ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Joint media release: Investment in mental health services welcomed by community sector

3 February 2021

MHCC ACT and ACTCOSS joint media release.

The Mental Health Community Coalition ACT (MHCC ACT) and the ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) have welcomed today’s announcement of $15.8 million to extend funding introduced during COVID-19 for mental health programs across Canberra.

The package includes investment in community-based mental health services, funding for the Police, Ambulance and Clinician Early Response (PACER) program, and resources to continue the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Adolescent Mobile Outreach Service aimed at vulnerable young people under the age of 18.

Leith Felton-Taylor, MHCC ACT Acting CEO, said: “All the evidence shows that the mental health impact of COVID-19 is going to extend well beyond the end of the pandemic.

“While we welcome this extension of funding, we note that more needs to be injected into the NGO community mental health sector to increase capacity of existing services to meet growing demand.

“This is particularly important in the early intervention and prevention programs. Waiting lists only mean that people become more unwell and that is in no one’s best interest.

“Community-based specialist services keep people out of hospital by providing support to people in their community, allowing ongoing connection to family, friends and daily activities. Hospital admission is distressing to individuals and their families and is also costly to our budget.

“MHCC ACT supports the funding for the PACER program and the new Safe Haven Cafés. Together these programs keep people out of the Emergency Department and provide a more appropriate response when people need support for their mental health. We hope to see continued investment in the Safe Haven Café model going forward.”

Dr Emma Campbell, ACTCOSS CEO, said: “ACTCOSS has long been calling for investments to build a robust mental health sector that reflects Canberra’s diversity, prioritises family programs, provides good adolescent mental health programs and supports community-based responses to mental health needs.

“Today’s announcement is a positive step towards improving and expanding mental health support and services for Canberrans including young people.

“However, we need more funding for community-based mental health services. Community-based services are best placed to offer early support and prevent unnecessary, costly and distressing hospital admissions,” said Dr Campbell.

Today’s announcement includes:

  • $14.1 million to continue the seven-day-a-week operation of the Police, Ambulance and Clinician Early Response (PACER) program through until 2024
  • $3.156 million for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) to continue to operate the Adolescent Mobile Outreach Service
  • $655,000 to increase mental health support for young Canberrans with highly complex needs who are at risk of mental illness
  • $500,000 for the Mental Health Foundation
  • $135,000 for Menslink
  • $100,000 to continue grief counselling services during the pandemic
  • $80,000 for Mental Illness Education ACT
  • $720,000 for the Access Mental Health Service and Home Assessment Acute Response Team (HAART)
  • $120,000 to continue the community mental health and wellbeing communications campaign
  • $80,000 for the Safe Haven Café.

Find ACT Government media releases here.

MHCC ACT is the peak body representing the community managed mental health services in the ACT.

ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations.

For more information or comment, please contact:
Leith Felton-Taylor, Acting CEO, MHCC ACT, on 0429 824 118,
Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617 or 02 6202 7200.