Catholic agencies see way forward in mental health report

Catholic Welfare Australia has welcomed a senate report on mental health, saying it is a comprehensive and long overdue first step towards addressing Australia's mental health crisis.

Catholic Welfare Australia's Executive Director, Mr Quinlan, said that recommendations in the Senate Select Committee's Report, A National Approach to Mental Health - From Crisis to Community, highlight the plight of some of the most marginalised people in the community, many of whom do not have access to appropriate housing, income support or employment opportunities.

"The Report's recommendations provide a solid foundation for the Council of Australian Government's ongoing mental health action plan," Mr Quinlan said.

"Calls for substantial increases in mental health funding and the call for community-based mental health centres are certainly welcome.

"Access to appropriate housing, employment, income support and training must be central to a response to the current crisis. These most basic needs must be met if people facing mental health problems are to participate more fully in society," he said.

Mr Quinlan said he would also endorse tax incentives for businesses employing people with mental illness, increases in job support and increased funding for a homeless program.

"We look forward to the more detailed recommendations in the Committee's next report and hope that CoAG (Council of Australian Governments) will reflect the Committee's commitment to community consultation in its deliberations in the coming months," Mr Quinlan said.

Meanwhile Catholic Health Australia CEO Francis Sullivan commented in today's issue of his agency's Canberra Update policy briefing: "The (Senate) Report lays at the mercy of co-operative governments and generous political will."

"It is still disturbing to hear of the continual buck passing between levels of government when it comes to financing real initiatives and opportunities to improve the lot of the mentally ill," he said.

Although the Commonwealth is flagging a new investment into mental health care, it is vital that the states and territories match the initiative and that people who are ill and homeless do not become those who once again fall into the 'too hard' basket."

Mental Health Report - a way forward (CathNews 30/3/06)
Senate tables report on mental health services (Canberra Update / Catholic Health Australia 3/4/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
A national approach to mental health - from crisis to community (Senate Report 30/3/06)
Catholic Welfare Australia
Catholic Health Australia

Adelaide service focuses on global mental health problems (CathNews 13/2/06)
Cardinal calls mentally ill 'faithful images of God' (CathNews 10/2/06)

Mental health proposals a step forward, says reformer (ABC TV 7:30 Report 30/3/06)
Church agency calls for more consultation on mental health bill (Independent Catholic News 31/3/06)

3 Apr 2006