The Federal Government and Mental Health

The strategies, policies and plans currently being implemented by the Australian Government to improve the mental health of Australians inlcude:

Mental Health Advisory Panel

On 23 March 2017, the Federak Government announced that they would establish a new Primary Health Network Advisory Panel on Mental health that will work closely with the Federal Government on its plan to deliver more frontline mental health services. 

Mental Health Australia CEO, Mr Frank Quinlan, and National Mental Health Commission CEO, Dr Peggy Brown, will be the inaugral co-chairs. 

The Primary Health Network Advisory Panel on Mental Health will serve four main functions:

  • To review and provide guidance regarding the mental health plans developed by the 31 PHNs nationally;
  • To review and provide advice on the guidelines for mental health commissioning provided to the PHNs;
  • Provide advice on strategies to support the PHNs to effectively carry out their commissioning responsibilities in mental health;
  • Provide recommendations on ongoing governance and coordination of PHN’s commissioning of mental health services.
Fifth National Mental Health Plan

The Fifth National Mental Health Plan (Fifth Plan), being developed by the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC) Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Principal Committee (MHDAPC), articulates nationally agreed priority areas and actions for the next five years to achieve an integrated mental health system.

The Fifth Plan will build on the foundation established by four previous National Mental Health Plans, existing state and territory mental health and suicide prevention plans, and national health and mental health reform efforts.

A national consultation process to support the development of the Fifth Plan commenced in November 2016. You can view the consultation draft of the Fifth Plan and VICSERV’s response here.

Blueprint for mental health services

On 26 November 2015, the Turnbull Government released its response to the Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services by the National Mental Health Commission.

The response, which is available here, outlined a framework for significant system-wide reform in mental health, aiming to put the individual needs of patients at the centre of the mental health system.

The mental health reform package includes:

  • Primary Health Networks (PHNs) will plan and commission local mental health services, funded through a flexible primary mental health care funding pool
  • A new easy to access digital mental health gateway
  • Refocussing primary mental health care programmes and services to support a stepped model of care
  • Joined up support for child mental health
  • An integrated and equitable approach to youth mental health
  • Integrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and social and emotional wellbeing services
  • A renewed approach to suicide prevention
  • Improving services and coordination of care for people with severe and complex mental illness
  • National leadership in mental health reform through the Fifth National Mental Health Plan

The existing mental health programs will be incorporated under PHN management, including Access to Allied Professionals Scheme (ATAPS), Headspace, Mental Health in Rural and Remote Areas, Suicide Prevention, Early Psychosis and Mental Health Nurse Incentive Scheme (MHNIP).

To see when changes will be made, visit the Department of Health’s website here.

Mental Health Expert Reference Group

The Australian Government established a Mental Health Expert Reference Group (ERG) to provide advice to inform the response to the Review of mental health programmes and services.

Further information regarding the advice provided by the ERG.

Relevant documents and resources


PHN Mental Health Tools and Resources

PHN Mental Health Hubs

- Mental Health Guides For PHNs

Coalition Government’s Strengthen Mental Health Australia

Labor's Plan For Mental Illness And Suicide Prevention



Mental Health: A Consensus For Action - Senate Select Committee on Health’s fourth interim report