Health Minister Nicola Roxon says the Coalition’s plan to increase spending on mental health means less money from other services, where the funds will be drawn from.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott committed $1.5 billion to the under-funded sector, and the Mental Health Council of Australia says the government needs to put its policy on the table.
The council has also called on Labor to promise to implement all recommendations in its own health commission reform report.
Under a plan launched on Wednesday, Mr Abbott promised a $1.5 billion investment in mental health services if the coalition is elected to government.
That includes 60 new headspace youth mental health centres, 20 new Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centres and 800 acute and sub-acute early intervention beds, the Coalition says.
But the government doesn’t believe it.
“We know that they’re under-costed and we know that [Mr Abbott] hasn’t kept his word on other commitments,” the ABC reported Rozon as saying.
“He wants to pull out money from GP services and after-hours services that are actually designed to build a strong foundation upon which we can provide further services into the future.”
Earlier, the Mental Health Council of Australia had praised the Coalition.
“These are significant measures that are desperately needed to address the chronic underfunding and under-resourcing of mental health services across Australia,” MHCA said in a statement.
The group said it had been vocal in its disappointment with the government approach to mental health.
“The mental health sector had written to the former prime minister outlining its concerns and calling for increased investment and for equal levels of care to be provided for mental health consumers,” it said.
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) also welcomed the Coalition’s substantial funding commitment on mental health services, including much needed funding for additional acute and sub-acute mental health beds.
“In terms of improved mental health care in Australia, the AMA hopes to see further commitments that will improve patient access to care from specialist psychiatrists in community-based settings,” it said in a statement.
“More broadly, the AMA eagerly awaits the announcement of the Coalition’s policies that will improve our public hospitals, support GP-led primary care services and ensure that e-Health becomes a reality in Australia.”