertainty have only added to the challenges that our mental health system was experiencing before the pandemic.

Media Contact:
Lucy Cowcher-Guthrie; 0418 401 180

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