$48.1m extra funding for mental health support

 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is addressing the prospect of a worrying mental health crisis as Australians deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

The PM sat down with state and territory leaders this morning to discuss what could be done to help struggling Australians

The national cabinet will consider a new mental health pandemic plan at its meeting, looking to boost support services.

Health experts have predicted a rise in suicides as 600,000 Aussies are left jobless and the economy remains crippled with debt.

Australia has recorded 7023 cases of COVID-19, with 3071 in New South Wales, 1543 in Victoria, 1054 in Queensland, 439 in South Australia, 554 in Western Australia, 225 in Tasmania, 107 in the Australian Capital Territory and 30 in the Northern Territory.

Australia's death toll is at 98.

Follow our live, rolling coverage below.

 

'You can't test your way out of quarantine'

CMO Dr Murphy has addressed returned travellers hoping to get out of the entire two-week mandated quarantine.

"I want to make it very clear that there is no amount of PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing or swab testing that can obviate the need for quarantine," Dr Murphy said.

"If you are a returned traveller from a risk area, and a quarantine requirement is in place, having a test done, a swab and a PCR done, just means whether you are positive on that day.

"It doesn't mean that you're not incubating the virus, and it doesn't mean that you can get out of quarantine earlier.

"So, there's been a bit of misinformation around about that, but you can't test your way out of quarantine, unfortunately."

 

Elective surgery back as COVID patients in hospital drop to 50

Australia's chief medical officer Dr Brendan Murphy has said there's only 50 coronavirus patients left in hospital.

"That is a wonderful statistic," Dr Murphy told reporters in Canberra today.

Of the 50 in hospital, 12 are on ventilators and Australia's hospital capacity is sitting at around 50-60 per cent.

"We are starting to see some increase, with elective surgery relaxations announced a few weeks ago but there is now pretty good room for further expansion, and clearly in those states that are having essentially no cases, they want to go fairly quickly back to full elective activity," Dr Murphy said.

"Those states that still have some transmission are probably going to take it a bit more gently. But everybody is now heading towards full elective surgery, which is a really important thing.

"A really important thing is that Australians do not neglect their general health issues. If you need to go and see your specialist, you need to go and see your GP, please do so. And if you need to get help with mental health conditions, please, please do so."

 

$48.1m extra funding for mental health support

The federal government has today announced the National Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan.

The plan, put together by Australia's National Mental Health Commission, will receive $48.1 million in additional support.

"The stress of concerns about health, the loneliness of isolation, anxiety about a job, a small business set of finances, the mortgage - all of these pressures which come with the pandemic have created significant mental health challenges," Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

"Everyone here will have seen or felt, in amongst their own families or friends or circles, the pressures that are in place right across Australia. So, one of the most important things we can do is to provide mental health support."

 

Domestic holidays to resume soon, PM hopes

Australia's borders might be closed to the rest of the world but our state and territories could be reopening their internal ones soon.

"As the borders fall internally, and Australians can hopefully soon return to domestic holidays and to move around the country more widely - particularly with school holidays coming up again in July - we're reminded that the net tourism imports to Australia is just over $20 billion a year," Mr Morrison said.

"That means that, after you take account of international tourists coming here, and Australians going overseas, that there is an import, net import factor, of just over $20 billion.

"Now, that's up for grabs for Australian domestic tourism operators.

"Australians who might otherwise go elsewhere, that is a very large market, and that will be targeted. And I had that discussion with the Minister for Tourism this week, and to work with Tourism Australia and the other state and territory agencies that are responsible for tourism, to focus on seeing that realised as our domestic tourism industry gets back on its feet, which will be an important employer, particularly in regional areas."

 

$220b in loan deferrals already in place

Mr Morrison said a massive $220 billion in loan deferrals had been put in place by Australia's banks.

Two-thirds of that are in mortgages, and one-third was small and medium-sized enterprises.

"The banks have also not been enforcing, broadly speaking, covenants, and they have been holding off on revaluations, and not pursuing recovery actions, other than for pre-existing cases," he said.

"Insolvencies are currently running below average. That's obviously supported by what I've just said, in terms of the actions that banks have been taking, but also importantly one of the significant protections that we put in place as a Federal Government early on was the protections against actions by creditors and others against enterprises in relation to pursuing them, and forcing them into liquidation."

Mr Morrison said Australia's super system was also surviving.

The government brought in a scheme that allowed Australians to access up to $20,000 from their super to help with money during the crisis.

"The super system, we are advised, is responding very well, the superannuation system, with some $11.7 billion in claims," Mr Morrison said.

"It was noted that this was consistent with the Treasury estimate, and this was not presenting liquidity issues. The head of APRA has advised us."

 

Getting Australians back in job 'now the curve we're working on'

Mr Morrison said the government was now focused on getting Australians back into jobs as restrictions are slowly lifted.

"That is the curve we are now working on together," he said.

"We noted…that the stability had returned to financial markets. While they are fragile, they remain very functional.

"We noted that our banking system has stood up well, but we must be conscious that the shock absorbers that are in our system, whether it be the banking system or, indeed, in federal supports and other supports, they have limits. They are not endless. They have capacities.

"And it's essential that, as we move forward, that we continue to enable the credit to flow through our banking system, to support those businesses who are taking decisions to reopen, to rehire, and to move ahead."

 

Prime Minister providing update

The PM is providing an update on Australia's coronavirus battle after a meeting with the national cabinet and Christine Morgan, the head of the National Mental Health Commission.

"It has been a very difficult time," Mr Morrison said.

"Australians are hurting right here and right now, as we were reminded so terribly yesterday, with almost 600,000 people having lost jobs.

"And it has been a National Cabinet that has been very aware of these impacts. And they have made difficult decisions, together, to protect the health of Australians, but also to protect the livelihoods of Australians as well."



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