The Australian Financial Reform Committee (AFRC) has recommended that the Government should not impose a financial penalty on people who take the time to provide counselling for depression and anxiety, but instead offer them a referral to a psychologist or psychiatrist who can provide treatment.
In an interim report, the AFRC said it supported the Government’s decision to reduce the tax exemption for psychological treatment from $200,000 to $150,000, but noted that it would not be enough to address the problem of people not seeking treatment because they had financial problems.
“We’re recommending that a referral should be made to a mental health professional or psychiatrist, who will provide mental health support to a client who has not received that treatment in the past six months,” said Dr. Ian Scott, the chairman of the AFCR.
“This would involve the person making an appointment with a psychologist, who would also offer counselling for a client.”
Scott also said that the tax treatment deduction should be expanded to cover all other types of mental health treatment.
“I think it’s an important step, and I think we’re doing the right thing, in terms of providing more support for people who need it,” he said.
He said the Government had made significant progress in recent years in making mental health services more accessible and affordable to those in need. “
You can’t really get that type of support from a psychologist and psychiatrists, but that’s where we’re at in the country right now.”
He said the Government had made significant progress in recent years in making mental health services more accessible and affordable to those in need.
“That’s a major part of the reason we have the mental health and substance abuse services we do,” Scott said.
A key element of the Government plan to address mental health issues is the Mental Health (Community Services) Amendment (Family and Community Services) Bill, which is now before Parliament.
The Bill proposes that all Australian families with children aged 12 and over should be able to access family and community mental health care through Family and Community Service.
The bill would also provide the Minister for the Community Services with the power to approve family and social service organisations to accept money from the Commonwealth to provide services.
The Government says the proposed changes will allow the Government to better serve families in the areas of mental illness, addiction, mental health, employment, and the family law system.
Scott said the changes to family and communal services would also help provide mental wellbeing support to Australians in the community.
“It will allow for better access to those services in the context of the need for support,” he added.
Scott also noted that mental health organisations, which are already allowed to accept Commonwealth funding, would now be able also to accept the tax deduction.
“Those organisations would be able now to be more easily able to operate in that community, because we would be making sure they are funded,” he explained.
“If you are a mental illness sufferer and you need support, that can’t be provided by the Government, you need to go and get it yourself.”
Scott said that it was important to highlight that the proposed change to the tax code did not affect people who were not currently receiving support from mental health professionals or psychiatrists.
“People who are currently receiving a referral from a professional and they do need support and support is available to them,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne.
“But we want to make sure that those people who are in need of support have the opportunity to access that support.”
Scott told ABC Victoria that the AFRRC’s report also suggested that the new tax treatment scheme for mental health treatments should be extended to all other kinds of mental healthcare services.
“When we look at this issue, and we look into what the potential impact is on the rest of the community, we should look at other ways of delivering support and we should think about ways to make those services more affordable,” he concluded.