2019-20 WA Budget Delivered

The 2019-20 WA budget was handed down on Thursday 9 May by Treasurer Ben Wyatt.

OTA has prepared a summary of those budget measures most relevant to occupational therapists. Click on the links below to skip to the sections of most interest to you.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Delivering the first surplus in five years, the Western Australian Labor Government’s third budget marks a turning point in the state’s economic fortunes.

Improving iron ore prices, a guaranteed minimum GST take, and Commonwealth grants have enabled the McGowan Government to draw a line under a period of profligacy overseen by the former Coalition Government.

Treasurer Ben Wyatt announced a $553 million surplus this financial year, and an accumulated surplus over the forward estimates of $9.3 billion. Much of this, however, is already earmarked for infrastructure projects.

Overall state debt remains high, however, and is forecast to peak in 2019-20 at nearly $37 billion. This is more than $4 billion less than forecast in the last Coalition budget, reflecting the tough savings measures and fee increases of the past two years. While fees and charges will rise again, the increases will be the lowest in 13 years.

Premier Mark McGowan noted that WA is the only Australian jurisdiction in which overall debt was set to fall over the next four years.

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HEALTH AND HOSPITALS

Funding of $9.1 billion will be invested in health services in 2019-20.

An additional $316.4 million will be spent on core hospital and non-hospital services through to 2022-23.

The budget confirmed an earlier announcement of a new women’s and children’s hospital to replace the King Edward Memorial Hospital, with 65% of the proceeds from the sale of the TAB to help fund its construction.

Seed funding of $52 million will establish a Health Research and Innovation Fund, with ongoing funding to come from interest earned by the state’s Future Fund.

Other initiatives include:

  • Funding of $161 million to redevelop Joondalup Health Campus;
  • $26.4 million towards implementation of the Sustainable Health Review and initial projects, including $3.3 million to plan for the new women’s and children’s hospital to be co-located at the QEII site in Nedlands;
  • $22.7 million of new funding to refurbish the 24-bed Intensive Care Unit at Royal Perth Hospital;
  • $13.8 million for specialist services as part of the Pilbara Health Initiative, to enable patients to be treated closer to home;
  • Funding of $13.1 million for the construction of a facility at Albany Health Campus to house a linear accelerator;
  • $11 million for the continued planning for the redevelopment of Bunbury Hospital;
  • $6.3 million to fund a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) suite at Kalgoorlie Health Campus;
  • $7.3 million for upgrades to Bentley Hospital;
  • $4 million towards the new Laverton Hospital project;
  • Funding of $2 million to establish Urgent Care Clinics across the community;
  • $1.6 million to create culturally appropriate accommodation for Aboriginal patients and their carers while visiting metropolitan hospitals;
  • $1.3 million for the construction of a renal unit at the Newman Health Service, which will house four renal dialysis chairs and supporting infrastructure; and
  • $1 million for the Kimberley Mobile Dialysis Unit.

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MENTAL HEALTH

The WA government is investing $942.1 million in mental health, alcohol and drug services in 2019-20.

The budget includes funding for mental health initiatives with a focus on support, education, prevention and harm reduction, including:

  • $15.6 million for a new 20-bed secure mental health unit at Fremantle Hospital;
  • $8.9 million for the continuation of the Mental Health Court Diversion program;
  • $8.1 million for the Suicide Prevention Strategy to reduce the risk of suicide across the state, including in remote Indigenous communities;
  • $3.6 million towards the establishment of Recovery Colleges to support individuals in self-directed recovery from mental health and alcohol related issues; and
  • $3 million additional funding for comprehensive planning to decommission Graylands Hospital and reconfigure mental health services to reflect contemporary and more appropriate models of care.

The government is also investing more than $22.4 million in capital funding over the next four years to establish community mental health step up/step down services. Planned services include a 10-bed Bunbury service, a 10-bed Kalgoorlie service, a six-bed Broome service and a six-bed Karratha service.

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METHAMPHETAMINE ACTION PLAN

The budget includes a $42.5 million package for the co-ordinated and integrated Methamphetamine Action Plan, bringing the total investment to $244.8 million to address methamphetamine issues in WA.

This includes:

  • $20.1 million towards the North West Drug and Alcohol Support Program;
  • $9.2 million towards the development of a comprehensive alcohol and other drug youth service in the Kimberley;
  • $4.8 million to establish a 10-bed crisis centre in Midland;
  • $2.3 million for four low medical withdrawal beds in the Kimberley;
  • $914,000 for alcohol and other drug training for Aboriginal workers through the Strong Spirit Strong Mind program;
  • $631,000 to expand the existing Transitional Housing and Support Program, which will assist an additional 20 people each year;
  • $614,000 towards alcohol and other drug training for frontline workers such as psychologists, social workers and counsellors;
  • $457,000 for the Meth Peer Education Program, which focuses on harm reduction and health promotion;
  • $1.52 million to expand the needle syringe exchange program in high-demand regional areas including the Great Southern and Bunbury;
  • $1.05 million for alcohol and other drug education programs in schools with a focus on at-risk students;
  • $300,000 to expand the Hepatitis WA nurse-led program which supports GPs to provide brief interventions to meth users;
  • $200,000 towards planning for short term safe places for compulsory critical intervention;
  • $200,000 to plan for the expansion of the award-winning Mental Health Police Co-Response model to regional areas and to include support for alcohol and other drug issues; and
  • $150,000 towards raising awareness of the community Needle Syringe Exchange Programs.

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AGED CARE

The government is investing $41 million towards an end-of-life choices and palliative care package for WA.

This year’s budget includes an extra $5 million for a purpose-built 38-bed residential aged and palliative care facility in Carnarvon. $2.3 million has been provided for initiatives to tackle elder abuse, including continued funding for the WA Elder Abuse Helpline. The budget also includes $8.6 million to support the Karlarra House residential aged care facility in Port Hedland.

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EDUCATION

An additional $40 million has been allocated to students with disability in WA public schools through to 2022-23 to help address learning needs of students. This brings the total funding for students with disability in 2019 to $326.8 million.

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