The Commonwealth Government’s mental health reforms

13 April 2016

In response to the National Mental Health Commission’s review of mental health programmes and services the Australian Government has introduced some changes to make it easier for people living in Australia to get help for depression, anxiety and suicide.

The mental health reform package includes:

  1. Primary Health Networks (PHNs) will be responsible for planning and commissioning local mental health services, which respond to the needs of their community. These services will be funded from a flexible funding pool.
  2. A new easy to access digital mental health gateway to direct people to the help they need.
  3. Primary mental health care programmes and services that support people with different needs from early intervention through to complex clinical care.
  4. Better support for child mental health.
  5. An aligned and fair approach to youth mental health.
  6. Connected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and social and emotional wellbeing services.
  7. A renewed approach to suicide prevention.
  8. Improving services and coordination of care for people with severe and complex mental illness.
  9. National leadership in mental health reform.

Existing Commonwealth mental health programs, including the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Programme, Partners in Recovery, Day to Day Living, Mental Health in Rural and Remote Areas, Access to Allied Psychological Services, Suicide Prevention, headspace and the Early Psychosis Programme, will be incorporated into the PHNs flexible funding pool.

There will be a period of transition, as existing programs and funding arrangements are replaced by commissioning arrangements through PHNs. The delivery of many services will be unchanged in 2016-17.

Through these reforms, the Government is trying to ensure that everyone who provides mental health supports and services – peer works, GPs, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists and non-government agencies – work well together, to make sure that people with a mental health condition can get the services that suit their needs, at the right time. Providing PHNs with the funds to create a coordinated system that’s tailored to local needs, will help to create a network of regional mental health systems that work for people closer to home, wherever they live in Australia.

More information on the implementation of the mental health reforms, and the role of Primary Health Networks is available from the Department of Health.

More information on Beyond Blue’s response to the reforms, is available at:

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