ABC Adelaide: headspace Funding

20 July 2022


The Hon Emma McBride MP
Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention



SUBJECTS: Mental Health Funding, headspace services

CAROLINE WINTER, HOST: Well, there's more money that's been announced just today for an important Youth Mental Health Service, which exists across South Australia and around the country. $44 million in Federal funding will go towards Headspace services, with just under 2 million specifically for services here in South Australia. The money has been allocated in two separate streams, 'Capital Improvements', and 'Wait Time Reductions'. We're going to find out exactly what that means, where that money  will end up and where we'll see it. And to tell us more, I'm joined by Emma McBride, who's the Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. Thanks so much for joining us.


WINTER: What need is there to expand the services across the country?

MCBRIDE: We know that there is increasing demand for mental health services across Australia. And we know that particularly with the series of natural disasters and the compound impact of trauma on young people from bushfires, floods and COVID, that we have seen a surge in demand for services. So, as you mentioned, there's two streams to this funding. One is the 'demand management' to help to reduce wait times. The other is the 'capital funding' for enhancements, which will mean upgrades and equipment, relocation to larger and more suitable sites to make more therapeutic environments for young people whilst they're seeking this support.

WINTER: And I assume that you've worked with Headspace in figuring out where the most need is?

MCBRIDE: Yes, so this is a National Grants Program - and this is the fourth round of this program. And it's an annual program. And as you mentioned, in 2022 -23. There'll be a total of $44 million across Australia, which will be provided through 26 PHNs and supporting 57 Headspace services. And as you've mentioned, in South Australia, there'll be several Headspace centres, which will be beneficiaries of the capital enhancements, including in Berri, in Murray Bridge, and one who will be receiving demand management funding, which is Whyalla which is receiving just under $500,000.

WINTER: Yeah, I'd like to go into some detail in just a moment. It is $2 million out of $44 million, which sounds like a sort of drop in the ocean, really. But you know, how can I guess we justify compared to perhaps where other funding is being spent across the rest of the country, if it seems like SA didn't get quite that much?

MCBRIDE: So, as I mentioned, this is an annual grants program through the through the PHNs and in 21-22, South Australia received $4.3 million. This program is in high demand, and it has been oversubscribed. But we're working hard to make sure there's a very well thought out process to make sure that where there is need, that we are able to meet it. And that there will be successive rounds of this program, where Headspace centres in South Australia and throughout Australia will be able to benefit in the future.

WINTER: So let's take a look at where the money's being spent in SA. There are six different locations - two in the city, and four in the country. As you mentioned, Whyalla is getting some money for improvement of wait times. What will actually happen? How will that half a million be spent there?

MCBRIDE: So where this money is typically spent is in order to reduce wait times to boost the services of clinical support services that are available. So, typically, it's used to be able to employ or boost the hours available of youth workers, of Mental Health Commission's, of Dietitians, to make sure that we can reduce these wait times because we know across Australia, that young people are waiting almost sometimes two weeks to have their initial assessment, and sometimes several weeks to months before they're able to start the proper therapeutic engagement through Headspace.

WINTER: There's also a large sum of money going to Berri, as you pointed out - the capital enhancement. What does that mean? I note that it's a renovation or expansion. Will the site be moving or just be made bigger?

MCBRIDE: So, what this may mean - and depends on the Headspace centre, but it may be that they need new equipment, they need to relocate to a larger and more suitable site, they need renovations to make it a more therapeutic environment. I was just at Headspace in Batemans Bay in regional coastal New South Wales today and saw a really good example where the local Headspace Youth Reference Group had been involved in codesign in making the setting one that is really welcoming to young people and an environment where they feel comfortable and will actively go to seek the support that they need.

WINTER: There's also money going to Onkaparinga, to Marion, both in Adelaide City, and then Murray Bridge and Victor Harbor. I guess at the end of the day, this is all about young people and improving their mental health. What sort of usage of this service are you seeing at the moment and has that risen over the last couple of years - you know, as we've sort of gone through a pandemic?

MCBRIDE: It has. We know that the demand for mental health support has surged, to record levels across the country. This shadow pandemic has caused an increase in psychological distress among Australians, particularly amongst younger Australians, many of whom are experiencing mental ill health for the first time. And we know that most mental health disorders emerge in younger people before the age of 14. So, we want to make sure that this is part of also early intervention and prevention, and working with communities who have been particularly impacted by natural disasters and COVID. Some young people I spoke to this morning, were about to take their assessments for their final year 12 exams and to be doing that, you know, in the background of COVID, and the trauma that they've experienced - to know that they have a service nearby, where they might be able to now get help sooner, gave them a lot of peace of mind, not just for them, but for their families and their community.

WINTER: Well, money, very welcomed, I'm sure by all of those communities. Emma McBride, thanks so much for your time.

MCBRIDE: Thank you and thank you for your time.