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Catholic Health highlights Govt shame on mental health

Catholic Health Australia CEO Francis Sullivan has told a Mental Health Council gathering that Commonwealth, State and Territory governments have "become complacent" and "not held their side of the bargain" on "real" mental health reform.

He told the public release of the Mental Health Council of Australia's findings from its consultations on the Second National Mental Health Plan that the fact that over 60% of people with a mental disorder go without a proper service is "shameful".

"Governments have been quick to close down facilities, but very slow to reinvest in new, adequate community based support services," he said. "Mental health budgets have not been expanded to meet the real levels of demand and far too often the voices of those with mental illness have been drowned out by more powerful and wealthy health lobbies."

Mr Sullivan said the public confidence is being eroded as people with mental illness are either left abandoned in the community or are pushed from one over-stretched and unsuitable service to another.

"Governments of all persuasions will be quick to point to their strategies of community health care, public awareness campaigns and consumer involvement in service planning," he said. "But they have failed to keep pace with other countries where mental health budgets almost double the proportion spent here in Australia."

Mr Sullivan stressed that complacency should be avoided at all costs, and the "real reform requires real commitments". He specified that the commitment means the governments meeting to work out real term increases in new funding with agreed shares between the different levels of government.

Catholic Health Australia

Catholic Health Australia
Mental Health Council of Australia | Consultation: National Mental Health Plan 2003-08

14 Apr 2003