What's new in primary mental health care?

Mental health reform and PHNs

On Thursday 26 November 2015 the Australian Government announced a structural reform package for mental health. This was in response to the National Mental Health Commission Review of Mental Health Programs and Services. The Government's response to the NMHC Review and a factsheet about the reforms can be accessed on the Department of Health website at

Under the reforms funding for a number of mental health programs, including MHNIP, transfers to the Primary Health Networks (PHNs) from 1 July 2016. For 2016-17 the funding for MHNIP will be quarantined and PHNs are required to commission mental health nursing services from the current network of MHNIP providers. From 2017-18 the funding will transition fully to the PHN flexible funding pool and MHNIP as it now exists will change as there will not be defined mental health programs. There is updated information on the changes to MHNIP on the Department of Health website available at

The ACMHN also has a Mental Health Reform section in News/events on our website which provides a summary of the key documents regarding the mental health reforms, updates from the ACMH and other relevant information


Primary Care / Mental Health Reform - 2016-2017

The Australian Government has made a number of announcements about the future of mental health services. The College is actively engaging with the Department of Health, the Primary Health Networks (PHNs) and other key stakeholders to ensure that the voices of mental health nurses are heard in this process, and that we are involved the decisions relevant to our members. Reform is also happening across the health system in the management of chronic disease and alcohol and other drugs. We are working to involve mental health nurses in the discussions that are relevant to our role.

If you would like to see a summary of the key documents regarding mental health reform, updates from the College, and comments from other organisations, please go to our Mental Health Reform page on the website.

If you have any questions about our work on these issues please contact our Policy and Stakeholder Engagement Manager, Amanda Bresnan, on 02 6285 1078 or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can also keep up to date by signing up to the Primary Mental Health Care Special Interest Group and eList.


The Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program - Budget 2014-15

From the Budget Papers:
Mental Health Nurse Incentive Programme — continuation

The Government will provide $23.4 million in 2014 15 to maintain existing service levels for the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Programme which provides coordinated support for people with severe and persistent mental illness. This funding will enable mental health nurses, who are engaged by community, based general practices, private psychiatric practices and other similar organisations, to continue to provide clinically relevant services to approximately 60,000 patients.


Kim's comments:
The additional funding to MHNIP will allow the Program to continue to provide services at the same level as 2013-2014. The Department has sent the ACMHN a letter confirming the continued MHNIP funding, and all eligible organisations will receive a letter about 2014-15 in the near future. Click here to see the letter.

We will be requesting a meeting with Department of Health to seek further information on the management of the program over the next 12 months. We will be advocating strongly that a permanent funding allocation is made for a revitalised MHNIP through the National Mental Health Commission's Review of Mental Health Programs.


Letter to Kim Ryan, CEO of the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses, from the Department of Health