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Mental Health First Issue for New PM Gillard?

24 June 2010 at 2:20 pm
Lina Caneva
An 84,000 strong petition asking the Government to commit to mental health funding was one of the first things to hit the desk of new Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.

Lina Caneva | 24 June 2010 at 2:20 pm


Mental Health First Issue for New PM Gillard?
24 June 2010 at 2:20 pm

An 84,000 strong petition asking the Government to commit to mental health funding was one of the first things to hit the desk of new Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.

Just hours after a party room spill and a unanimous vote electing Julia Gillard as the new Labor leader, Advocacy group GetUp and the Australian of the Year, Prof. Patrick McGorry delivered the petition to Gillard's office.

The printed petition currently stands at 2,423 pages and includes 1,293 personal messages from Australians who have first hand experience with the mental health system. 

The petition comes after Prof. John Mendoza, former chair of the National Mental Health Advisory Council and the Rudd Government's head advisor on mental health, resigned last Friday due to the Government's failure to act on the issue. He wrote to GetUp members this week explaining his resignation and asking for their support. 

The petition calls on the governments of Australia to act urgently and effectively to reform mental healthcare in Australia so that:

  • There is no longer inequality of access to effective treatments between physical health and mental health;
  • Early intervention is the norm;
  • Community based treatments are the norm; and
  • Quality services are the norm.

GetUp National Director Simon Sheikh says Prime Minister Gillard needs to be a bold leader on climate change, a compassionate voice on refugees, and a force for a fairer, more progressive Australia.

He says whatever she does, GetUp members will be here to keep her accountable – starting with mental health.

Sheikh says that he hopes the combined weight of the mental health experts and thousands of Australians will force the Government to act.

Professor Mendoza says Prime Minister Gillard needs to demonstrate her new Government has a vision and a plan to ensure that all Australians with mental ill-health have access to information, understanding, assessment and quality care.

GetUp is an independent, grass-roots community advocacy organisation giving Australians opportunities to get involved and hold politicians accountable on important issues. 

GetUp take one of their campaigns directly to the new Prime Minister on her first day in office (SOURCE: GetUp)


Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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  • Eunice Curran says:

    Immigration is far bigger than Mental Health and this is where the money is going – housing, counselling, accommodation and mental health issues due to traumatic experiences in their home country. The world is changing at the minute, people are escaping trying to get out of the hell of a country they live in and so there is not enough money for Mental Health. This is what I believe is the real problem. What the Labor Government (Gillard) will do and only do is finance the Lifeline and telephone agencies so those who are planning to jump off the bridge or whatever can telephone them for help or for someone with mental health to talk to someone. They won't send anyone to us for help. We have to go to them – pick up the phone and dial the number and listen to the prompts: blah blah blah. The Labor Government will not lift a finger, they didn't care about Rudd's mental health – look what they did to him, wouldn't even wait until he finished his term, just like they did to Hawke and we all know after that the Liberals swam back in!!! Give Up.

  • Ian Moses says:

    Like many others, I did what I could to help raise the awareness of this campaign and to encourage people to add their name to the petition. It was stated that the letter signed by 60 mental health organisation and the petition would be handed to the PM at a press conference. Can GetUp post the press conference on the website?

  • Helen Manser says:

    Unfortunately I found out too late to be part of the petition campaign but as the mother of a son with chronic schizophrenia and also a community worker I identify the huge unmet needs in communities for people with a mental illness.

    I also wish to support those requests made to the government.

    My particular concerns are around community based treatments and quality services. We have nothing here in Hobart and my son who is 29 and was diagnosed at 18 has no treatment other than a fortnightly Risperadol injection. He lives with me – thank goodness – so at least I do not have the worry of him living on the streets or in care. In that time he has seen a psych professional twice, each visit lasted no longer than 5 minutes.

    • anonymous says:

      Yes, I missed out on signing this petition also. Of course I would have done so. I believe health, especially mental health funding and more recognition of alternative health and it's therapies to be one of my biggest issues for government. There are millions of people who would like to be healthier but are restricted by finances…..I am a carer of someone who has attempted suicide numerous times because they cannot cope with the constant chronic pain they are in, and having to wait for orthopaedic surgery (because she is not rich, she is told she just has to wait.) Medication is not cutting it. Doctors are not making her better. If only this government invested more resources into getting people better and more healthy, rather than wasting it on keeping people ill, or the things that keep people ill. So much money is wasted by governments. Money that could be saving people's lives.

      How many people have died or committed suicide because they just couldn't wait any more and they couldn't cope with the pain any more. This health system we have is a joke……… Fine, so we can go and see a doctor for free if we are poor but that doctor is not going to cure a person's illness or guarantee them the operation they need or the help they need. What's the point of that? Quality health services are ONLY available to the RICH…! Quality health services should be available to EVERYONE.

  • Lisa says:

    As someone who has suffered from anxiety and was yesterday diagnosed with depression, it is great to see that steps are being taken and that the public are so behind mental health reform. I just hope that the system is changed. I think many still have many incorrect pre-conceived ideas around depression and I myself am coming to terms with these at the moment. Thanks everyone for getting behind this great initiative.

  • Lucinda says:

    It is pleasing to see this reported and that the issue has not been lost in the handover. Mental health issues touch everyone – whether in oneself, in relatives or in the workplace. It is likely that most people will kno w of someone – whether through a colleague who has had a close one commit suicide, a neighbour who battles depression, or indeed is aware of reckless behaviour in others. Medication is one form of treatment.Psychotherapy as it is needed, whether short term or long term can be effective in many cases. And in the case of serious and ongoing psychiatric disorders, work with the family can do much to assist. And of course counselling and psychotherapy with couples can do much to prevent family breakdown – whether the couple stay together or not.

    Building the capacity to understand one’s emotional world, learning to understand that of others around us is crucial to developing a civilised community.

  • Anna says:

    To all who believe they have 'missed out' on signing the petition campaign: YOU ARE NOT TO LATE TO JOIN!!!

    Go to

    There is a new aim to get 125,000 names – and let's not stop there.

    Tell everyone you know.


    To the governments of Australia, the people of Australia and all those who call this beautiful country home: it is time to wake up! It is time to have equal, quality care for mental and physical illness, which is age-appropriate and need-based.


    This affects all of us in some way.

    Perhaps if we all wore red to show each other just how many are connected to the sufferings of mental illness in this country, then those in parliament would 'see red' and do something….immediately!

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