Disappointing budget season for mental health 

28 June 2024
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The federal and state and territory governments faced criticism from the mental health sector as they handed down their budgets for the 2024-25 financial year in May and June.

While there has been a much-needed focus on cost-of-living and affordable housing packages, the broadly modest funding for mental health is disappointing.  

Against the backdrop of the cost-of-living and housing crises, communities’ need for mental health, suicide prevention and homelessness supports is ever-growing, but investment is failing to keep pace. 

We’ve picked out some of the highlights and lowlights from the federal budget, and budgets handed down by the state governments that fund Neami services.  


  • Federal: $588.5 million over eight years to establish a new low-intensity digital mental health platform, referred to as the National Early Intervention Service. 
  • Federal: $71.7 million over four years for Primary Health Networks (PHNs) to provide wrap-around care for people with severe and/or complex needs in primary care settings. 
  • Western Australia: $260 million additional investment in mental health, including funding for emergency department initiatives and for the Mental Health Commission to support mental health, alcohol and other drug services. 
  • South Australia: $2.5 billion investment in health and hospital infrastructure, and an additional $64.4 million for measures to address ambulance ramping. 
  • South Australia: $5 million funding for youth mental health services.  
  • Queensland: overall increase in funding of $156.1 million for mental health, alcohol and other drug services. 
  • New South Wales: the $6.1 billion investment in social housing and homelessness is the largest in the state’s history. 
  • New South Wales: $111.8 million investment in mental health services that reduce long-stay hospitalisation. 


  • Federal: failure to prioritise the development of lived experience-led initiatives. 
  • Victoria: delay to the rollout of the remaining 35 Mental Health and Wellbeing Locals until 2025-26. 
  • South Australia: failure to address the gap highlighted in the unmet need analysis report released last year that revealed 19,000 South Australians aren’t getting the psychosocial support they need. 
  • New South Wales: insufficient investment to address the gap in psychosocial support; last year’s unmet need data shows 58,000 people are missing out on critical support. 
  • All: insufficient level of funding for frontline services, including psychosocial supports, to meet the scale of need in communities across Australia, or to effect meaningful system reform. 
  • All: a noticeable failure to fund long-term workforce attraction and retention initiatives, particularly for the lived experience workforce. This is a huge gap at a time when mental health services of all types are struggling to find the staff required to respond to the needs of the community.