THE number of psychological therapy sessions subsidised by Medicare has now doubled for all Victorians living under stage 3 and 4 coronavirus restrictions, from 10 sessions per year to 20.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the increase to subsidised psychological therapy last week in response to the “second wave” of COVID-19 restrictions.
Echuca-based psychologist Jill Prowse said the session increase was an important and welcome change.
“For many clients, they perhaps don’t come as often as they should because of the limit,” Ms Prowse said.
“I’ve seen in my clients, some are becoming worse because of the pandemic; they’re worried about becoming sick, job loss, and an inability to do their usual activities to manage stress.”
Ms Prowse also serves as president of the Rural Australian Psychologists and Psychotherapist Association.
She said it would be beneficial if 20 sessions per year became the norm — but wasn’t holding out hope the current increase would continue past March 2021.
There are several practicing psychologists in Echuca, however a number of those offering bulk billing and involved in the Medicare rebate scheme were not taking on new clients.
The Australian Association for Social Workers welcomed the increase in subsidised therapy sessions and repeated Ms Prowse’s statement, saying patients commonly rationed their sessions.
Only those who’ve gone into isolation or had their movements restricted by public health orders between July 1 and March 2021 can access the extra 10 sessions.
This criteria means all Victorians are eligible.
In order to make use of the Medicare subsidy a person needs to have a Mental Health Treatment Plan and complete a review with their GP.
● If you or someone you know is in need of help, call Lifeline on 131 114, or visit or call BeyondBlue on 1300 224 636.