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PSYCHOLOGIST HOPES MEDICARE-FUNDED SESSIONS INCREASE WILL STAY

Published: 11 August 2020

The number of therapy sessions subsidised by Medicare has doubled for all Victorians living under stage
three and four restrictions, going from 10 sessions per year to 20.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the increase to subsidised psychological therapy on Sunday in
response to the “second wave’’ of COVID-19 restrictions.
Shepparton’s Ross Psychology director Leah Ross said the increase to Medicare-funded sessions would
greatly support the local community.
Ms Ross was particularly hopeful young children with developmental delays would benefit from the session
increase.
Currently, Ross Psychology has suspended its therapy sessions because of stage three restrictions.
‘‘Whilst Ross Psychology is closed at present due to COVID-19, our feelings are that any increase in the
Medicare-funded sessions are a great support to our local communities,’’ Ms Ross said.
Echuca-based Jill Prowse serves as president of the Rural Australian Psychologists and Psychotherapists
Association.
Ms Prowse said many Victorian psychologists were currently using telehealth measures — phone
conversations, video conferencing — to conduct their sessions under restrictions.
She said it would be beneficial if 20 sessions per year became the norm, but was not holding out hope the
current increase would continue past its scheduled end date of March 2021.
‘‘For many clients, they perhaps don’t come as often as they should because of the session limit,’’ Ms Prowse
said.
The Australian Association of Social Workers welcomed the increase in subsidised therapy sessions and
agreed with Ms Prowse’s statement, saying patients commonly rationed their sessions.
Only those who have gone into isolation or had their movements restricted by public health orders between
July 1 and March 2021 can access the extra 10 sessions.
This criteria means all Victorians are eligible.
To make use of the Medicare subsidy a person needs to have a Mental Health Treatment Plan and complete
a review with their GP.
If you or someone you know is in need of help, call Lifeline on 131114 or Beyond Blue on 1300224636.
It's expected most of those who will make use of the extra 10 therapy sessions will be patients who have
already used up their original 10 yearly subsidised sessions.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers