The Morrison government has announced another $1.1 billion in health and social support amid disturbing signs domestic violence is already on the rise as the coronavirus wreaks economic havoc.
“Google is seeing the highest magnitude of searches for domestic violence help that they have seen in the past five years with an increase of 75 per cent and some services are already reporting an increase in demand,” the government said in a statement.
The funding will be used for counselling and education programs, an information campaign to help victims, as well as support programs for women and children experiencing violence to protect themselves to stay in their homes, or a home of their choice, when it is safe to do so.
Mr Morrison believes as many people could die from suicide, domestic violence and crime as a consequence of the economic collapse, as could die from the virus.
$670m for Medicare
Another intial $74 million from the $1.1 billion will be used to bolster mental health services while the majority share of $669 million will fund a Medicare boost so no-one has to see a doctor in person for a routine consultation.
“This will take pressure off hospitals and emergency departments and allow people to access essential health services in their home, while supporting self-isolation and quarantine policies,” the government said.
As well, bulk billing payments will be doubled and there will be incentive payments for doctors who see patients face-to-face for conditions that cannot be dealt with using telehealth.
These arrangements will apply until September 30 by when they will be reviewed.
Also Sunday, the government will give charities and other community organisations $200 million so they can provide emergency and food relief, as well as financial counselling, as demand surges.
“As we battle coronavirus on both the health and economic fronts with significant support packages in place and more to come, I am very aware many Australians are understandably anxious, stressed and fearful about the impacts of coronavirus and what it brings,” Mr Morrison said.
“We are focused on saving lives and saving livelihoods and this new support package will provide much needed care and help to so many Australians facing hardship at no fault of their own.
“We will get through this crisis by staying together, by supporting each other and ensuring that no Australian, even though we have to be isolated, should have to go through this alone.”
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