• Medicare Safety Net changes should be scrapped, not paused
  • Victoria’s 10-Year Mental Health Plan launched

Increased funding for Primary Health Networks to tackle ice addiction

The National Ice Taskforce Final Report has revealed that more than 200,000 Australians have used the drug.  In response, the Federal Government has decided to adopt the Taskforce’s 38 recommendations, which focus on improving prevention and treatment programs whilst continuing its efforts to reduce supply of the drug.

The Prime Minister announced a $300 million plan to tackle ice addiction, of which $241.5 million will go towards the 31 Primary Health Networks to improve drug treatment options and reduce the demand for ice.  The package also includes $13 million to increase the availability of treatment, $24.9 million to help families and communities respond to the ice epidemic and $18.8 million for research and the establishment of a Centre for Clinical Excellence for Emerging Drugs of Concern.

The Australian Drug Foundation has described the plan as a shift in attitude towards addressing drug addiction, which has traditionally been viewed as a law enforcement issue. 

The Government’s full response is available here.


Medicare Safety Net changes should be scrapped, not paused

The Minister for Health announced on 1 December 2015 that the Government will be pausing discussions regarding proposed changes to the Medicare Safety Net.

The Government will instead focus on Medicare and primary care reform, such as undertaking a review of Medicare compliance arrangements to ensure the rules around claiming reflect modern billing practices.

Australian Medical Association President, Professor Brian Owler, said the Medicare Safety Net changes, if passed, would have hurt vulnerable patients in the community, including cancer sufferers and people needing mental health treatments.  He suggests the changes be scrapped altogether, rather than simply put on hold.

To view the media announcement, click here.

Victoria’s 10-Year Mental Health Plan launched

The Victorian State Government has released a 10 Year Mental Health Plan (“Plan”) outlining the Government’s goals for future investment in mental health services.  The Plan will focus on suicide prevention, Aboriginal social and emotional well-being, a mental health workforce strategy and diversion of people with mental illness from the criminal justice system.  The Plan will be implemented by a taskforce and the State Government will deliver an Annual Report to Parliament to measure the progress of the goals.

The Plan can be downloaded here.