The Australian and state and territory governments have announced a number of significant measures to bolster the health care system and ensure access to health care for all Australians during the pandemic.
DVA is engaged in a whole‑of‑government response to this global healthcare crisis. There have been a range of health system measures put in place by the Government designed to protect all Australians, especially those most vulnerable.
The Government is staging its response to COVID-19 to ensure critical health services can continue to operate.
Telehealth for medical and allied health
On 29 March 2020, the Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, announced $1.1 billion to deliver increased assistance and support to people at their home during the COVID‑19 pandemic, including medical, allied health and mental health services.
This announcement included the expansion of Government‑subsidised telehealth services for all Australians, and extending eligibility to existing and new temporary Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and DVA items to allow some medical, nursing and allied health services to be delivered via videoconference or telephone attendance.
New arrangements are in place from 1 April 2020 until 30 September 2020, when they will be reviewed.
Mental health support for all Australians
There have been significant measures put in place to provide income support, business support and household assistance to support Australians through the pandemic. These measures will help to support the wellbeing of Australians, and may reduce the risk for a potential rise in anxiety and other mental health concerns as well as the risk of suicide and suicidal behaviours across the population and veteran community.
The Prime Minister’s announcement on 29 March 2020 included $74 million to support the mental health of all Australians, including veterans and their families, during the COVID‑19 pandemic. This included:
- $10 million in funding for Beyond Blue to create a dedicated coronavirus wellbeing support line. The support line will help people expressing concern due to a coronavirus diagnosis or experiencing stress or anxiety due to employment changes, business closures, financial difficulties, family pressure or other changes. Medibank has contributed $5 million to Beyond Blue to support this initiative.
- $14 million to bolster capacity of mental health support providers who have experienced a surge in call volumes including $5 million to Lifeline and $2 million to Kids Helpline.
- Bolstering existing services including digital peer support to people with urgent, severe and complex mental illness who may be experiencing additional distress at this time.
- Health workers will be able to access dedicated mental health support through digital platforms developed to provide advice, social support, assistance in managing stress and anxiety, and more in‑depth treatment without having to attend in‑person sessions.
- $10 million for the Community Visitors Scheme to support older Australians in aged care.
- $6.75 million to deliver the headspace digital work and study service, and eheadspace for younger Australians.
- For Indigenous Australians, Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia will develop culturally appropriate mental health and wellbeing resources.
- $28.3 million to continue to deliver psychosocial support to Commonwealth community mental health clients for a further 12 months. This will allow additional time for people with severe and complex mental illness to complete their applications and testing for support under the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
For more information see the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) information page.