CEO Update - If we act on this report, we will save lives - Investing to Save

Shortly after the official launch of Investing to Save this week, we learned the report was already being discussed in mental health and economic circles internationally…So much so, that the team at KPMG has started to prepare a presentation for a conference in Europe next month, and closer to home the feedback on the data and evidence reported has been extremely positive.

Nearly 12 months ago, when we first started this project and KPMG offered to help us with the challenge of developing best evidence for investment in mental health, we knew it was a big task. But we also knew it would provide us all with the economic reasoning, and clout, to push for mental health reform in key areas. Areas that make a difference.

As our Chair Jennifer Westacott said in her speech launching Investing to Save on Tuesday, the number one saving we are talking about in this report, is saving lives. This report is starting point for action. A starting point for action and further advocacy based on sound economic modelling .

We all understand the human and social benefits of caring for people with mental illness experiencing homelessness, but you only have to look as far as Recommendation 2.1 Housing First for 15-24 year olds to see the financial savings possible.

For every $1 spent on Housing First models, $3 is generated in the short term (1-2yrs) and $6.70 is generated in the longer term (3+yrs) – this is supported by a strong evidence base that Housing First models work.

So if we act on something that we know works - that is supported by strong evidence and that we now know will deliver economic benefits - not only will we save money, we will also save lives by providing 15-24 year olds with safe, secure housing and a better chance to contribute to their community.

To act on this report, and unleash its true value, we now have a lot of work to do. Work that we’ve been undertaking for some time advocating for better and more targeted investments, and work that we will also now be able to measure, both short and long term.

The true success of a report like this, is to produce something that we can all use, and keep going back to for shaping strategy, reinforcing existing experience and knowledge, for exploring new investments and evidence, and ultimately, for helping us advocate for the right reform.

If you haven’t yet had the time to read Investing to Save I encourage you to so. And if you have read it, thank you, but I’d encourage you to read it again because it’s worth the time to fully appreciate the value of the evidence and modelling now available to us all.

KPMG has produced this report for the mental health sector, of an international standard, on a completely pro-bono basis, and for that we are extremely grateful.

I would especially like to thank Andrew Dempster, Chris Schilling and the KPMG project team for all their hard work on Investing to Save as well as the Mental Health Australia policy team led by Josh Fear, alongside Belinda Highmore and Emma Coughlan for their expertise and commitment.

As Jennifer said in her speech on Tuesday, which you can watch here, we are all now the custodians of this report, and it is up to us to act on it, and advocate for it. A job we’ve started to do already. And a job that will save lives.

Warm regards,

Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer

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Investing to Save, mental health reform, housing first, young people, mental health economics, KPMG