AAPi in the Media 

Posted on 10 November 2022

Our media presence continues to flourish. Today, AAPi's calls to reinstate the Medicare item numbers originally created for bushfire victims and to extend them to people impacted by the recent floods in NSW and Victoria received coverage on ABC TV, WIN News, ABC radio in the Riverina, Melbourne and also nationally.

Self-referral to psychologists was a key part of the bushfire response item numbers. This meant that people did not have to wait until a GP was available and were not required to have a diagnosed mental health condition to see a psychologist for up to 10 Medicare rebated sessions, completely separate from Better Access. It is vital for people impacted by natural disasters like floods to be able to access quality psychological care quickly, easily and affordably.

On ABC Radio, AAPi’s Tegan Carrison said that if people are unable to access mental health care when they need it, it results in an escalation of symptoms - usually "prolonged stress and anxiety that will often have a flow-on impact into every area of their life".

Speaking on ABC Radio Melbourne's Drive program, AAPi Director Carly Dober described the situation as a "cost of living crisis with people having to make a really horrific decision between food and rent or their own mental health. We don't believe people need to be making that kind of decision through no fault of their own," Carly said.

These messages were reiterated on ABC TV News and WIN TV News.

Earlier this week AAPi was included in a story on NBN TV news about a mental health crisis on the Mid-North Coast of NSW, which detailed cases of clients waiting months to see psychologists in the region.

In her comments, Executive Director Tegan Carrison said "your postcode should not dictate the health care you need" and that "no one should have to choose between paying rent, feeding their family and mental health care assistance".

This is why the AAPi is asking the government to raise the Medicare rebate to $150 so more people can access free or low-cost mental health care. This is particularly important in regional areas. The AAPi is also calling on the government to immediately announce the extension of up to 20 Medicare-subsidised psychology sessions into 2023. Given the devastating impact of COVID-19, multiple natural disasters, increasing levels of mental ill-health, and unprecedented demand, we are dismayed that cutting psychology sessions would even be considered.

We need to boost and support our regional and rural workforce by establishing government-funded placements and internships or by reimbursing education debt for those working in regional and rural areas. We must also do a better job of supporting our existing rural workforce.

Yesterday, AAPi's concerns about the lack of funding for Better Access in the recent Federal Budget were highlighted in an article in a regional South Australian newspaper. The impact of not extending the additional 10 sessions will have a devastating impact.

Earlier this month, AAPi was also featured in:

  • The Age discussing long waiting lists for mental health support. 
  • 9News story on how to handle the stress of having your data exposed in a hack.
  • The Age providing advice for pandemic recovery.