BUDGET 2011: Govt spends on e-mental health portal

The Federal Government has allocated $14.4 million over five years for the establishment of a single e-mental health online portal in an effort to make services easier to access for users.

The portal, outlined in the 2011 federal budget and part of the government's National Mental Health Reform initiative, will provide online training and support to general practitioners, indigenous health workers and other clinicians working in the mental health field.

It will also consolidate existing “scattered” websites and telephone services to enable people to access numerous online or telephone based services through what the government describes as a “virtual clinic”.

Through the portal, consumers will have access to a range of online assistance at various treatment levels, while health workers will have access to information, training and resources to help deliver treatment and mental health services.

In particular, the new portal will benefit those in regional Australia struggling to gain access to face-to-face treatment as well as those wishing to seek information and support anonymously.

The portal joins a wealth of single-stop Web shops announced by the government, including the allocation of $38.7 million to the Human Services portfolio over four years for the completion of its single website and telephone number, the first phase of which was launched in December last year. The funding forms part of a massive $576.2 million in funding delivered to the department, which overshadowed much of the other ICT spending in this week's budget.

According to the government, the funding, $9.1 million of which will be met from agency resources, will support the continued development of a single portfolio website which will include personalised Web browsing enabling users to find information relevant to their personal circumstances.

The initiative aims to give users easier access to information and services of the department.

In its recently released five-year draft strategic ICT vision, the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) made reference to the increased use of the australia.gov.au single sign-on portal, a service operated out of the Human Services Department. The service has so far been limited to the agency’s portfolio of Medicare, Centrelink and some smaller agencies.

“Fewer and simpler interactions with government will allow people and businesses to increase their productivity, and as a consequence, that of the nation,” the document read.

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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