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2020-21 WA Budget Delivered

The 2020-21 WA budget was handed down on Thursday 8 October 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 a 1.2-billion-dollar surplus, the Western Australian Labor Government’s fourth budget continues a positive trend in the state’s economic fortunes.

Attributable to higher than anticipated iron ore royalties, much of the surplus has been allocated to the Asset Investment Program as part of a $5.5 billion investment in WA’s COVID-19 WA Recovery Plan to help drive economic and social recovery in 2020-21.

Surpluses are anticipated to exceed $1 billion for three of the four years of the forward estimates, reducing to $363 million in 2021/22 and rebounding to almost $1.5 billion by 2023/24. Overall state debt remains high, however, at more than $39 billion this financial year, and forecast to peak in 2021-22 at nearly $43 billion.  Treasury has based its modelling on the state's hard border coming down in the June quarter next year.

The McGowan Government is investing $314 million in community safety over the next four years, with a total of 800 new police officers being deployed, in addition to the 150 positions announced earlier this year.

WA households will benefit from a one-off $600 Electricity bill rebate, as well as from the temporary freezing of household fees and charges. 

Health and Hospitals

Funding of $9.6 billion will be invested in health services in 2020-21. This includes $1.013 billion in mental health, alcohol and other drug services. Core hospital services will benefit from $168.6 million to help meet increasing public demand.

The budget includes expenditure of $80 million to end-December 2020 for COVID-19 readiness activities; and $18.1 million to continue the State Health Incident Coordination Centre and Public Health Emergency Operations Centre in 2020-21.  Ongoing investment to ensure adequate levels of personal protective equipment, medical supplies, medicines, and other pharmaceuticals, as well as critical medical equipment, will continue into 2020-21.

Funding for digital initiatives under the WA Health Digital Strategy 2020-2030, includes $8.1 million in 2019-20 to 2021-22 to commence planning for the electronic medical records system. There is funding of $15 million for upgrades to Human Resource Management and $9.7 million to expand Telestroke services and establish a state-wide 24/7 Telestroke service for rapid diagnosis and treatment advice for acute stroke.

Other initiatives include:

  • $6.8 million towards expanding the School Dental Service;
  • $4.8 million towards the treatment of complex aged care clients that require high cost pharmaceuticals;
  • $2.7 million towards breast screening services to address increasing community demand;
  • $18 million towards maintaining the current level of support for clients who have not transitioned to the National Disability Insurance Scheme;
  • $7.5 million of increased funding to meet increasing demand for priority community services contracts;
  • $9.2 million for country ambulance services and enhanced access for country patients;
  • $10.3 million for the WA Country Health Service Command Centre; and
  • $18.8 million to operate six regional renal hostels.

Additional commitments planned and underway include:

  • $35.8 million elective surgery blitz aim at returning elective wait lists to pre-pandemic levels;
  • $60.8 million investment towards redeveloping Bunbury Regional Hospital;
  • $55.5 million operational investment implementing the Murdoch Medihotel pilot program;
  • $29.4 million for additional medical internships at WA hospitals;
  • $22.6 million to establish a laboratory at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital;
  • $22 million towards the replacement of medical equipment across the system;
  • $20.1 million to strengthen End-of-Life Care and to support implementation of Voluntary Assisted Dying reforms;
  • $19 million for the redevelopment of the emergency department at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and accommodation of a Behavioural Assessment Urgent Care Clinic;
  • $7.98 million towards the planning and development of the Broome Health and Wellbeing Campus; and
  • $13.3 million for the construction of the Royal Perth Hospital Synapse Innovation Hub.

Mental Health

The WA government is investing $1.013 billion in mental health, alcohol and other drug services in 2020-21.

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

Funding of $46.9 million will support suicide prevention programs and initiatives including $9.77 million for Aboriginal regional suicide prevention plans in each region of WA, prioritising Aboriginal-led and locally endorsed initiatives.

Other initiatives include:

  • $25.1 million for establishment of a 16-bed youth mental health, alcohol and other drug homelessness service in metropolitan Perth;
  • $24.5 million for a 20-bed adult community care unit providing high-level support and rehabilitation in a home-like environment in the community;
  • An additional $62.8 million for public mental health hospital services; and
  • $24.4 million to expand mental health facilities at Fremantle Hospital.

The government will also upgrade alcohol and other drug support and treatment facilities throughout the state. This includes the Next Step Drug and Alcohol Services, Midland Intervention Centre and community sobering up centres in Roebourne, Carnarvon, Wyndham, Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing.

There is a commitment of $87.6 million in capital and operational funding through to 2023-24 to continue establishing regional community mental health step up/step down services. Planned services include a 10-bed Kalgoorlie service, a 10-bed Geraldton service, a six-bed Broome service, and a six-bed Karratha service opening in 2021.

Aged Care

The Government is investing $9.2 million to continue regional aged care services for the Pilbara, provided at Karlarra House; as well as $5.5 million to address the funding gap for hospital services, home care services and residential aged care services in smaller rural communities during the transition of Commonwealth-funded programs to new models of care.

Education

Funding of $1.8 million will support the Mt Lawley NDIS Simulated Training Space at North Metropolitan TAFE to create NDIS in-home simulated training spaces for individuals in home care.

To meet the increased need to support students with autism spectrum disorder within public schools, additional specialist programs are being established in public schools to provide a seamless education across Kindergarten to Year 12.

Research

Recent amendments to the Western Australia Future Fund Act 2012 will be implemented with a budget allocation of nearly $25 million in 2020-21. This will support health and medical research and innovation, with $6 million already committed towards COVID-19 research. A total of $116.3 million from the Fund is committed through to 2023-24.

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