“A stronger economy, a smarter nation and a fairer society” needs a longer term investment in mental health reform, May 2013

The Mental Health Council of Australia has described tonight’s federal budget as a missed opportunity to continue to build on much needed investment in mental health reform.

“If Australia hopes to achieve the Treasurer’s goal of building “a stronger economy, a smarter nation and a fairer society” then we need a longer term funded plan for investing in mental health reform,” Mental Health Council of Australia CEO Frank Quinlan said tonight.

“We understand that we are living in a tight fiscal environment, but this just underscores the need for a longer term plan for investment and reform. Real fiscal discipline requires spending on the things that matter in the lean years as well as the bountiful years.

“Spending on mental health reform is too important to be dependent on the short term rise and fall of international financial markets and political fortunes.

“The Mental Health Council of Australia is pleased to see that there have been no real cuts to mental health spending, but it is difficult to see how mental health reforms will be sustained without substantial investment every year for the next decade.

“We welcome the inclusion of mental health spending within the NDIS. This investment is genuinely transformative, substantially because it is sustained over such a long period of time.”

“Investments in the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program, Veteran’s Mental Health, victims of forced adoptions practices, and perinatal mental health are also welcome.”

Following the Budget, the Council asks all sides of politics to commit to long term mental health reform, ensuring a sustained approach for at least the next ten years.

“Australia has not forgotten the optimism and the heady commitments to mental health that were made by both sides of politics in 2010,” Mr Quinlan said.

“Australians living with mental illness are still experiencing stigma, are still struggling to find appropriate services and are still falling through the cracks.”

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