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The Gillard Government is investing up to $200 million to boost mental health support for people who are homelessness or at risk of homelessness as part of the $2.2 billion mental health reform package.
Minister for Social Housing and Homelessness Mark Arbib and Member for Fremantle Melissa Parke outlined the funding during a visit to Saint Patrick's Community Support Centre in Fremantle today. "The Gillard Government understands the strong link between mental health issues and homelessness," Senator Arbib said.
"It is incredibly difficult to manage mental illness without stable housing and the necessary support to help people maintain their tenancies.
"This Budget initiative is a determined step to break the tragic cycle of homelessness and hospitalisation when it comes to people with a mental illness.
"Under the new National Partnership Agreement on Mental Health, States and Territories will be invited to bid for funding to fill major service gaps relating to in their mental health systems including homelessness and better managing the admission and discharge of people with a mental illness from hospitals.
"This funding will be directed at people leaving hospital by providing accommodation support to help people stabilise their housing. It will also help reduce visits to emergency departments and reduce hospitalisation times.
"This Budget initiative will make a real, practical difference to the lives of Australians struggling to break the cycle of homelessness and mental illness."
Ms Parke welcomed the $2.2 billion funding for mental health in last week's Budget. She said it was a major funding initiative which would improve outcomes and support for all Australians living with mental illness.
"I'm happy to be at Saint Patrick's Community Support Centre today. St Patrick's helps people who are homeless, needy and disadvantaged by providing outreach, crisis support, accommodation, health and personal care, education activities and meals," Ms Parke said.
"Our mental health package will help Western Australia to deliver better mental health support services for people who use this centre.
"The funding includes an additional 425 new community health workers, on top of the current 1,000 personal helpers and mentors, to support a further 3,400 people with severe mental illness.
"And through this Budget we will achieve complete national coverage of the headspace model assisting 72,000 young people across 90 sites.
"This complements the historic funding of almost $5 billion directed towards homelessness since 2008."
Australian Bureau of Statistics research reveals that of the half a million Australians who reported ever being homeless, more than half of those experienced a mental health problem longer than 12 months.