Full Mental Health Report Must Be Released And High Priority Given To Rural Services


Local MPs Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones joined Federal Labor today in calling on the Abbott Government to end its stalling and release the full report of the National Mental Health Commission’s Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services.


Sharon Bird said that the leak of the executive summary is no doubt due to intense frustration that the Government has been sitting on the report since December 1 last year.


“Tony Abbott and his Health Minister, Susan Ley, must release the report in full and conduct a formal consultation process with the community to improve people's understanding of the current situation but also to find solutions. 


“The leaked executive summary is spot on when it says that the system needs to be better integrated with improved reporting and accountability on outcomes, particularly in relation to people who are living with chronic mental health conditions.


“We support the need for better resourcing and structuring of community-based mental health services and a focus on primary care as the frontline in tackling mental illness.


“But more hospital cuts are not the answer. This government is already cutting $57 billion out of hospitals, while at the same time trying to rip billions of dollars out of primary care. Mental health funding at all levels – community-based, primary and for hospitals – should be ring-fenced, not cut.


Stephen Jones said that mental health services in rural and regional Australia must not be left out the conversation.


“People living in the bush face a unique set of challenges, needs and health determinants. These need to be carefully considered; because when it comes to addressing mental health reform we can’t adopt a one size fits all approach.


“Several weeks ago Monash University released the findings of a ground-breaking study into our mental health services. They found that people living in our cities experience three times better access to psychological services than people living in the bush and disadvantaged parts of metropolitan areas.


“The study confirmed what many experts have long warned - those that need help the most aren’t getting it. The reasons are simple - mental health services simply haven’t increased in rural, regional and remote areas like they have in our cities.


“Before he promised no cuts to health, the Prime Minister promised not to cut mental health services or to shift anyone’s preferred place of mental health treatment and care. But Tony Abbott broke his promise on health cuts.


“He needs to honour his promise on mental health services and make sure that mental health in the bush is a high priority.”