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  • The Australian Government and all state and territory governments share responsibility for mental health policy and the provision of support services for Australians living with a mental disorder. State and territory governments are responsible for the funding and provision of state and territory public specialised mental health services and associated psychosocial support services. The Australian Government leads national mental health reform initiatives and also funds a range of services for people living with mental health difficulties.

    These provisions are coordinated and monitored through a range of initiatives, including nationally agreed strategies and plans.

    Overview

    The importance of good mental health, and its impact on Australians, have long been recognised by the Australian Government and all state and territory governments. Over the last three decades these governments have worked together, via the National Mental Health Strategy, to develop mental health programs and services to better address the mental health needs of Australians. The National Mental Health Strategy has included four 5-year National Mental Health Plans which covered the period 1993 to 2014, with the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) National Action Plan on Mental Health overlapping between 2006 and 2011.

    Recent developments

    In 2014, the Australian Government requested the National Mental Health Commission (the Commission) to undertake a wide ranging review of existing mental health programs and services across the government, non-government and private sectors. The review's report was released in June 2015 and was considered by a Mental Health Expert Reference Group established by the Australian government's Department of Health to provide advice to inform the Australian government's response to the review.

    Subsequently, a series of mental health reform activities have been initiated, including the transfer of responsibility for a range of Australian Government mental health and suicide prevention activities to the newly created Australian government's Primary Health Networks (PHNs) from 1 July 2016. The role of PHNs is to lead mental health planning and integration with states and territory, non-government organisation, NDIS providers, private sector, Indigenous, drug and alcohol and other related services and organisations. In addition, 12 PHNs will be established as suicide prevention trial sites which will operate for 3 years.

    The Fourth National Mental Health Plan expired in June 2014. Following the completion of the Commission's Review, work has been progressing on the development of a Fifth National Mental Health Plan, which is expected to be completed during 2017.

    The Independent Hospital Pricing Authority, an independent government agency established by the Australian Government as part of the National Health Reform Act 2011, is finalising the development of the Australian Mental Health Care Classification (AMHCC). The development of the AMHCC is intended to improve the clinical meaningfulness of the way that mental health care services can be classified, leading to improvements in the cost-predictiveness of care and support the implementation of new models of care.

    A staged implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) began in July 2013. People with a psychiatric disability who have significant and permanent functional impairment will be eligible to access funding through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). In addition, for people with a disability other than a psychiatric disability, funding may also be provided for mental health-related services and support if required.