Major Wins for Women and Mental Healthcare in Latest Federal Budget

A Black woman stands serenely in a whirling blur of flowers and leaves.
Photo by Diana Simumpande.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has released the latest federal budget ahead of a looming election. While renewables and real wages will receive little to no help, the budget outlines massive support measures for women and those struggling with mental ill-health. 

This heralds a much-deserved victory for many Australians, especially underprivileged communities embattled by back-to-back disasters, economic inequality, and the rising cost of living

Let’s unpack what these announcements mean for women and mental healthcare, and where people can access resources and support services.

RELATED: What the new federal budget means for you

Emphasis on closing gender gaps in the new budget

A diverse group of women stand in a row, arms over shoulders, before a beautiful desert Calinfornian view.
Photo by Omar Lopez.

Many of the new budget announcements aim to close gender gaps through more nuanced access and support in women’s safety, healthcare, and self-determination. 

RELATED: Let’s talk about the gender property gap

Here’s a breakdown of which budget changes benefit women.

Paid Parental Leave

The major triumph for women is a revamping of the federal Paid Parental Leave (PPL) scheme. Payments that have previously been split across two different schemes for primary and secondary carers will now be combined into one, meaning co-parents can split the leave however they’d like.

With this simplification, the budget hopes to promote equality and empower families to make their own decisions. Mothers and fathers can split the 20 weeks leave as best suits them, while single parents (the vast majority of whom are women) can now access the full 20 weeks leave on their own.

The household income test will also be adjusted to a threshold of $350,000 per year. Unfortunately there will still be no superannuation on PPL, so the retirement gender gap may still persist. 

The government plans to implement the new PPL scheme by March 2023 and will allocate $346.1 million to facilitate the changes over five years.


Socioeconomic inequality and harmful societal expectations unfortunately puts women at a higher risk of both physical and mental ill-health. Thankfully, the government has flagged a few key inclusions to improve healthcare access for women and nonbinary/trans folks with female physical characteristics.

Chief among the new measures is $58 million over four years in funding for people suffering from endometriosis. Among the provisions: 

  • $16 million will go to establishing specialised clinics in every state and territory.
  • $25 million will cover MRIs under Medicare. 
  • $5 million will help develop an Endometriosis Management Plan to support people with the disease. 

Additionally, the breast cancer treatment medication Trodelvy has been added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits scheme, which will save affected patients tens of thousands of dollars. Genetic testing for pregnancies will also become free from November 2023 thanks to a new $181 million program.

Ending family and domestic violence

The new federal budget has pledged over $1.3 billion in support over the next six years towards ending violence against women and children. The money will be spread across a raft of different measures and programs.

In particular, $54.6 million will go toward the Keeping Women Safe in Their Homes program, which provides women with the technology and means to check if survivors of domestic violence are being tracked, such as through spyware on their devices or hidden cameras in their homes. This will help alleviate technology-based abuse and keep step with the changing needs of survivors.

Advocates against family violence and abuse have long argued that significant, long-term funding is direly needed in this space (an estimated $1 billion a year just for frontline services alone). 

The five-year time span for the funding comes as a particularly welcome (if long overdue) relief, since advocates believe long-term support will give the programs the best chance to succeed.

New mental health support will help protect millions of Australians

An iPad with a graphic that says Mental Health Matters.
Photo by Emily Underworld.

The federal government first began reviewing mental healthcare measures in 2020, after the pandemic, floods, and bushfires worsened an already dire public mental health crisis. 

Now, according to the new budget, the government will put in $500 million over five years toward the next stage of the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention plan. 

The funding will be divided among several organisations, services, and government agencies, including: 

  • $42.3 million over four years for Lifeline, a suicide prevention crisis support service.
  • $14.8 million over five years for Headspace, a service assisting young people experiencing mental ill-health.
  • 20 sessions with a psychologist, partially subsidised by Medicare. 

Special mental health support for flood victims has also been announced, with immediate and long-term support outlined in the budget. (Here’s a list of flood support services).

This will especially benefit Australian women, since they are 2-3 times more likely to experience mental ill-health within their lifetime; the gap worsens when other intersecting identities, such as sexuality, race, and ability, are included.

Resource Guides

A white woman smiles at the camera. Black and white portrait, close up of her face and shoulders.
Photo by Rachel McDermott.

Where to get help for mental health

If you are struggling with mental ill-health, you’re not alone. There are several organisations who can support you.

If a life is in danger, call 000.

Lifeline (13 11 14) provides free 24/7 crisis support.

Headspace specialises in mental health support for young Australians, especially low-income, racially diverse, LGBTQIAP+, First Nations, or disabled youth. 

Beyond Blue provides support and awareness for anxiety and depression. You can access their help by calling 1300 22 4636 or using their free 24/7 online chat.

The Australian government has also created a comprehensive list of mental health support services, particularly for people struggling with pandemic-related stress.

Where to get help for family and domestic violence support

If you are struggling with family or domestic violence, you are not alone. There are resources available to support you and get you to safety.

If a life is in danger, call 000.

For help, you can reach out to following:

  • 1800 Respect national helpline: 1800 737 732
  • Women's Crisis Line: 1800 811 811
  • Mensline Australia: 1300 789 978
  • Men's Referral Service: 1300 766 491
  • Lifeline (24 hour crisis line): 13 11 14
  • Relationships Australia: 1300 364 277

For more information, Services Australia has a resource page for family and domestic violence (including a quick exit option).

Head over to our family finances hub for more resources.