Mental Health Programs Under Threat
24 March 2015 at 11:22 am
Australia’s mental health Not for Profits have sent an open letter to the Prime Minister and the Health Minister urging them to end the uncertainty around Federal funding for hundreds of contracts that have not been guaranteed after June 30.
Peak body Mental Health Australia has delivered a letter calling on the Commonwealth take urgent action to ensure continuity of services and programs for Australians who live with mental illness.
The letter includes 70 signatures from key mental health organisations including Headspace, the Black Dog Institute, Suicide Prevention Australia, R U OK and SANE Australia.
The letter reads: “We have not received any definitive advice regarding the future of programs.”
“Some agencies have indicated that without this advice, they will have to give staff notice of termination of employment in a matter of days.
“This ongoing uncertainty is causing a huge disruption to organisations and increasingly, deep anxiety amongst the people they serve.”
“Right now, hundreds of contracts for community based mental health services and programs funded by the Department of Health are due to end 30 June 2015,” Mental Health Australia CEO Frank Quinlan said.
“While we understand the Government will be formulating its response to the National Mental Health Commission’s Review of Mental Health Services and Programmes, the continued uncertainty has now reached crisis point.
“Services have already begun to shut down, and some staff have left to take up more secure positions. Certainty of funding is desperately needed so that community organisations can continue their important work.”
In 2014 the Federal Government asked the National Mental Health Commission to conduct a national review of mental health programmes and services.
This review examined existing mental health services and programs across all levels of Government, and the private and non-government sectors. The final report has now been delivered to the Federal Government but no date has been set for its release.
Health Minister Susan Ley told ABC news the report would be released soon and the Government was finalising immediate funding arrangements as part of its commitment to give mental health organisations certainty as soon as possible.
“In my consultations with mental health organisations, I have been highly conscious of the need for certainty and we’re committed to working with the sector to continue delivering frontline services to those who need it,” Ley said.
The full letter can be found here.