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NFPs Call for Release of Mental Health Review

15 April 2015 at 10:55 am
Xavier Smerdon
Key mental health Not for Profits have called for the full release of the leaked National Mental Health Commission’s Review into Australia’s mental health services.

Xavier Smerdon | 15 April 2015 at 10:55 am


NFPs Call for Release of Mental Health Review
15 April 2015 at 10:55 am

Key mental health Not for Profits have called for the full release of the leaked National Mental Health Commission’s Review into Australia’s mental health services.

Executive Director of Anglicare Australia, Kasy Chambers has joined other leaders in the mental health sector in calling for the full document to be released after the report’s executive summary was leaked to the ABC.

The leaked report commissioned by the Federal Government recommends redirecting more than $1 billion in funding from acute hospital care to community-based mental health services.

Former Health Minister Peter Dutton received the document in November 2014 but the review is yet to be made public.

“This review was promised by the Government in the lead up to its election, and was completed at the end of last year,” Chambers said.

“Before the Government makes any major decisions on mental health, we should all be able to consider the recommendations of this review.

“Like all national policy conversations, it is vital that the people who will be most profoundly affected are central to the conversation. That’s not just about being respectful. It’s also about making the best decisions.

“It may be the government plans to take some action in this year’s Budget. It should release this review now so we can consider its findings in good time.”

Mental health charity SANE Australia called for national leadership on mental health reform from all Governments and all political parties.

“The time for leadership and action to reform the mental health system has arrived,” SANE Australia CEO Jack Heath said.

“All levels of Government need to get on with the job of creating a mental health system that provides the appropriate supports and services to people when and where they need it.

‘To do this we need determined leadership at a national level, backed by strong support across all political parties – this is one issue where we should be able to work together free of politics.”

Heath urged the Federal Government to release the National Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services in full, as well as its response to the review, as a matter of urgency.

“Later this week, when Federal Minister Sussan Ley meets with her State counterparts, she should lead the charge and call for a concerted national effort to fix the ‘fundamental structural shortcomings’ in the mental health sector, as identified by the Commission,” Heath said.

“We need to put in place a 10-year reform strategy which sets clear targets and indicators to drive systemic change in the mental health system.”

Heath said SANE Australia supports Professor John Mendoza’s call for a National Mental Health Reform Compact.

“The National Compact should also include a clear commitment to increase funding for community-based mental health care but not at the expense of acute services that are currently struggling.  We need to shift the funding mix but only over time,” he said.

Heath said that despite the Federal Health Minister’s announcement of $300 million in mental health funding last week, there remains great uncertainty as to which specific programs will be funded.   

“No business or organisation can operate effectively if it does not have security around ongoing funding. We need the Federal Government to provide clarity regarding funding in both the immediate and longer term so that, together, we can build a mental health system Australia can be proud of,” he said.

The National Mental Health Commission released a statement after the document was leaked saying that there was a need for strong partnerships between the Commonwealth and the States and Territories to address serious mental health issues in this country over the long term.

"While the Review Report has not yet been formally released, the Commission considers that there should be no reduction in Commonwealth money going into States and Territories. However, better coordination and more efficient use of expenditure is needed to help achieve better outcomes for individuals, families, communities and the Australian economy,” Commission Chair Professor Allan Fels said.

"Redirecting Commonwealth funding over time from growth in hospital funding to community and primary health care is consistent with directions presented in mental health reviews and reports over the past 40 years. This could commence in two years’ time to allow for adequate planning.

"The aim is to put additional funds into services which keep people out of hospital, take the pressure off state and territory hospitals and emergency departments, keep people in their homes with their families and other support people, enable them to lead contributing lives and maximise value for taxpayers.

"Part of this includes working with the states and territories to better coordinate roles and funding arrangements in mental health and suicide prevention, but certainly not to reduce the part the States and Territories play.

"We are confident that when the Government releases the full report there will be an opportunity for Government and mental health experts to work together to improve the lives of millions of Australians.”


Xavier Smerdon  |  Journalist  |  @XavierSmerdon

Xavier Smerdon is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector. He writes breaking and investigative news articles.


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