NFP’s Reaction Mixed on Labor’s Commitment to Mental Health
Tuesday, 27th July 2010 at 4:39 pm
Primary health care organisations have welcomed the Federal Government’s election commitment to invest of $276.9m into additional mental health services but the Australian of the Year, Prof Patrick McGorry has slammed the announcement.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the mental health funding package in a speech to the Community Economic Development Association in Brisbane.
However, Prof McGorry is reported as saying the commitment is just a drop in the ocean and does not reflect the blueprint the sector put to the Prime Minister before the election was called.
The Australian General Practice Network says it’s about time all political parties started focusing on primary health care and the benefits a strong, integrated system can bring to the community, particularly in areas such as primary mental health care.
AGPN Spokesperson, Dr Emil Djakic says the election commitment is a comprehensive package of primary mental health initiatives which builds on the evidence of what the sector knows already works and makes good use of the future Primary Health Care Organisations (PHCOs – called Medicare Locals) which are to evolve from the general practice network.
Funding commitments include:
• the additional $22.9m for the Access to Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS) program, delivered through PHCOs
• a further $22m for specialist psychiatric services, purchased through PHCOs
• from a funding pool of $60m PHCOs will be able to expand the Personal Helpers and Mentors Program, one of three non-clinical support services available within this funding arrangement
• the expansion of the mental health program for young people through Kidsmatter, to the tune of $19.6m
• the additional $24m for children with mental health and development issues, in which PHCOs can purchase psychological services at a community based level for local families
Chris Tanti, the CEO of the counselling service 'headspace' says the Prime Minister's proposed comprehensive package of measures to tackle suicide and promote better mental health will make a significant impact on the lives of many Australians, particularly young people and those at risk of taking their own lives.
Tanti says the new measures proposed by the Federal Government are an important step towards dealing with the difficulties being experienced by young Australians and applauds the inclusion of $22.3 million to boost online mental health and counselling services.
'Headspace' runs a Federally-funded pilot online counselling service in Western Australia – eheadspace – that provides young people with access to support if they are unable to uncertain about face-to-face mental health support.
Part of the Gillard Government's commitment is to invest $113.9 million to provide more frontline services in the community for people with severe mental illness.
Commencing in July next year, The Federal Government says the investment will include:
- $22.9 million to provide psychological counselling services for around 12,500 people each year who have attempted or are at risk of suicide, to help reduce repeated attempts at suicide.
- $22 million to improve access to specialist psychiatry services in the community for people with severe mental illness, by providing around 20,000 specialist psychiatry sessions in the community each year.
- $60 million to boost access to support services for the severely mentally ill. Examples include structured social activity, assistance with managing day to day activities, and critically – respite for carers of people with severe mental illness.
Opposition leader, Tony Abbott has already announced a Liberal election commitment of a $1.5 billion boost to the mental health sector, including 80 mental health treatment centres across Australia.