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Catholic Health says Costello "calls it right" on mental health

Catholic Health Australia (CHA) yesterday welcomed Federal Treasurer Peter Costello's frank assessment of the failure in Australia's mental health services policy.

Speaking on Sydney radio station 2GB's Alan Jones program yesterday, Mr Costello agreed that mental health policy is failing and people are being left in dire and risky circumstances.

CHA CEO Francis Sullivan said it is "heartening to see at least one political leader admit that we have got the policy wrong on mental health and that it needs a re-think".

"On a daily basis Australians see the victims of this policy failure: homeless people isolated from services, exhausted families and carers, frustrated health professionals and young people facing the future with despair," he said. "For too long complacency and inertia have held back real investment in mental health services and in turn have denied people in dire need of assistance."

Mr Sullivan said that Australian governments spend less than 6.6% of health expenditure on mental health, whereas other OECD countries average up to 14%. He said New Zealand is reported to spend twice as much per capita as Australia with a smaller economy.

"It is absolutely confounding that in a country as prosperous as ours we still find up to 60% of people with a diagnosed mental disorder fail to receive the appropriate care," said Mr Sullivan. "Both major parties must produce a comprehensive and substantial investment and services development policy and plan to support their bona fides to govern."

Federal Treasurer Calls It Right On Mental Health (Catholic Health Australia 23/9/04)

Both sides to focus on mental illness (Sydney Morning Herald 24/9/04)
Mentally ill, aged 'need new strategy' (The Australian 24/9/04)
Catholic Health Australia

24 Sep 2004