Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, appointed to that role in January by Prime Minister Malcolm
Turnbull, faces a challenging time – mental health has passed the point of being in crisis and urgent
steps must be taken now.
Mr Hunt, in his first media conference as health minister, announced that he would highlight
mental health as an area of focus for the health portfolio and that intended to make it a “critical
path” in his new role.
White Wreath Association wrote in November last year to every Australian state and federal and
territory government regarding the disastrous state of Australia’s mental health/suicide hospital
facilities and sought an explanation on what programs and policies they had planned to ensure
mental health reforms that would advance better care for mental health patients.
Only three governments deigned to reply – Western Australia, Queensland and NSW
The cavalier, apathetic attitude of the other governments could be attributable to a misconception
that White Wreath Association does not warrant their attention as it is a Queensland organisation
and doesn’t come within their jurisdiction.
In fact, White Wreath Association is an Australia-wide organisation with members, including quite
a few members of parliament, in every state and territory.
Australia’s suicide rate is the highest it has been for at least 10 years. In 2015, 3027 people ended
their own lives in Australia. That’s 12.6 people in every 100,000. That’s more than eight people
every single day. One person every three hours.
All governments support the ridiculous lip-service recognition of the homeless by the once a year
sleeping in the streets publicity stunt. At the end of the day, this does nothing to help long-term
mental health sufferers.
Many of these homeless people are suffering from mental health problems, which is contributed to
by the lack of mental health facilities and people unable to get assistance from Centrelink in times
of hardship, such as losing jobs.
One of the services undertaken by White Wreath Association to people who have been affected by
suicide or suicide attempts by a loved one, is liaising with government departments, medical
professionals and local authorities to helping them get information and support in their area of
White Wreath Association has a strong network of support from the many individuals within these
departments and organisations who help ease the painful task of people handling bureaucratic red-
tape and indifference.
White Wreath Association is a non-denominational, non-political and anti-discriminatory
body supporting people who have been directly affected by suicide and those who are affected
by mental illness/disorders.
It does not receive any government funding and relies on public contributions to continue its
White Wreath Association has long advocated the formation of a federal mental health body
empowered to insist that all state government mental health programs are coordinated throughout
Australia and that before any “new” programs are approved that checks are made to see if they are
a duplication of existing services and ascertain if they have worked.
We issue a challenge to Minister Hunt to implement that legislation and make our dream come true.