April Update

I write from Canberra where more than 80 mental health representatives from 45 organisations across the country are gathering to urge Commonwealth politicians to recognise the mental health of Australians. We are at a cross roads and need bi-partisan support for:
– restoring and then increasing funding levels to keep pace with demand for mental health services over the medium term
– Urgently addressing the gaps that are opening up in the mental health service system
– urgent action to address unprecedented levels of funding uncertainty
– supporting consumer and carer engagement in order to build the consumer-centred mental health system of the future.

There are signs that our new Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, is listening and has announced 5 years of funding for Primary Health Networks which is a solid start to addressing issues of uncertainty.

However we still have a long way to go to fixing mental health.

MHCSA recently wrote to all South Australian based parliamentarians regarding the new gaps in psychosocial support that will inadvertently open up with defunding of mental health services as the NDIS rolls out. We wrote about the implications for people with mental illness in South Australia.

The key issue here is that the NDIS will concentrate psychosocial support to a relatively small cohort of 64,000 of the 230,000 Australians with severe mental illness. This will create a significant gap between the support available under the NDIS and what is available in the mental health system.

We need both Commonwealth and State governments to work together to fix this problem so that the two systems can work together for the benefit of people significantly impacted by their mental illness.

We also recently held a Leaders Forum and it was a great opportunity to explore the question of opportunities under NDIS for peer support. The keynote from Robyn Priest was challenging and thought provoking and was followed by presentations from two mental health NGO service providers who are reshaping their workforce and operations.

It is clear that mental health NGOs are keen to work together where possible to increase peer support under NDIS. It was once again highlighted that the environment of service provision in the NDIS space represents a quantum shift from the current environment.

Finally I’d like to draw your attention to an event we are partnering with Don Dunstan Foundation on. Called AdMental it is part of Public Health Week to be held on Wednesday 5th April at Bonython Hall from 6pm.

This event will see local advertising agencies pitch Gruen style their 30sec television commercial that will change the way we see mental health. Further details can be found in this month’s enews.

Geoff Harris
Executive Director

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