Government announces long-term national health plan to prioritise children under 12

by Freya Lucas

August 15

Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt has placed children under 12 years of age at the centre of the Government’s new Long Term National Health Plan, hoping to create what he is terming “the world’s best mental health system – stigma-free and focused on prevention”.

 

Under the plan, which was announced by the Minister yesterday, mental health will for the first time “be rated equally alongside physical health”. 

 

Recognising that depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and psychosis are health problems to be treated just like diabetes, asthma and broken bones, the Plan charts the way forward over the next three and ten years in the key areas of mental health, primary care, hospitals, preventive health and medical research.

 

Under the plan, a 2030 mental health vision has been outlined, which includes a new strategy specifically for children under 12 years. The plan also covers a 10-year Primary Health Care Plan, a 10-year preventative health strategy, a 10-year medical research future (MRFF) investment plan, and a continued focus on the improvement of the private health insurance system. 

 

To help inform the plan, the Federal Government is commissioning a multi-year study of more than 60,000 Australians to provide the most complete picture ever of the nations physical and mental health. The Intergenerational Health and Mental Health Study will cover mental health, general health, nutrition and physical activity.

 

Children’s Mental Health

 

The plan outlines steps to be taken by the Government to build a mental health system that is integrated, simplified, trusted and comprehensive.

The new Children’s Mental Health Strategy focuses on the 0–12 age group, and aims to maintain mental wellbeing and prevent mental ill health. It will improve delivery of supports for early childhood, parenting and early education.

The strategy will provide a framework to embed protective skills in early childhood, create mentally healthy home environments, support parents, and prevent or treat early childhood trauma.

 

The expert working group developing the Strategy will be co-chaired by Professor Frank Oberklaid and Professor Christel Middeldorp, two internationally recognised leaders in child mental health.

 

Professor Oberklaid, Director of the Centre for Community Child Health at The Royal Children’s Hospital, and Professor Middeldorp, conjoint Professor of Child and Youth Psychiatry at the Child Health Research Centre and Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service, are two of Australia’s leading child mental health experts.

 

To read the announcement by the Minister, please see here

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