The Australian Government continues to fund, reform and support Australia’s health system, while delivering COVID-19 related measures and sustaining a high-quality health system during this pandemic. Our record levels of funding in health – which have increased every year since forming government in 2013 – continue to guarantee essential health services that Australians rely on.
Our Government’s 2021/22 Federal Budget provides record funding for Medicare, mental health, aged care, and hospitals. In 2021/22, SA’s hospitals and health system benefit from $1.6 billion in Federal funding. Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, total funding to health increased from $61 billion to more than $81 billion, and spending on public hospital services increased by 76%.
The following initiatives demonstrate how we are continuing to make improvements to health care and provide essential medical services.
Coronavirus and Primary Care
The TGA has granted provisional approval for the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine, for use as a primary vaccination for Australians aged 18 years and older. The first shipments of the 51 million arrived recently. Appointments for vaccination with the Novavax vaccine have begun in SA. For more information and to book, click here.
The approval of Novavax offers Australians a protein subunit vaccine, administered in two doses – each dose given three weeks apart. ATAGI has taken the position that Novavax may be given as a booster if an MRNA vaccine is unsuitable for Australians, aged 18+ years old. For more information on Novavax, click here.
COVID-19 vaccinations continue to protect Australians
As of March 4th, more than 54 million COVID-19 vaccines have now been administered across Australia, as our country ranks one of the most highly vaccinated nations in the world, with more than 10 million Aussies having already received their booster shot.
Antiviral COVID-19 treatments secured
The TGA has also provisionally approved two anti-viral COVID-19 treatments, the first oral treatments for COVID-19 in Australia, Lagevrio® (molnupiravir) and Paxlovid® (nirmatrelvir + ritonavir).
These treatments have been found to effectively treat people experiencing mild to moderate COVID-19 with a high risk of progressing to severe disease – reducing hospital admissions and potential deaths. 300,000 treatment courses of Lagevrio® and 500,000 courses of Paxlovid® have been secured for use throughout 2022. For more information, click here.
Investment in continued COVID-19 response
The Morrison Government announced a further $540 million in December to continue and expand Australia’s COVID-19 response, including funding for Aged Care Preparedness and pathology testing. For more information, click here.
Permanent telehealth to improve primary care
With an investment of $308.6 million, Telehealth is now a permanent feature of Australia’s healthcare system – ensuring flexible access to health care services for Australians into the future, and reducing risks for healthcare practitioners. For more information, click here.
Funding to boost participation in cancer screenings
More than $10 million is being invested across eight programmes to support the early detection of breast, bowel and cervical cancer through screenings. One such funded project will be led by the University of South Australia to help define screening gaps in priority groups. For more information, click here.
$14.9 million to boost efficiency of organ waitlisting and matching
OrganMatch, Australia’s organ waitlisting and matching system, is to be strengthened through $14.9 million as they provide real time access to clinicians for the sharing of critical information across tissue-typing labs, DonateLife agencies and transplant units. This investment aims to improve outcomes for 1,850 Australians in need of life-saving transplants. For more information, click here.
New Medicines on the PBS
Since the Federal Liberal Government formed in 2013, more than 2,800 medicine listings have been added to the PBS, including approximately 860 new medicines since 2019.
New PBS additions include, among others:
- Uvadex® (methoxsalen) for Australians with cGVHD – a complication that can occur when patients undergoing cancer treatment receive transplanted stem cells from a donor – previously costing more than $9,200 per course of treatment.
- Mylotarg® (gemtuzumab ozogamicin) for Australians suffering from acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) – diagnosed in approximately 900 Australians annually – who without PBS subsidy may pay around $18,000 per course of treatment.
- Ultomiris® (ravulizumab) as a treatment for Australians diagnosed with PNH – a condition that produces defective blood cells – who would have to pay approximately $550,000 per year for treatment.
- Rinvoq® (upadacitinib) for Australians living with atopic dermatitis (eczema), a chronic skin condition – previously costing more than $27,000 per year for treatment;
- Calquence® for Australians – approximately 350 annually – suffering from a relapsed and/or refractory mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, who without the PBS subsidy would pay more than $8,200 per script; and,
- Braftovi® (encorafenib) as a treatment for Australians – approximately 340 annually – diagnosed with BRAF V600 variant metastatic colorectal cancer, who may have previously paid in excess of $33,600 per course of treatment.
For information on these PBS listings, click the relevant medication.
Research for Medical Breakthroughs
Medical research is another of the 4 pillars of our Government’s Long Term National Health Plan – empowering our own world-leading researchers and institutions to uncover solutions for some of our greatest health challenges.
In late 2021 and early 2022, investment in medical research has included:
- $472 million towards Australia’s health and medical research future, including major funding for research on osteoarthiritis, clinical trials involving immune therapy for type 1 diabetes, coordinated best practice interventions for end-of-life care, and more.
- $239 million for Australian health and medical researchers, including funding for one research project conducted by the University of South Australia to advance research in chemotherapy.
- $276 million to back Australia’s brightest health scientists, supporting projects through the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) to benefit health care consumers.
- $63.4 million towards research for rare cancers and diseases, including four grants in SA, for projects investigating Hereditary Pancreatitis and Autoselt Transplant Trials, Antl-MRSA PhAge Cocktail treatments via Acoustic Enhanced Nebulisers, and more.
- An investment of up to $24 million to help investigate improvements for acute care systems and solutions to reduce ED waiting times.
- $21.8 million to transform research into better patient care, with grants to support projects that target a range of health issues including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Mental Health and Families
Amidst ongoing challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions, the Morrison Government has supported Australians of all ages to access the mental health care they need. Through the 2021/22 Budget, 20 mental health sessions per person continue to be subsidised through Medicare – up from 10 in 2020/21.
Other recent announcements in the area of mental health and families include:
- Suicide prevention grants have been doubled, with a focus on at-risk groups and $144 million being granted in total across the nation – while Lifeline’s crisis text service is extending its services to 24/7, backed by $1.5 million in federal funding.
- A world-leading National Eating Disorder Centre will receive $13 million to be established – with the goal of transforming diagnostic and treatment strategies for Australians suffering from eating disorders.
- The world’s first children’s mental health and wellbeing strategy has been conceived and launched in Australia.
- $44 million in grants has been released to reduce wait times for young people accessing headspace mental health services.
- Additional funding of $7.8 million has been announced to support new and expectant parents experiencing perinatal anxiety & depression, and support has been extended for families following infant loss.
Successful RHMT program extended
The Federal Liberal Government continues to invest in the successful Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training (RHMT) program, which provides trainee doctors and health professionals high-quality practical experience in rural settings, and in turn facilitates increased access to health care for local patients.
$60 million announced for rural SA health training
$60 million in federal funding has been announced for RHMT in SA, supporting the medical students of 3 SA universities – Flinders University, The University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia – to engage in high quality rural health training, while also improving the recruitment and retention of GPs in rural areas. For more information, click here.
Recently, the funding agreements with the 21 universities participating in the RHMT were granted a three-year extension to proceed, enabling more medicos to provide their services in the bush and support rural health. For more information, click here.
Outstanding HELP loans reduced for remote doctors and nurse practitioners
Eligible rural, remote, and very remote doctors and nurse practitioners may now qualify for a reduction in their outstanding HELP loans, indexed according to the period of time they live and complete eligible work in a qualifying area – boosting the attractiveness of work in these areas and supporting our country medical workforce. For more information, click here.
502,413 Australians supported by NDIS
As of January, 502,413 Australians and their families are receiving benefits through the NDIS, giving more Australians the support they need to overcome challenges imposed by their disability, achieve their goals and meaningfully participate in society.
Helping more young Australians with a disability live in their accommodation of choice
In December, an additional $35 million was announced as a part of the Morrison Government’s commitment to reduce the number of younger people in residential aged care due to their disability – enabling them to live in suitable Specialist Disability Accommodation, according to their wishes and their needs. For more information, click here.
Improving health outcomes for Australians with an intellectual disability
A landmark National Roadmap has been released for Improving the Health of People with an Intellectual Disability – outlining improvements to family and carer support, support for health professionals, oral health, emergency preparedness, and more. For more on this plan, click here.
The Morrison Government is committed to ensuring primary health care continues to be patient-focused, accessible, and capable of providing preventive health and management of chronic conditions.
Recent investment in medical treatments include:
- $50 million to support the fight against HIV and blood borne viruses.
- Improving access to Haemopoietic progenitor cells, self-renewing stem cells, for Australian patients with blood disorders such as leukemia who are undergoing chemo or radiation therapy.
- Improving the diagnosis and treatment of hypertension through $40.5 million.
- Delivering a new CGM device for Australians with diabetes, as well as releasing a new 10-year plan to support Australians with diabetes to improve prevention, early detection, management and care.
Additional funds to support continued response to Royal Commission
Announced in the Mid-Year Economic Outlook, the Federal Liberal Government is committing $632.6 million to continue implementing its response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, building on the record $17.7 billion already committed in the 2021/22 Budget. For more information on this commitment, click here.
$34 million research centre to reinforce the future of aged care
An Aged Care Centre for Growth and Translational Research Centre is set to open at Flinders University next year – worth $34 million – with an initial focus on dementia care, restorative care and rehabilitation, mental health and wellbeing, and social isolation. For more information, click here.
$102 million expands National Dementia Support Program
Our Government is also investing $102 million to expand and strengthen Australia’s National Dementia Support Program, more than doubling funding for the program to ensure Australians currently living with dementia, and their families, have access to the highest quality support. For more information, click here.
More seniors access home care packages as waiting list decreases
Thanks to the Morrison Government’s record investment in home care packages, the number of people accessing a home care package has grown by over 41,000 Australians in from December 2020 to December 2021 – bringing the number of recipients to a total of 204,146 at September 2021. For more information, click here.
$56 million to improve end of life care
$56 million is being delivered to improve end of life and palliative care for Australians, including more than $37 million is being provided across Australia to expand the Greater Choice for At Home Palliative Care program. $19 million is to go towards three University programs researching improvements to end of life care. For more information, click here.