Government earmarks mental health funding for Indigenous Australians and vulnerable communities

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a $48 million mental health support plan to help Australians through the coronavirus pandemic Source: Getty Images

The federal government has announced a $48 million mental health plan to support Australians through the coronavirus pandemic.

The federal government will put $48 million aside for mental health support during the coronavirus pandemic, with specific funding tagged for Indigenous Australians and vulnerable communities.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the package on Friday following national cabinet discussions. 

"There's $29.5 million for investment in outreach to vulnerable communities," Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

"In particular, the elderly, people from non-English speaking backgrounds, Indigenous Australians and those who have pre-existing mental health conditions."

Minister for Health Greg Hunt and Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled the funding on Friday.
Minister for Health Greg Hunt and Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled the funding on Friday.

National Health Commission chief executive Christine Morgan said it was important to recognise the diversity of Australia while providing different communities with tailored support and services.

"We heard very strongly about the fact that there are particularly vulnerable groups, and we need to meet the needs of those groups," she said.

"You can't deal with mental illness without looking at the context in which we all live and the social consequences."

The $48 million National Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan will fund a mix of research, data-gathering and community outreach programs.

Mr Hunt said it was crucial the government supported the mental health of Australians through such a difficult period.

“The stress of concerns about health, the loneliness of isolation, anxiety about a job, a small business set of finances, the mortgage – all of these pressures which is come with the pandemic have created specific mental health challenges," he said.

"Everyone will have seen or felt, among friends or families, the pressures that are in place. So one of the most important things is to provide mental health support.

“These are unprecedented times, anybody can feel the stress of mental health, and to say - not only is it OK not to be OK, but there are pathways to help, to let everybody know that there is help." 

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits. Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

The federal government's coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone's app store.

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