Politicians, of all persuasions, are guilty of paying lip service when it comes to urgently needed changes to Australia’s shambolic mental health system.

The recent Federal election campaign caused a hiatus in state governments’ introduction of any meaningful mental health strategies.

Australia is in dire need of coordination of our mental health system, involving input from all arms of government – federal, state and council.

White Wreath supports the recent call by Suicide Prevention Australia for the federal government to set up a body within the Department of Health to secure cross-portfolio approaches to suicide prevention.

As good as this move would be, it does not go far enough.

The National Mental Health Commission held an extensive review of mental health programmes and services, handing down its findings last year to the Federal Government.

One of the commission’s findings was: “Despite almost $10 billion in Commonwealth spending on mental health every year, there are no agreed or consistent national measures of whether this is leading to effective outcomes or whether people’s lives are being improved as a result.”

The response by then health minister Sussan Ley was a program of reforms to be rolled out over three years from this year until 2019.

These programs have been put on hold with the calling of the Federal election, the government going into caretaker mode..

It would have been obvious that the massive input by organisations and individuals into the Commission’s inquiry would have provided ample evidence of the state of the mental health system.

But that was not good enough for the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly, which decided in February this year to hold its own inquiry into youth suicide and self harm in the ACT.

I have lost count on the number of inquiries held over recent years by various governments into our mental health system.

Whenever mental health reform is mentioned to our politicians, their immediate reflexive action is to call for an inquiry.

What a waste of both time and money.

I would like to thank Lynny Mast, Warrnambool Victoria, for her tireless work in assisting White Wreath within her local area of Warrnambool Vic and Mount Isa Indigenous Men’s Group (Ngukuthati Men’s Shed) for organising the inaugural White Wreath Walk that was held on the 23 May and to all those that got involved with Wear White At Work that coincided with White Wreath Day – In Remembrance of All Victims of Suicide both held on the 29 May yearly.


Fanita Clark