Abbott Government Cuts To Mental Health Will Hurt Victorian Mothers

Thousands of Victorian mothers battling mental illness during and after their pregnancy will miss out on vital support following a heartless funding cut by the Abbott Government.

Victoria’s Minister for Mental Health, Martin Foley today announced the Commonwealth Government would not renew funding for the National Perinatal Depression initiative beyond June 30, stripping $1.9 million from Victoria.

The initiative, which started in 2009, has successfully increased the early detection and prevention of post and antenatal depression, providing better and easier access to support and counselling.

Despite including the initiative in its budget papers, this week the Abbott Government back flipped and cut its contribution of $1.9 million. The Andrews Labor Government remains committed to its matching share.

The Liberals’ cuts jeopardise the program and will significantly compromise the support available to women and their families, threatening the long-term health and wellbeing of their children.

Figures show that one in six women experience depression, anxiety or both in the year after birth, and one in 10 during pregnancy.

The cuts threaten:

  • Treatment at Early Parenting Centres for 1,280 families with complex issues
  • 14,000 hours of screening and response services in regional and rural areas
  • 4,400 telephone counselling calls
  • Online training in perinatal mental health for 140 professionals each year

Quotes attributable to Minister for Mental Health, Martin Foley

“These cuts are heartless – we know that pregnancy and early parenting can place women at risk of mental illness.”

“I call on Tony Abbott to keep his word and reinstate funding for this initiative, which is making a real difference in the lives of Victorian mums and bubs battling mental health issues.”

“The Andrews Labor Government is committed to providing support and services to people with a mental illness and their families – that’s why our first Budget includes an increase of $117.8 million for mental health.”

“The mental health system in Victoria is under pressure because of growing demand and four years of savage cuts from the previous Liberal State Government – and this latest Abbott Government cut is another major blow.”