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13 May, 2021

Federal budget: what does it mean for mental health and tourism in Cairns?

HEADSPACE Cairns has welcomed mental health funding announced in the federal budget on May 11, but Skyrail cableway's general manager is disappointed it didn't promise more extended support for tour operators.

By Tanya Murphy

Headspace Cairns manager Gabrielle Gill (centre) with staff Morgan Jackson and Kadeisha Mirabito are delighted with the federal budget’s funding boost for mental health.

Mental health Services

Local youth mental health centre Headspace Cairns has welcomed the promise of $2.3 billion in mental health funding, including $298 million for suicide prevention and support, in this week’s federal budget.

Headspace Cairns manager Gabrielle Gill said as one of Australia’s leading mental health service providers she was hopeful Headspace’s 120 centres across the country, including Cairns, would be included in the funding.

“We help young people with mild to moderate mental health issues and our waiting list is huge,” she said.

“Over the last three years we’ve seen a steady increase in referrals, and with COVID-19 we had a significant increase.

“I think people are becoming more aware about mental health and are acknowledging the warning signs earlier, which shows that we’re doing a good job at reducing that stigma and young people are wanting to access services which is great.

“Extra funding would give us the ability to train up more staff and have extra clinicians to meet the current demand.”

Skyrail cableway general manager Richard Berman-Hardman had hoped for more extended help for the tourism industry in the budget

Tourism operators disappointed with budget

Skyrail cableway general manager Richard Berman-Hardman said he was disappointed this week’s federal budget did not promise more extended support for tour operators, with international borders now likely to remain closed until mid-2022.

“There were some measures taken in the budget like tax cuts, and bolstering of apprenticeship places and those sorts of things that the tourism industry will benefit from, as well as direct support for air transportation, flights and a continuation of what’s being done which is good,” he said.

“However, as a tourism operator on the ground I was expecting a more extensive package for operators themselves.

“Since JobKeeper ended, in Cairns at the moment, things are traveling along quite nicely but there will definitely be some difficult times ahead for the industry across the next 12-18 months.

“Our budget aspiration was that they’d put something in the budget to help us tread water until international borders reopen.

“What’s worse is they don’t appear to have a plan for opening international borders.

“This is a public health crisis… but it’s not socially or economically viable to keep borders shut until 2022. It’s really bad for the industry and for human beings too.”

The Budget at a Glance

Jobs and economy

  • $7.8 billion in tax cuts for low- and middle-income earners, up to $1,080 for individuals or $2,160 for dual income couples. 
  • $20.7 billion in tax relief over the forward estimates to support business investment and create jobs through extension of temporary full expensing and temporary loss carry-back. 
  • $15.2 billion over ten years to fund infrastructure commitments. 
  • Extending the HomeBuilder construction commencement period and the New Home Guarantee. 
  • Australia’s digital economy investment. 
  • $1.2 billion for aviation and tourism support for specific sectors and regions.

Essential Services

  • Extending the COVID-19 health response and COVID-19 vaccination program. 
  • $13.2 billion fully funding the NDIS. 
  • $17.7 billion aged care reforms. 
  • $2.3 billion mental health care and suicide prevention. 
  • Investing in preschools.

Women’s safety and economic security

  • Addressing violence against women and children. 
  • Ensuring Australian workplaces are free from sexual harassment. 
  • Women’s health services improvements. 
  • Strengthening women’s economic security - child care affordability, employment and financial security.

A resilient and secure Australia

  • Australians’ safety - national security and law enforcement capabilities. 
  • Agriculture support to achieve farm gate output to $100 billion by 2030.
  • energy security, affordability and reliability initiatives. 
  • Medical and biotech innovation 
  • Regional development. 
  • Natural disaster support

The underlying cash deficit in 2021‑22 is forecast to be $106.6 billion (5.0 per cent of GDP). Forward estimates: $57.0 billion deficit (2.4 per cent of GDP) in 2024‑25 and to a deficit of 1.3 per cent of GDP in medium term. Compared to the 2020‑21 Budget, the underlying cash deficit has improved by $52.7 billion in 2020-21.

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