Ahead of the budget, on Saturday, March 26, the Morrison Government announced a $52.3 million investment to help ensure suicide prevention service Lifeline can respond to the sustained increased needs of the community for the next four years. The core annual funding for the free-to-use service had been $15.5 million.
“This Federal Budget prioritises the mental health needs of all Australians and acknowledges the strength of Lifeline in empowering communities to be suicide-safe through connection, compassion and hope,” says Lifeline Chief Executive Officer Colin Seery.
“It is absolutely essential that we ensure our services have the resources they need to help all Australians who need us. In ensuring that, this contribution from the Morrison Government will save lives.”
Seery says that call and digital contact volumes remained well above pre-pandemic levels and that factors contributing to this include the government’s efforts to reduce the stigma of mental ill-health and suicidality and greater awareness of and improved accessibility of services.
“Calls to Lifeline reached historic highs during the peaks of the pandemic and continue to remain high compared to where we were two years ago. But that doesn’t just mean that more people are finding themselves in crisis, it also means that more people are reaching out for and getting the help they need when they need it, and that’s the crucial first step that can make all the difference.”
Lifeline now offers around-the-clock crisis support via phone, text and webchat. Seery says the funding means the team can continue to build on the help they offer, as well as continue to be innovative, like with their roll-out of remote working solutions so more people around Australia can volunteer for Lifeline from their homes.
The government also announced $58 million in funding for endometriosis suffers.
The funding will go towards establishing specialised endometriosis pain clinics across the country, improving diagnosis times, offering financial support through Medicare-funded fertility scans, creating an Endometriosis Management Plan, research and trial work, and an awareness campaign.
“I have seen firsthand with Jen [Morrison just how debilitating endometriosis can be for women, the mental and physical toll it takes, and it’s so important we continue to fund new services and treatments for the hundreds of thousands of women who suffer from endometriosis,” Mr Morrison said.
Australians living with chronic conditions will receive cost cuts for essential medicines. The $2.4 billion will be targeted to new and amended medicine listings on the PBS to reduce out-of-pocket costs for treatments including cystic fibrosis, spinal muscular atrophy and bowel cancer.
Read all of our budget coverage, here.
If you or anyone you know is struggling and needs support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, both of which provide trained counsellors you can talk with 24/7. You can also speak with someone confidentially at Headspace by calling 1800 650 890 or chat online here. If you are in immediate danger, call 000.