A patchwork of good Federal budget initiatives for health, but a missed opportunity to lift people out of poverty

Released on 15th May 2024

Not-for-profit community health service, cohealth, has welcomed the investments in health, mental health and cost of living relief measures contained in the Federal Budget, but says it is disappointed that there has been no increase to paltry JobSeeker and Youth Allowance payments to lift people out of poverty. 

cohealth Chief Executive, Nicole Bartholomeusz, said that the investment in mental health services was particularly encouraging. 

“The government has recognised the need for a range of responses that meet people wherever they are on the continuum of their mental health journey, from early intervention right through to wraparound care for people with severe and complex needs. The new free mental health telehealth service is also a welcome initiative,” said Ms Bartholomeusz. 

cohealth applauded the women’s health initiatives and 29 additional Urgent Care Clinics. 

However, cohealth says that the government had again missed the opportunity to lift people on the lowest income rungs out of poverty by raising Jobseeker and Youth Allowance. 

“Addressing cost of living through energy bill relief, freezing the PBS co-payment rate and increasing Commonwealth Rent Assistance are good steps, but do not go far enough to target Australians living in abject poverty, in particular those surviving on JobSeeker and Youth Allowance.” 

“Increasing government support payments can directly improve people’s health by reducing stress, and enabling them to afford better nutrition, healthcare, and housing, all of which are the building blocks of good health,” said Ms Bartholomeusz. 

cohealth also revived its calls to increase Medicare rebates to services like theirs to enable them to provide intensive, multi-disciplinary care to people with complex health and social needs. 

“The cost of providing services to very vulnerable people in the community is significantly higher, and Medicare rebates need to reflect that,” said Ms Bartholomeusz. 

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More information: Lanie.Harris@cohealth.org.au or 0418 552 377

About cohealth: cohealth is a not-for-profit community health organisation that provides low-cost and free local health and support services including medical, dental, allied health, mental health, aged care and counselling, and many specialist health services across Melbourne’s CBD, northern and western suburbs as well as statewide.

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