I have been reading about the Diwali festival which has been a feature in our communities over the past week.
With light, candles and even fireworks this celebration represents the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil and wisdom over ignorance.
At Mental Health Australia we wish all those for whom this is a special time of the year a very happy Diwali.
Have you noticed that when the power goes out at night and you resort to using a candle, the light it throws is arresting? It’s like you can’t look away – even if its one of those tiny tea-light candles. I think there are certain people that have the same effect – they defy darkness and overwhelming ignorance and they shine with hope and strength. I want to acknowledge those who shine that light of hope and strength in my life, and I encourage you to do the same.
This week we saw a federal budget delivered with some important messages in it about the challenges we are facing together as a country, and equally important messages about where the government sees the priorities are for future investment. But if we were looking for long-awaited reform in mental health, we did not see it given that this budget was focused on delivering election promises and as you may recall there were few mental health-related commitments made.
Yet if we are looking for broader structural reform in the areas that we have been advocating for in relation to social determinants of health and mental health then there are some extremely positive signs: housing, First Nations health and wellbeing, cost of living, rural and regional health, aged care, climate, and the safety of women and children. We expect that these investments will build hope in the community for future action in areas that people tell us worry them the most. You can read our media release here and summary here.
As you know we have been advocating for action in the area of social determinants to prevent suicide, reduce distress, build informal connections and ignite optimism. We are developing our submission for the May 2023 Budget based on our reform agenda – that is, in addition to action in the social determinant’s space we desperately need expanded coherent community based mental health services for all ages and support needs, accessible across the country.
We look forward to informing the development of the proposed “wellbeing” budget measures. There must be transparency from government, and the shared accountability that comes with being real about whether effort and investment creates the change promised. We are looking for a mass of tea-lights.