Stung by criticism that the Gillard Government has not delivered promised mental health reforms, the Minister for Mental Health, Mr Butler, has issued a manifesto of what is being done to “advance vital reforms in mental health”.
Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Shadow Minister for Mental Health, said it would be laughable if it were not so sad.
“Minister Butler says he has participated in more than 18 forums in cities and towns and learned that the community ‘expects us as a nation to do better by people with mental illness’.
“It does not take a single forum to know this,” Senator Fierravanti-Wells said. “This Government is very well informed when it comes to mental health with review after review outlining the service and workforce needs. Minister Butler even has his own expert panel to help guide him.
“Just last week the Minister admitted that not all people who need mental health services are accessing them.
“In 2006, the Coalition made a $1.9 billion investment in mental health. Now the Coalition has put up a plan to invest $1.5 billion into mental health. Leading mental health practitioners including former Australian of the Year, Professor Patrick McGorry, and Professor John Mendoza endorsed this policy. The Senate and the House of Representatives passed motions endorsing this policy and calling on the Government to make this investment.
“One of the senior members of the expert panel, Monsignor David Cappo, this past weekend called for investment of $2.4 billion into mental health. If this panel wants to play raise-the-stakes the public will be the winners.
“COAG Health proposals Mark I and Mark II both failed to address mental health. Indeed, mental health has been deferred to a later meeting of COAG.
“The time for talk has long passed, Minister. It is time to act. All those Australians affected by mental illness, their carers and their families can only hope this is so.”