We at AAPi have a big year ahead of us advocating for our clients, and our profession.
I would like to comment on Minister Mark Butler’s radio interview earlier this week.
We have a mental health crisis due to specific choices the Australian government has made. Minister Butler stated that there are diverse and significant long-standing problems in the mental health sector which is absolutely true. Medicare is in crisis.
Minister Butler spoke about gap fees and stated that ‘one option’ is to raise the Medicare rebate, however, stated that the Australian government is reticent to do so.
The cost of mental health services should not be shouldered solely by the individual, and cutting back on Medicare subsidisation only serves to increase the financial burden on those who are already struggling. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and it is concerning that the government is not prioritising it in the same way.
Many people who struggle with mental health issues may not have the financial means to pay for therapy out of pocket, and reducing the number of subsidised sessions only exacerbates this issue. It is essential that the government recognise the importance of mental health and invests in it accordingly. Providing access to mental health services to all citizens, regardless of their financial situation, should be a priority for any government.
The reduction in subsidised sessions also has implications for the broader community. Mental health issues can impact not just the individual but also those close to them, and untreated mental health problems can lead to further problems down the line. By cutting back on subsidisation, the government may be setting the stage for larger issues in the future, including increased strain on the healthcare system, decreased productivity, and a lower quality of life for those who struggle with mental health.
This a reminder to all that the Australian government's decision to cut the number of Medicare-subsidised psychology sessions is an incredibly short-sighted measure that fails to address the real issues of mental health care in the country. The two-tiered system of rebates and the inadequate funding for public mental health services are significant contributing factors to the lack of access to care for those in need. The reduction of sessions will only worsen the situation, leading to further financial burdens for patients and more practitioners considering leaving the profession.
It is essential for the government to act on the recommendations put forward by the Australian Association of Psychologists Inc and end the two-tiered system, increase funding, diversify pathways to general registration to encourage more workers from diverse backgrounds and work towards a comprehensive workforce strategy. Only then can we hope to see a positive transformation of mental health care in Australia. The Medicare rebate system must be challenged by us to address its limitations and ensure that all psychologists, regardless of their specialty, receive fair pay for their work- and clients receive a fair rebate for whomever they choose to support them in their time of need