Reform of the nation’s mental health system has been proclaimed as a core policy of both our political parties.
The Liberal Party has promised “significant structural reform of the mental health system”, while the Labor Party has sign-posted “making mental health a national priority” and set a target of program delivery in its first 100 days.
Both parties have said they will implement recommendations of last year’s National Mental Health Commission’s lengthy review of mental health services.
The Federal Government’s Health Minister, Sussan Ley, announced in November last year a series of reforms to be rolled out over a three-year period between 2016 and 2019.
It is to be hoped the Government will start introducing these reforms before the next Federal election, which has to be called on or before January 14 next year.
If this is not done, Australian voters can be excused for doubting the validity of these so-called reforms.
In the 17 years, White Wreath Association has been formed I have lost count of the number of national inquiries into the mental health system.
They have all highlighted that existing mental health programs are fragmented and disjointed. All have promised major changes to build the best system possible for mental health patients.
After the kudos have been taken, the end result has been a diffusion of services and closure of mental health facilities.
An example of the money wasted on government inquiries into mental health is the Senate’s select committee on mental health report from 30 March 2006, titles a National Approach to Mental Health – From Crisis to Community.
Ten years later the issues have still not been resolved.
Going back to 2003, the Mental Health Council of Australia issued a report, “Out of hospital, Out of Mind”. The then Chairperson, Mr Keith Wilson, said the findings were that there was “poor government administration and accountability, lack of ongoing government commitment to genuine reform and failure to support the degree of community development required to achieve high quality mental health care outside institutions”
I cannot see that anything has changed for the better since then.
White Wreath Day – In Commemoration and Remembrance of All Victims of Suicide – and Wear White at Work Day will be held this year on 29 May. A gold coin donation to White Wreath Association is requested, please.