Constituency Statements: Mental Health

I rise today to speak on behalf of people from my electorate of Bonner who have a mental illness and who are suffering under the inadequate arrangements in place to support people with mental illness in our community. As I mentioned in my speech on the appropriation bills recently, the government has announced a package of measures in its 2011 budget for funding mental health but, despite the headline figure of $2.2 billion, the government will spend only $583 million over the next four years. In the 2011-12 financial year, the total amount to be spent is only $47 million. The government is in fact cutting mental health by ripping $580.5 million from GP mental health services and allied health treatment sessions from the Better Access initiative. Like all things, the devil is in the detail. On this, the government has been exposed as a sham. I have had numerous constituents and health professionals contact me, concerned about whether this will affect existing patients and when the new measures will begin, none of which has been made clear by the government. This is detail we still need to know more about.
The coalition has led the way on mental health funding, with the announcement in 2006, when Tony Abbott was minister for health, of a $1.9 billion investment over five years in mental health. The coalition’s 2010 election policy was $1.5 million for mental health. This commitment would establish 20 early psychosis intervention centres in major metropolitan and regional areas, providing health care aimed at recovery and prevention of relapse; provide 800 beds for acute and subacute care, specifically to support the early psychosis intervention centres; and fund an additional 60 headspace sites, providing one-stop shops for young people with information and services relating to general health and wellbeing, mental health and alcohol and drug services. In April this year the coalition announced a further investment of $430 million for mental health. So it is incredibly disappointing to my constituents in Bonner that the government has ignored the will of both houses of parliament, which passed motions in October and November last year calling on the government to implement this policy.

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