Interview on Today with Deborah Knight
$1.45 billion to strengthen mental health services and support job security, measles vaccinations and Australia Day.
The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Minister for Health
Now funding for mental health services will see a major boost with the government this morning announcing a record $1.45 billion for the sector over the next three years.
Health Minister Greg Hunt joins us now. Minister, good morning to you. We know that nearly half the Australian population.
Good morning Deb.
Experience some sort of mental health issue. It is a big issue. Where exactly will this new funding go?
So this is the largest ever investment into community mental health in Australian history.
It’s $1.45 billion and it will go to community nurses, to helping elderly residents in aged care homes, to helping people with addictions, youth mental health, suicide prevention and indigenous health.
So it’s covering the whole of the nation and it’s something which is about giving people a sense of hope, a place to turn and the services that they need.
And anyone who has ever dealt with this or had a family member who has dealt with this knows that the big problem is getting access to help, the services. How will this money help to attract more professionals and keep them in the sector?
So what’s also happening here is that we’re moving to contracts which will be permanently three years. So every year a new year will be added.
What that means is that we’ll be able to attract and retain high quality professionals.
We have a fantastic mental health workforce, but by bolstering what we’re doing with mental health nurses and then changing the way the funding is paid so there’s always that three-year security.
That's a revolution in funding, which means that people can come, they can stay, they can have job security and if they’ve got that, it means that we have the ability to have the workforce, the nurses, the doctors, the counsellors that are able to provide these services wherever people need them.
Okay. Improving access will be so essential. Now Minister, in other health news there have been two more cases of measles reported this time in Sydney.
We need to come down harder don't we, on people who don't vaccinate their children?
Exactly. So we already have the No Jab No Pay at federal level and No Jab No Play at state level.
We have to keep sending the message, as we do through the great Professor Ian Frazer and others and families that have experienced terrible tragedy.
The vaccination saves lives. Vaccinations saves lives. And if there are any people who believe they’ve been exposed to these cases of measles, the health authorities are asking them to report themselves to doctors, but to please ring ahead.
And in the meantime, we’re going to drive towards that 95 per cent goal. We actually want to go higher to get as close to 100 per cent as possible for vaccination because every vaccination doesn't just protect your child, it protects your neighbour's child.
Yeah, it is so essential. And just quickly, on the issue of Australia Day, which I think most Australians are quite sick of it being politicised.
But do Greens MPs have the power to hold citizenship ceremonies on days apart from the 26th? We know the PM is forcing local councils to stick to our national day.
Look, my understanding it that there’s a general power.
But I think what’s happening here is it doesn't matter what day the Greens want to change it to, if you don't believe in the success of modern Australia as a multi-ethnic beacon to the world, then simply changing the day is just a game.
I believe the vast majority of Australians strongly support Australia Day.
It celebrates what we are as a contemporary nation and this game that’s played out every year is simply a diversion and self-serving. Australia Day is about celebrating a nation that is a multi-ethnic success, with all of the challenges of any country.
But around the world we are a global beacon and that's why people want to come here because what we have is something special. And when you look at where we are, when we see our beaches and our culture, we see a nation that is in many ways the envy of the world.
And it’s a beautiful day on the beach where you are today in Victoria too. Greg Hunt, thank you for your time this morning.
It really is. Take care.