Lack of funding to leave Canberrans with mental health conditions without support

11 May 2022


Joint release with the ACT Council of Social Services (ACTCOSS).


With half of the ACT’s community sector organisations expecting worsening financial situations and no federal funding for psychosocial support programs past June 2023, Canberra’s community-managed mental health sector is facing a funding cliff.


“Community sector organisations in the ACT have deep concerns about their funding sustainability,” said Bec Cody, CEO of the Mental Health Community Coalition (MHCC) ACT.


The recent Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) Community Sector Survey found that half of the ACT community sector organisations surveyed expect their finances to worsen in 2022, the highest figure of any jurisdiction in Australia and well above the 29 per cent average.


“This is particularly worrying for the community-managed mental health sector, with no commitment from the Federal Government in the last Budget to continue essential funding to psychosocial support programs after June 2023,” Ms Cody said.


“Demand for mental health services more than doubled over the last decade and is even higher now with the implications of the pandemic,” said Adam Poulter, Acting CEO of the ACT Council of Social Services (ACTCOSS).


“But funding for mental health services has not kept pace, and the share of funding to community mental health services has decreased.”


According to the Counting the Costs report commissioned by ACTCOSS, although the number of people receiving mental health services more than doubled from 2009–10 to 2018–19, the recurrent expenditure on specialised mental health services by the ACT Government increased by less than 50 per cent.


Funding for non-government organisations accounted for only 11.5 per cent of overall ACT Government spending on mental health services in 2018-19.


“This chronic under-funding of the sector by the Federal and ACT governments is severely impacting the services that community-managed mental health services can offer, at a time when the need for quality services is so high,” said Mr Poulter.


“It also has grave impacts on the sector’s workforce,” said Ms Cody.


“This funding uncertainty is a major factor in the high levels of burnout and staff attrition we are seeing. How are we meant to keep quality staff if they’re constantly overworked and don’t know if they will have a job next year?”


MHCC ACT and ACTCOSS continue to call on both the ACT Government and federal candidates to step up to support the community-managed mental health sector that supports so many thousands of Australians.


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Media contact: Angel Hellyer, Communications and Events Manager, 02 5104 7713 | Angel.Hellyer@mhccact.org.au

MHCC ACT is the peak body for community mental health services in the ACT. Find out more about MHCC ACT at www.mhccact.org.au.