2022-23 WA Budget Delivered

Snapshot

“What we're doing is using our strong financial position to invest heavily in the health system and make sure we can deal with the demand as it arises,” Premier Mark McGowan

“… [the 2022-23 State Budget] falls short in providing targeted relief to lower income people and those who have been doing it toughest over the last two years of the pandemic,” WACOSS CEO Louise Giolitto

“This is a good budget, the Government’s delivered a quinella. They’ve significantly reduced net debt and at the same time the Government has delivered some good reform initiatives,” CCIWA Chief Economist Aaron Morey

This year’s Western Australia State Budget boasts a $5.7 billion surplus while delivering significant investment in the health sector. It also contains measures to ease cost of living pressures, most notably a $400 electricity credit for every household. Whilst such measures are welcome, welfare groups have argued that a more targeted approach was needed for vulnerable households.

OTA also notes that allied health has received limited attention in the 2022-23 Budget, with missed opportunities to enhance the attraction and retention of allied health professionals in WA.

OTA will continue to highlight to government throughout the upcoming Federal election the vital work of occupational therapists, including in the four key areas of mental health and wellbeing, aged care, primary care, and disability identified in OTA’s 2022 Election Playbook.

To access the State Budget Papers in full, go to https://www.ourstatebudget.wa.gov.au/budget-papers.html.

COVID-19

In partnership with the Commonwealth, the budget delivers $1.4 billion in 2021-22 and $176 million in the first half of 2022-23 to support the state to transition to living with COVID-19. Key initiatives include:

  • $635 million to secure Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) and run the WA Free RAT Program;
  • $537 million in health services including for COVID-19 testing and monitoring, medical equipment, contact tracing, hotel quarantine and the vaccination roll out;
  • $61 million towards WA Police Force State Emergency Management Response initiatives, including border controls, cleaning, PPE and the operation of the 13 COVID hotline; and
  • $42.5 million towards school COVID-19 measures – implementing schools ventilation strategy, enhanced cleaning, contact tracing support, masks and distribution of RATs.

As part of the national agreement, some elements of the public health measures will receive a 50 per cent contribution from the Commonwealth Government.

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Hospitals and health infrastructure

The 2022-23 Budget invests in health infrastructure across the health and mental health system, including $223.4 million next year and a total of $1.6 billion over four years. This is in addition to $1.8 billion set aside in the 2020-21 financial year to construct a new Women and Babies Hospital.

Key investments in existing projects include:

  • $44 million to increase the Medical Equipment and Imaging Replacement Program;
  • $38.1 million as part of Stage 1 of digital medical record keeping across the hospital system to modernise and enhance service delivery, including an initial roll out at five sites;
  • $16.7 million to build a 10-bed pod to upgrade the ICU at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital;
  • $7.6 million for refurbishment works within the Neurological Intervention and Imaging Service of WA unit at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital to house two new biplanar units; and
  • $5.9 million to commence site development and forward works for the Byford Health Hub.

The Budget also allocates funding to the planning of new health infrastructure, including:

  • $10 million to develop business cases for the State-wide reconfiguration of mental health services and Graylands Hospital redevelopment; and
  • $2.5 million towards the development of a business case to inform options for the proposed WA Comprehensive Cancer Centre.

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Emergency care

A key component of the health response outlined in the 2022-23 State Budget is a $252 million emergency services reform package.

Comprising 17 initiatives, it is intended to improve access to emergency care and help address the causes of ambulance ramping by enhancing system-wide coordination in the short and long term. Highlights include:

  • $18.2 million investment in real-time data capability to manage system pressures and improve the flow of patients through emergency departments;
  • $55.8 million to embed 24/7 registered nurses across 15 metropolitan and regional Emergency Department waiting rooms;
  • $74.1 million for innovative measures by securing more appropriate forms of care for long stay patients, who often have complex care needs and require suitable supports and residential accommodation;
  • $55.2 million for telehealth services which provide patient care for people who do not need emergency department support to reduce emergency department presentations; and
  • An additional $5.5 million to extend the Virtual Emergency Medicine pilot program in the South Metropolitan Health Service and an additional $5 million to expand the program across the other metropolitan health services – to better triage incoming patients.

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Workforce

Western Australia’s growing health workforce will be bolstered through initiatives in the 2022-23 State Budget, including:

  • $8.1 million for the International Medical Graduates registration project;
  • $7 million to deliver Aboriginal midwifery services, an election commitment;
  • $3.5 million to establish the final year of neurology training in WA to help retain neurologists locally; and
  • $3.7 million pilot program to establish and commence the Aboriginal Health Practitioners profession in WA.

While OTA welcomes these investments, it is disappointing that the Budget does not deliver more investment in the attraction and retention of allied health professionals in the WA health workforce.

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Regions

Of the health spending outlined in the 2022-23 State Budget, $158.3 million has been earmarked for the regions. This includes:

  • An additional $49.4 million towards the Geraldton Health Campus Redevelopment;
  • $30.1 million for a further 18 paid paramedics and six additional ambulances in regional WA;
  • $18.5 million to expand the WA Country Health Service Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service frontline workforce across seven regions by 11.6 FTE;
  • $14.1 million towards newborn emergency transport services;  
  • $10 million to expand Pilbara Health Initiatives to deliver specialist paediatric, cancer, haematology, stroke and neurology services at the Karratha Health Campus and surrounds;
  • $11 million – of a total $55.8 million investment – to ensure there is a registered nurse 24/7 at major regional Emergency Departments;
  • $5.1 million to continue the WACHS Mental Health Emergency Telehealth Service;
  • $5 million in additional funding to address urgent critical staff accommodation issues; and
  • An additional $2.3 million for the Broome Step Up/Step Down facility and an additional $1.6 million for the Karratha Step Up/Step Down facility to address increased construction costs.

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Mental health and AOD

This Budget allocates $1.3 billion for WA’s mental health, alcohol and other drug services in 2022-23, reflecting approximately a 13 per cent increase in funding on the previous year’s State Budget.

This includes an additional $181 million to fund new and expanded mental health services, with $47.3 million to support immediate recommendations from Infants, Children and Adolescent Taskforce, including:

  • $18.5 million to expand the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service frontline workforce across seven regions by 11.6 FTE;
  • $12.9 million for additional Peer Support Workers;
  • $10.5 million to deliver a two-year virtual support service for at risk children;
  • $4 million to establish an interagency program office, undertake service model design and develop an implementation plan; and
  • $1.3 million for mental health workforce development initiatives.

Other initiatives include:

  • $10.8 million to extend the Active Recovery Teams pilot which aims to reduce unplanned hospital readmission and emergency department presentations;
  • $5.1 million towards Mental Health Emergency Telehealth Service operated by the WA Country Health Service;
  • $6.1 million to continue Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder prevention initiatives;
  • $3.5 million for suicide prevention services; and
  • $3.5 million to support the development of a pilot alcohol-related violence prevention program at Royal Perth Hospital Emergency Department.

The State Government will spend an additional $16 million and provide $10.5 million of in-kind contributions to support the WA Bilateral Schedule to the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Agreement, a $61.5 million joint investment into mental health and suicide prevention.

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Schools

The 2022-23 State Budget commits to new and expanding initiatives to support students with disabilities and additional learning needs. This includes:

  • $18.2 million for WA’s Specialist Learning Programs for students with autism spectrum disorder to enable their expansion to eight additional schools;
  • $2.5 million for a new Year 1 phonics initiative to assess and support the development of students’ phonics skills; and
  • $4.6 million to fund the implementation of the Students with Disabilities and Complex Behaviour Framework.

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Disability

The 2022-23 Budget invests a $95.7 million funding boost to support Western Australians with disability. This includes:

  • $78.5 million to support growth in the number of participants in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS); and
  • $7.7 million over two years to expand the Disability Transition Care Pilot, enabling long-term patients who are awaiting NDIS services to be discharged from hospital to a transitional facility.

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Older adults

The 2022-23 State Budget allocates $74.1 million to a range of initiatives to expand options for discharging patients who remain in hospital longer than clinically required. This includes funding for increased number of transition care places in community aged care centres for older adults.

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