The Australian Greens are asking the Government for answers after it announced plans to move $58.5m mental health funding from the Better Access initiative into the Access to Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS) program, but offered no new money for either scheme in this week’s Budget.
“We know the dire need so many mental health services are experiencing and commend the fact Government’s acknowledged the problem, but simply moving money from one place to another is like robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Australian Greens Health spokesperson Rachel Siewert said today.
“Better Access delivered services through Medicare where there are standards for professional development and better quality controls for practitioners that do not apply under ATAPS,” Senator Siewert said.
“The Greens believe this could result in a significant reduction in current numbers of Occupational Therapists and Social Workers who could access funding for mental health programs. It’s an effective capping on the numbers of young people who can access these services in initiatives such as Headspace and the availability of counselling for the elderly in aged care facilities.
“The solution to this problem is a better resourced mental health sector which benefits from effective delivery of funds, rather than recklessly moving money from one group to another, spreading resources even thinner without coughing up new funding in the Budget for either program.
“We will use the Senate Estimates to follow up on these concerns and ask why this has been done before the review into the Access to Allied Psychological Services program has been finalised,” Senator Siewert concluded.