The ACT community support sector has been given a $14 million funding boost in preparation for a surge in demand for mental health services associated with the current COVID outbreak.
An immediate $3.6 million in funding will be provided to mental health, alcohol and other drug services in Canberra, with another $10.3 million to be delivered as part of the 2021-22 ACT budget.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the past 18 months had been extremely challenging for Canberrans.
"Through this package, the ACT government will ensure Canberrans can continue to access the support they need through the current challenges and into the future," Mr Barr said.
Support services to be offered immediate funding include:
- $1 million to expand the Police, Ambulance and Clinician Emergency Response program.
- $524,000 for Directions Health Services to meet increased demand for primary care and opioid maintenance treatment.
- $300,000 for Community Options to deliver additional support for social housing clients.
- $300,000 for the Canberra Alliance for Harm Minimisation and Advocacy for additional Peer Treatment Support Workers, helping to support people with complex needs.
- $200,000 to provide more services and additional support for people affected by eating disorders.
- $160,000 for flexible alcohol and other drug services to provide additional treatment and counselling support to those with substance abuse conditions.
- $110,000 for the Interchange Health Co-op to care for some of Canberra's most vulnerable.
- $90,000 to extend services to young people suffering moderate to severe mental illness.
- $80,000 between Gugan Gulwan and Yeddung Mura to provide support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Canberrans.
- $70,000 to Mental Illness Education ACT for programs for schools, individuals, and businesses.
- $40,000 for Companion House for social support services for asylum seekers and refugees.
- $40,000 to CARE Financial Counselling to support people who have lost work.
It comes as the ACT records 16 new cases of coronavirus in the ACT, nine cases have been linked to previous cases and the rest are still under investigation.
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The 2021-22 ACT Budget will include:
- $7.5 million for a phased implementation of an integrated face-to-face and digital mental care for young people.
- $982,000 to expand the existing Needle and Syringe Program and to explore options for a medically supervised drug consumption facility.
- $851,000 for Catholic Care's Youth and Wellbeing program to provide multidisciplinary outreach service that supports young people.
- $503,000 to commence design work to deliver a new community-led alcohol and other drug and mental health treatment precinct.
- $169,000 for Parentline to provide more support for parents, through phone referrals, counselling, face-to-face sessions and regular phone 'check-ins'.
The ACT funding is in addition to the $260,000 which was announced at the end of August. As part of that program, six community organisation were provided $40,000 and $20,000 was allocated to providing resources to people who don't use social media.
The Commonwealth government announced on Monday it would provide an additional $2.5 million in funding for mental health services in the ACT.
There will be $400,000 for eating disorder services, $320,000 to headspace for youth support programs, $150,000 for Stepping Stones under 12s trauma program and $100,000 for Meridian ACT for work with members of the LGBTIQ+ community.
Mr Barr thanked federal Health Minister Greg Hunt for engaging productively with the ACT.
ACT Mental Health Minister Emma Davidson said the services chosen treat groups identified as high risk during last year's outbreak.
"This combination of short and long-term funding will help the ACT's mental health services meet our community's increased need for support as a result of this lockdown and will improve community wellbeing," Ms Davidson said.
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