Leanne Beagley CEO Mental health Australia shares some thoughts about the report. This week the next piece of the reform puzzle was made public. The Select Committee for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention released their final report. Mental Health Australia welcomes this final report and congratulates the Committee on finalising its recommendations.
We know that many providers and sector leaders made submissions to the Committee and we look forward to hearing from members and stakeholders about your response to the final report. As you know, Mental Health Australia also provided a submission and appeared at the public hearings.
We note the welcome focus on workforce development, and the specific recommendation in the report to establish a national workforce institute to drive mental health workforce reform. Mental Health Australia has long called for this, and for the funding to establish a national professional association for lived experience (peer) workers as recommended by the Productivity Commission in 2020.
In addition to workforce developments, the focus in the recommendations includes some system changes (such as the independence of the National Mental Health Commission, better collaboration between Primary Mental Health Networks and Local Hospital Networks, five-year funding contracts for services, a review of what is commissioned nationally or locally, and proposed Medicare changes).
Further, it includes a focus on digital mental health, commissioning of services for priority population groups (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and LGBTIQ+), elevating mental health in Government processes (such as setting up a House Standing Committee on mental health, ensuring the Deputy Chief Mental Health Officer is present at crisis meetings), and funding for research on compounding mental health impacts of disasters (with a link to climate change).
We note, however, a missed opportunity to recommend an increase in psychosocial services to meet acknowledged need as indicated by the Productivity Commission. This is disappointing as is a recommendation to establish a lived experience office within Government rather than establishing independent peak bodies for consumer and carer leadership.
The 2021-22 Federal Budget made a significant down-payment towards reform that have been welcomed by the sector. It is time now to get to work on the system reform required and recommended by every recent review, including this one.
With the release of this report, the Government now has further evidence to include in its plan to implement the Productivity Commission recommendations in full, and further evidence to inform the impending National Agreement for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. The link to the report can be found below.
Support: If you or someone you know needs support find a list of links here or call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467