Australian Greens spokesperson for mental health, Senator Penny Wright, has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement that it will reduce the cuts to sessions under the Better Access program for a transitional period from 1 March 2012 to 31 December 2012.
Senator Wright said the decision meant that in exceptional circumstances patients could be referred by their GP for a further six sessions of mental health treatment after they reached their 10-session cap.
“The Greens have been pushing hard for a revision to the cuts. We were so concerned about the effect of the cuts on those with serious mental health conditions that we introduced a disallowance motion into the Senate, which was to be debated later this month,” Senator Wright said.
“On the basis that these changes are made, the disallowance motion will no longer be necessary.
“I am heartened that Minister Butler has heeded concerns expressed by the Greens, many consumers and health professionals and will reinstate a further six sessions where required by exceptional circumstances.
“The Greens were always concerned that the Better Access cuts left some people with serious conditions without adequate treatment.
“This revision will offer a safety net until the end of the year while other programs like ATAPs and youth mental health services are further developed to meet the need out there.”