Government boosts support for mental health and domestic violence services
2 April 2020 at 8:22 am
The prime minister has already flagged that more support will be on the way
The federal government has unveiled a $1.1 billion package to boost mental health services, domestic violence support, and emergency food relief during the coronavirus pandemic.
This package includes an initial $150 million to help people experiencing domestic, family and sexual violence during the crisis, $74 million towards mental health support, and $200 million to help charities providing food relief services.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said as the health and economic damage caused by coronavirus continued, more support would come.
“As we battle coronavirus on both the health and economic fronts with significant support packages in place and more to come, I am very aware many Australians are understandably anxious, stressed and fearful about the impacts of coronavirus and what it brings,” Morrison said.
“We are focused on saving lives and saving livelihoods and this new support package will provide much needed care and help to so many Australians facing hardship at no fault of their own.”
The headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation welcomed the support package, which includes funding for headspace’s work and study services to help young people across Australia.
CEO Jason Trethowan said the support will be particularly useful for young people impacted by mental health who’ve lost their job because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Mental health issues have already been experienced prior to COVID-19 but with the sharp rise in unemployment amongst young people, it’s absolutely critical to have online work and study supports in place not only now but for when we’re through this challenging period,” Trethowan said.
The government said Google is experiencing the highest number of searches for domestic violence help they have seen in the past five years.
With searches increasing by 75 per cent, some services are already reporting an increase in demand.
This new package will help bolster counselling support, including funding for 1800RESPECT and Mensline Australia.
Social Services Minister Anne Ruston told Sky News on Monday the funds were badly needed.
“We do see that domestic violence is something that sadly we’ll probably see a significant increase as people have to self-isolate and find themselves in confined spaces,” Ruston said.
“We are very, very aware that it is going to be a very trying time for all Australians over the coming months and whilst the government will and is doing everything it possibly can, we also are going to have to rely on the community and society to support each other through this really tough time.”