Changes to Medicare in drought-affected regions

There will be some changes to Medicare that will take effect on 1 November 2018 to provide mental health support to individuals in drought-affected regions.

  1. Eligible GPs in rural and remote (Monash Modified Model (MMM) 4-7) regions will be able to deliver Focussed Psychological Strategy consultations via telehealth (videoconference) under the Medicare Better Access initiative.
  • Eligible GPs include those practicing in MMM regions 4 -7 who have been endorsed by the GP Mental Health Standards Collaboration as having completed mental health skills training and who are registered with Medicare to provide Focussed Psychological Strategies consultations under the Medicare Better Access initiative.
  • Patient eligibility is as per the existing arrangements for the Better Access telehealth initiative implemented on 1 November 2017 (More here)
  • Further details will be available shortly on the Department of Health website
  • The Australian Psychological Society has published information for practitioners on delivery of telehealth services. This information is available here.
  • It is anticipated that the GP Mental Health Standards Collaboration will update their material for GPs to include further advice on delivering services via telehealth.


  1. In addition, the Prime Minister’s announcement on 26 October includes time-limited changes to Medicare under the  Mental Health and Well-Being Support by Telehealth in Drought-Affected Communities initiative.
  • Six new MBS items will be available to enable medical practitioners working in Modified Monash 3 to 7 areas to provide general mental health and well-being support access via telehealth (videoconference) to eligible patients living in areas belonging to the 23 drought declared councils identified under the Drought Communities Programme.
  • A full list of eligible councils is available here
  • Eligible patients will not be required to have a diagnosed mental illness or Mental Health Treatment Plan in order to access these services.