COVID-19 and Australia’s Mental Health: Preventing Pandemic Distress Through Economic Supports

Policy paper published by Australia’s Mental Health Think Tank

Temporary government-funded economic supports, JobKeeper and the Coronavirus Supplement for Youth Allowance and JobSeeker, introduced in 2020, played a key role in reducing mental ill- health for Australians.

Despite the clear indicators of the worsening mental health crisis during the current 2021 lockdowns, economic supports remain limited and hard to access. Economic supports which have been introduced during the current lockdowns do not have many of the key features that made the 2020 schemes so successful, in terms of boosting the economy and supporting people’s mental health.

The 2020 economic supports were relatively universal. Limited accessibility requirements enabled the schemes to be implemented quickly and reach the people who needed them, including young people and families. Relaxation of eligibility requirements like means testing ensured individuals and families did not need to exhaust savings to be able to access support. Support was provided at a sufficient level to support cost of living, but below a level which would act as a disincentive to work where available.

Young people, who more vulnerable to unemployment, casual and insecure work and have limited savings to fall back on, are not receiving the economic support they need to help limit mental distress and escalating mental health crisis.

Australia’s Mental Health Think Tank strongly recommends the urgent introduction of:

  1. Coronavirus 2021 Supplement for Youth Allowance and JobSeeker, to provide people experiencing unemployment during the pandemic sufficient financial security.
  2. JobKeeper 2.0 or equivalent national scheme for businesses, to support people to stay connected to work and provide financial security during the pandemic.

Access the policy paper

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