This content relates to a former minister

Doorstop in Melbourne

Transcript of Minister for Health, Greg Hunt's doorstop in Melbourne regarding $1.45 billion to strengthen mental health services and support job security.

The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Former Minister for Health and Aged Care

Media event date:
Date published:
Media type:
General public


It’s great to be here at My Place in Pakenham with Jason Wood, the Member for Latrobe, Graeme Moore, the mayor of Cardinia, with Lucy Brogden, the chair of the National Mental Health Commission, Kiera Mansfield from the Primary Health Network, and especially all of our amazing young people such as Amelia and David, who are making such progress and contributing so much.

We know that mental health is a national challenge; 560,000 young people will face some form of mental health challenge this year, 4 million Australians will have some form of mental health challenge this year.

It’s normal, it’s part of the human condition, it’s part of our experience. Virtually every family, certainly every workplace, certainly every school in some way, shape or form is touched by mental health either within or in our connections.

And so, this is something that is a deep powerful modern challenge. It’s a personal passion and it’s a government priority.

Across the nation, we are investing over $4.7 billion a year in mental health. And that’s in hospitals, in medical services through doctors, that’s in terms of medicines through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. But one of the most important areas for support is youth mental health and community mental health.

In youth mental health, we’ve recently had a series of very important bricks added to the wall. In particular, we’ve been able to support beyondblue with their Be You program, for almost $100 million; youth psychosis, through the headspace, for $100 million; and another 100 for additional headspace services.

Very importantly we’ve contributed $110 million to eating disorders, something which has in many ways been a hidden part of the mental health challenge.

We all know people who have eating disorders. It particularly strikes young people, it particularly strikes young women. And it has the highest mortality rate of any of the mental health challenges.

And then community mental health is about delivering people outcomes in their own communities. My Place is an example of this.

It’s helping to run the Bounce Back! Program. And the South East Melbourne PHN and Cardinia Shire are cooperating, they’re delivering outcomes to these magnificent young people and giving them hope and giving them support and giving them a pathway to a really bright future, so we can make massive differences.

Against that background, I am delighted to announce that the Australian government will make the largest ever investment in community mental health services, with a $1.45 billion investment over three years.

This investment includes $600 million for youth mental health services; $400 million for those with addictions, with homelessness challenges, those who are otherwise likely to fall through the cracks; $177 million for something that’s very, very close to my heart, which is mental health nurses; and then funding of over $70 million in particular for Indigenous programs, for suicide prevention programs and for working with our elderly. So, all of these different areas are being supported.

Community mental health is about giving people the access to the services they need in their own community.

The other thing here that’s very, very important is that we are changing the funding model. Instead of a contract which comes to an end, the uncertainty as to whether or not that will be renewed, we’re moving to- on the advice of Lucy Brogden and the primary health networks – a rolling contracting period.

And that means at the end of every year, we’ll contract for the third year out, so people will always have three years of certainty.

That’s a radical change in the funding model. Instead of one block and then 12 months of uncertainty, now we’ll move to long-term funding and that means will have better chance of attracting and better chance of retaining the top quality people such as Emma that we’ve met here today.

That’s what we need – to have high quality people working with beautiful young people, giving them the support; and that means more lives will be saved, more lives will be protected, and young people and people of all ages will have a better mental health future.


Of this money, how much of the money is new money rather than confirming existing money for more years to come?


Well, this is new funding. It represents money which had not previously been allocated but now being allocated.

It also represents a significant increase over what was previously there in the previous three-year period. And so, it’s not just nearly $1.5 billion, but it’s the promise of certainty going forwards which radically changes the ability of organisations such as My Place to contract, to attract, and to retain staff.


How will it change the experience of mental health patients, do you think?


Well, the BounceBack! Program, which is being conducted here by the Primary Health Network and Cardinia Shire is, for example, about giving young people the support that they need, where they need it.

This amazing group of young Australians who are here in Pakenham, they’re here and dealing with the day-to-day challenges that people face, and they’re able to access this support because of the Primary Health Network funding; and that means they can deal with a challenge early on and if you can deal with it early on, you can avoid the life-long issues that come with mental health, of anxiety or depression or eating disorders that can often take a route before somebody is 20 years of age but can last for 20 years, and if we can deal with it early, we can avoid those life-long complications.


How fair is it to say that mental health has been previously neglected by Coalition and Labor governments?


I think over the last 20 years the country has been on a journey. In many ways, Jeff Kennett has played an extraordinary role in helping to work on the de-stigmatisation. Lucy and John Brogden have been a huge part of it.

So many people have been involved in that transition, and for myself and Scott Morrison and Jason Wood, it’s our time and our watch and our responsibility.

So we need two things: to reduce the stigma which is happening.

We’re normalising mental health. So in the same way that we go to the doctor for the flu; we go to the doctor for an injury; we go to the doctor if we are feeling ill, every Australian should feel that they can talk about their challenge and see the doctor when they need to.

We also have to have the services. So those two things. Confidence and services are the way forward, and what we’re doing is expanding those services and building on that confidence of the last two decades.


The Prime Minster, of course, is visiting Pacific leaders. Do you think the government’s handling of the Neil Prakash situation will overshadow what’s happening there with the Prime Minister?


No. We make no apologies for dealing relentlessly and with absolute vigour with anybody who threatens the safety of Australian citizens and citizens globally.

This is our time, our watch, our responsibility and I- we have Jason Wood here, who worked in counterterrorism for the Victorian Police and he has seen the frontline; he has seen the threats. And our task, first and foremost, is to protect Australian citizens and that’s what we’re doing.


Will the Prime Minister be raising the issue with the Fijian government, Fijian officials?


I’ll leave that one to the Prime Minister.


Obviously, we’ve seen some interesting scenes in the UK Parliament this morning, earlier this morning. How damaging do you think the instability in the UK is to Australia considering the need for Australia to have ties with both the UK and also the EU?


We’re prepared for all options. Whether there’s a deal or no deal, we’ll continue to trade with the EU; we’ll continue to trade with the UK; and we’re focused on protecting our exporters, whether it’s our exporters of services, whether it’s those who are manufacturing, those who are making food products, those who are making wine.

We’re prepared for all options. We’re working with the EU; we’re working with the UK; and Australians will continue to trade, we believe, on an uninterrupted basis with the EU and the UK.


Just finally on a local issue. You’ve seen concerns about Bill Shorten and his announcement in relation to Peninsula Health?


Yes. It’s disappointing and curious that they’ve excluded cancer services.

This is a well-known project. We’ve been working with Peninsula Health and Monash and we’re making very, very good progress.

I’m therefore surprised and disappointed that cancer services for what is the oldest demographic in Victoria have been excluded from what’s obviously a discount option proposal that Mr Shorten’s put forward.

Okay? Thank you. Now I’m delighted to introduce Jason Wood and then Kiera and Lucy.


Thanks very much. It’s great to be here today and Minister, you’re so dedicated to mental health and prevention, in particular of youth suicide. And I’d like to also thank Graeme Moore, the council of Cardinia for having us here.

My Place and Emma, thank you for having us here today and the young people, we’re here because of you. We just want to give you the best opportunities of life and take those opportunities.

And sometimes life is tough and that’s why we need good people to help with great services and this announcement’s going to do great things, not only for young people in Pakenham, but also when you go down to Berwick and Beaconsfield.

Now, this is an issue too which affects not only young and old, but also doesn’t matter what profession you’re in.

In a few hours time, myself and the Minister will be meeting representatives from the Victorian Police Association and sadly as a former – or these days we call them veteran police officers – a number of colleagues have taken their own lives and it’s really tough for them and they need all the support they get.

So not only this announcement will help young, old, but also our emergency service workers, and they have that awful tough job too which I’ve done in the past, is go and investigate suicides; to give those death messages.

And it is not a nice task to do and the sad reality is some people think they’re escaping from something and helping people out by taking their lives.

In actual fact they’re just leaving a trail of misery and those unanswered questions. So the more early intervention we have, and this is what I love about this announcement, and over the years we’ve had some really bad news here in La Trobe.

In actual fact, we had to open up a headspace in Narre Warren, we also even had to put up suicide prevention barriers along the train line – that’s how bad it got in this electorate, it even featured on Four Corners.

So I’m absolutely rapt we’re putting money into mental health, particularly for young people and we’re very proud to be here today. And Emma, I look forward to working with you and the council in the future because your need has grown here, and see what we can do in the future. So thank you very much for hosting us today.


Thank you. This is a very exciting day, this commitment to funding on a three year basis for the PHN’s across Australia.

The PHNs are the backbone of a solid community health and primary health network model. And it’s really important for our young people, our elderly that they can get help and support in the community.

Not everyone needs to go to hospital, but we can be part of a recovery journey and importantly, a prevention journey when we build strong communities.

And through programs like My Place here in Pakenham, right across the country whether it’s in Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland, communities often know the answers.

They genuinely know what their community needs to stay strong and to help those who are struggling.

So today is about giving certainly to those communities and helping them on a prevention journey and a recovery journey. And it’s a really strong sign that governments do listen to communities, so it’s an exciting day. Thank you.


Can I just briefly ask Lucy before I let you go? $1.45 billion, it’s a lot of money. But considering the scale of the problem, is it anywhere near enough?


It’s a lot of money and it’s going to make a lot of positive change for people. I think it’s always churlish to ask for more. But this money is going to make life saving and life changing difference and that’s something that we need to celebrate and recognise.


Hi, it’s lovely to be here this morning and thank you to Mr Hunt for the announcement, for the extended funding for BounceBack!

It’s great to be able to launch the service here in a local facility. Both Emma and Pam and I met over two years ago to have a conversation about bringing services for young people to this region.

And it’s through their advocacy, dedication and commitment that we’re finally able to have this conversation and launch this program here today.

We’d also like to thank our partners who are each- and obviously Cardinia Shire Council, in bringing this service to the young people this region.

We will be open for referrals as we have mentioned today and of course, everything we do, in conjunction with our partners, has an evidence base behind it.

So the guidance and support of Orygen Youth Mental Health in designing this service is really important to us and we make sure that we maintain fidelity to the model that we’ve co-designed.

One thing I’d like to mention I think in particular is when we started this journey with Emma and Pam and the young people in this region two years ago, a young lady called Lucy, we asked her what her experience had been like to date.

And she said – I’m either too unwell or I’m never unwell enough to get the service and the help that I need.

And so we took that as our champion, if you like, for the duration of our co-design period and we built this service with her in mind.

So we hope that we’ve made and created a seamless service for all of the young people and to echo the sentiments of the previous speakers, that it serves them well into their future.


What does the extra money mean for your organisation and particularly, I suppose, the greater certainty around money that may flow in the future?


I think in particular what it does, is the challenge of retaining a workforce and particularly when you’re looking at more remote and rural areas in particular, to be able to offer a three year contract to attract the type of workforce that we need, to make sure this service delivers everything that the community deserves.

So having certainty of funding at this particular time, would make a great difference to making sure the services that we’ve implemented can be sustainable and ongoing.


And I’ll just get you to quickly say your name and title, just on the tape.


Kiera Mansfield, General Manager, South Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Work.

Help us improve

If you would like a response please use the enquiries form instead.