Mental Health System Overhaul Still Coming
6 October 2015 at 11:35 am
Australia’s mental health system is “disjointed and fragmented” and is allowing for people to fall through the cracks, but there is no timeline on major reform, according to the Federal Health Minister.
Despite expectations that Sussan Ley would use the beginning of Mental Health Week yesterday to announce an overhaul of the system, it was only revealed that the Government would move away from the current system.
Ley said following the recommendations by the National Mental Health Commission’s review of mental health services, a mental health Expert Reference Group was established, and had now presented their implementation plan.
“I have received the Expert Reference Group’s implementation plan, and am now finalising a significant reform package that will better support Australians to receive the most appropriate mental health care first time, when and where they need it,” Ley said.
“I will announce the Turnbull Government’s plans for mental health reform by the end of the year as we work to build the best system possible for Australian patients.”
Ley told the ABC that the current system was difficult to navigate, especially for people who are ill.
“We know it's not working,” she said.
“I will take proposals to Cabinet and after that we'll have announcements about what they will be, so, I'm not in a position to describe the new system, of course we're still finalising it.
“But I do want to say that it needs to be different from the previous one. And it needs to, for example, recognise that where somebody may go into hospital after a suicide attempt, when they leave hospital they're not left on their own, they do have somewhere to go, and they do have some follow-up.”
Shadow Minister for Health, Senator Jan McLucas, called the announcement “farcical”, saying more action was needed.
“This government has been in office for more than two years now – their lack of action on mental health reform has been appalling and has repeatedly disappointed Australians living with mental illness, their families and carers and the organisations that support them,” McLucas said.
“Despite ordering a comprehensive and wide ranging review into Australia’s mental health system, the Government has sat on the report since December last year, leaving mental health reform in a state of paralysis and the mental health sector without any certainty.
“The Government only responded to the National Mental Health Commission's review after it was embarrassingly leaked in April this year.
“Mental health is too important to be ignored by the Government in such a negligent and damaging way.”
The Chair of national youth mental health foundation headspace, Wendy McCarthy, was less scathing of the Government and welcomed its commitment to reform.
“The focus this Government has placed on Australia’s mental health services is critical and we support Minister Ley's dedication to a consultative and collaborative approach to national reform. The continued focus on the important area of early intervention in youth mental health is commendable,” McCarthy said.