The Gillard Government’s new mental health package is an illusion that appears to offer much more than it does.
“The sector has been begging for funds throughout the life of the Rudd and Gillard Labor governments,” said Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Shadow Minister for Ageing and Shadow Minister for Mental Health.
“In reality the Gillard Government is only providing $47.3 million in new funding for mental health in 2011-12, but cutting $62.8 million from existing programs. That’s hardly making mental health a second-term priority, as Ms Gillard promised.
“When you take into account the budget cuts over the forward estimates, it is clear there is some tricky accounting. It seems there may be only $583 million in new money over the next four years.
“Minister Butler needs to explain how many of the ‘new initiatives’ are actually ‘new money’ or simply recycled money and re-announcements.
“The Coalition has announced that it is will spend $1.9 billion on mental health. This is real money and offers targeted, strategic and real reform.
“The mental health plan appears to be tainted with the never-never brush of so many Gillard Government programs. Just for good measure, the government has embarked on a 10-year road map for mental health. With this timetable there is no onus on this government to deliver. The one in five Australians suffering mental health should rightly be appalled at the lack of commitment from the Gillard Government.
“Julia Gillard promised this would a year of decision and delivery. Sadly for those suffering from mental illness, all we are seeing is another hallmark smoke and mirrors trick from this Government.”