Mental health is too important to debate
No mention of mental health in this week's final Leaders' Debate.
With less than 10 days to go until the polls close, the last week of the election campaign promises to see a further flurry of announcements, ads and ad-hoc photo ops all over the nation.
At the start of this campaign we undertook to keep you informed of all the mental health announcements and commentary, and we have certainly heard some talk about the importance of mental health to our nation ahead of this election. It’s clearly a topic that is often mentioned by many candidates including the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition.
Mental health is certainly an increasing part of the current political discourse and clearly part of social discourse.
But for all the announcements so far, almost all are specific to certain communities and electorates, and are concerned with individual programs, rather than systemic mental health reform. The program announcements are welcome, but they do not constitute system wide solutions for both the short and long term.
As a nation we are more and more prepared to not only talk about mental health, but to also look for community based solutions to improve our systems and service delivery. Improve things with and for those consumers and carers who need it most.
Beyond Saturday 18 May, whatever the result, we are still going to have a lot of work to do.
For me, that work starts with trying to harness the cross party recognition and rhetoric to achieve real mental health reform. To try to further unite politicians on all sides to achieve the common good.
And that’s probably the reason mental health didn’t feature in this week's debate. Because the debate on April 29 showed us it’s an issue that both parties agree on. There is no debate.
“…To ensure we continue to invest in the essential services… the mental health services in particular, taking on the biggest challenge I think we have; that is of youth suicide around this country.”
Scott Morrison, Leaders’ Debate April 29 2019
“I respect Scott for more than just he's a politician. I actually think on the topic of mental health, I've listened carefully to his words and I think he does have a view about that topic. I mean that's a really important topic… on mental health, Scott, I reckon you're doing good work and I look towards us working our policies more closely together.”
Bill Shorten, Leaders’ Debate April 29 2019
Our challenge now is to turn this 'non-debate' into clear agreement and unified action on lasting mental health reform.
Chief Executive Officer
Mental health announcements so far...
Next week we’ll drill down into the final few days of the campaign and how the major parties have responded to our 2019 Election Asks. For now, see below a summary of the many announcements so far.
April 13: Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention
“Our $503.1 million Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan is the largest suicide prevention strategy in Australia’s history. It will ensure that government activities are coordinated, services are delivered to young Australians at risk and support is available for friends and families.”
Plan focuses on:
- Strengthening the headspace network,
- Indigenous suicide prevention,
- Early childhood and parenting support.
April 16: New headspace for Katoomba
“The Morrison Government will establish a new headspace in Katoomba to provide innovative mental health support for young Australians in the Blue Mountains.”
April 20: Strengthening Australia’s World-Class Health System
“The Morrison Government’s ‘Plan for Strengthening Australia’s World Class Health System’ will guarantee Medicare, deliver record bulk billing, an additional $31 billion for hospitals over the next five year agreement, $40 billion for new medicines and research backed by our $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund.”
The Liberal Health policy: https://www.liberal.org.au/our-plan-strengthening-australias-world-class-health-system
April 23: $2 million for the National LGBTI Health Alliance
“The Morrison Government will provide an additional $2 million to the National LGBTI Health Alliance over two years for the peer support telephone and online support service, QLife.”
April 24: Northern Territory health plan
“Funding for Northern Territory public hospitals will triple from $152 million in 2012-13 to $306 million in 2019-20 and further to $467 million in 2024-25, under a new hospitals agreement. We are investing $4.1 billion in Indigenous health over four years, there is record bulk billing in the Northern Territory and more than 2000 new medicines have been subsidised through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.”
May 1: More support for older Australians
“The Morrison Government will continue to prioritise better support for older Australians by investing in a new targeted research centre, funding a new program to combat loneliness while ensuring the aged care workforce meets growing demand in the future.”
May 4: Record investment into Queensland health services
“The Morrison Government is investing an additional $100 million to support south east Queensland patients with new cancer and mental health services and critical hospital infrastructure.”
May 8: National Action Plan to Improve the Health of Children and Young People
“The Liberal Government launched the first National Action Plan for the Health of Children and Young People 2020-2030 which will improve children and young people’s health by focusing on healthy upbringing, prevention, addressing risky behaviours and childhood mental health.”
- The strategy will:
- Improve health equity across populations
- Empower parents to maximise healthy development
- Tackle mental health and risky behaviours
- Address chronic conditions and preventive health
- Strengthen the health workforce.
April 17: Labor to invest in community mental health in Higgins
Labor announce $4 million investment in new Star Health Mental Health Community Hub in Prahran
April 18: Labor’s health plan for the NT
“A Shorten Labor Government will upgrade mental health facilities, fund the purchase of a new Careflight helicopter for Darwin Hospital, and fund major improvements to remote health services as part of a $92 million Northern Territory health package.”
April 23: Labor to establish headspace centre in Gilmore
Labor candidate for Gilmore, Fiona Philips, announced the plan for a headspace centre in Batemans Bay
April 27: Labor pledges $12 million for youth drug and alcohol treatment
“A Federal Labor investment of $12 million will enable the Ted Noffs Foundation to expand its drug and alcohol treatment services for young people.”
April 29: Labor will invest in specialist care for intellectual disability
“A Shorten Labor Government will improve the health of people with intellectual disability with a $9.5 million investment to tailor health care to their needs.”
May 4: Labor will boost resources for Kids Helpline
“A Shorten Labor Government will provide $6 million to Kids Helpline to ensure that children and young people across Australia can access 24/7 free national counselling and support services.”
May 5: Filling the gaps in our youth mental health system
“A Shorten Labor Government will invest nearly $200 million in headspace Plus – improving youth mental health services and ensuring young Australians don’t fall through the cracks in Australia’s mental health system.”
May 7: Labor will invest in mental health and suicide prevention reform
“A Shorten Labor Government will invest over $1 billion to drive vital mental health and suicide prevention reform.”
Media Release not available online
May 7: Labor will create Australia’s first national plan for eating disorders and body image research
“A Shorten Labor Government will commit $20 million to create Australia’s first National Plan for Eating Disorders and Body Image Research.”
Media Release not available online
The Australian Greens
18 April: Greens launch transformative youth mental health policy
- Make services effective, transparent and accessible
- Improve access to online services
- Support young people to help other young people with peer to peer services through providing 1,000 places for peer to peer workers and opportunities for young people to train as peer workers through our free TAFE initiative.
- Improve services for young people in crisis by providing $250 million over four years in grant funding for community-based assertive outreach programs targeted at children and young people and improve access to face-to-face services by providing $25 million over the next four years for a trial of 50,000 children and young adults to each access 10 group sessions of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.
- Support young people in the workplace by expanding the Individual Placement and Support trial.
- Reduce mental health stigma by investing $10 million in a youth mental health stigma strategy.
Full policy: https://greens.org.au/sites/default/files/2019-04/Greens%202019%20Policy%20Platform-Youth%20Mental%20Health.pdf
23 April: Greens launch plan for universal mental health system
- Make services effective, transparent and accessible.
- Fund prevention and early intervention through $500 million in funding over the next decade for communities to implement assertive outreach programs, providing $25 million for a four year trial of 50,000 children and young people to each access 10 group sessions of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and fund online Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for a total of one million users.
- Support people with severe mental ill health by building a fully funded and adequately staffed NDIS and provide an additional $450 million for community psychosocial services.
- Build mentally healthy workplaces through providing $604 million over the decade for mental health workplace interventions in smaller businesses and $50 million per year for three years for mental health interventions in larger businesses and expanding the existing Individual Placement and Support trial.
- Increase the numbers of peer workers by providing $166 million to fund a two-year national peer workforce trial with 1,000 places.
- Reduce mental health stigma through an anti-stigma campaign involving those with lived experience.
Full policy: https://greens.org.au/sites/default/files/2019-04/Greens%202019%20Policy%20Platform-%20World%20Class%20Mental%20Health.pdf
29 April: Greens call for Newstart and Youth Allowance raise
In response to Anglicare Australia’s Rental Affordability Snapshot, Greens release announcement calling for increase to Newstart and Youth Allowance
Congratulations to new Suicide Prevention Australia Chair Angela Emslie
Congratulations to Angela Emslie, newly appointed Chair of Suicide Prevention Australia. We look forward to continuing to work with Suicide Prevention Australia under Angela's leadership, and wish outgoing Chair Matthew Tukaki all the best for the future.
COAG NDIS Quarterly Report
The National Disability Agency has released the COAG NDIS Quarterly Report for the period January 1 to March 31, 2019. You can read the report here.