Amidst much fanfare, Greg Hunt announced yesterday that there would be an injection of more than $100 million into school mental health programs and a range of new Headspace centres.
Except I seem to recall:
DECEMBER 8 2014
Forty per cent of mental health agencies say they have already lost staff as a result of the uncertainty, while more than half report a reduction in services to their clients, according to a survey of 75 organisations which receive Commonwealth funding, conducted by Mental Health Australia.
Mental Health Australia chief executive Frank Quinlan said the typically short-term funding cycles for mental health programs, a lack of clarity about how the National Disability Insurance Scheme would affect funding arrangements, and a national review of existing mental health programs had combined to create a “perfect storm of indecision.”
Health Minister Peter Dutton would only confirm funding until the end of June.
28 May 2015
Young people will be turned away from clinics of popular youth mental health service Headspace because funding has been frozen, experts warn.
Documents obtained by the ABC show the federal Department of Health has told the centres their funding will not be indexed and it will remain the same for 2015-16.
Professor Ian Hickie from the Brain and Mind Research Institute, which runs one of Australia’s busiest Headspace centres at the University of Sydney, said he was worried young people would miss out on crucial mental health services.
“Because of the funds freeze in indexation, we are not able to replace clinical staff who have left in recent times,” he said. “We have had to make it clear to all staff that we cannot guarantee their positions over the next 12 months, pending resolution of the total amounts to be received from Headspace. These are staff directly employed under the Headspace grant to assess young people presenting with mental health difficulties.”
APRIL 29 2016
Leading mental health expert Patrick McGorry warns young people with early psychosis could become at greater risk of suicide, as the Turnbull government prepares to scrap funding for the specialist treatment program he helped establish.
The Department of Health told the centres this month that it had “decided to discontinue implementation of the Early Psychosis Youth Services (EPYS) model of care” in a letter obtained by Fairfax Media. The department will cut centres’ $156 million funding to 75 per cent this year, and down to 30 per cent next year.
June 21, 2016
Headspace CEO leaves in frustration as Turnbull government dismantles vital mental health initiative
THE Turnbull government is quietly dismantling the youth mental health initiative Headspace, according to its chief executive, who is leaving the organisation in frustration.
Chris Tanti, who was the foundation’s CEO when Headspace was created in 2006, says the federal government’s “bizarre” decision to stop funding Headspace directly and hand control to 31 Primary Health Networks (PHNs) over two years will effectively mean its demise.
“The regional PHNs may decide that they don’t want to invest the money in early intervention. The money’s not ring-fenced. It’s pretty devastating when we still haven’t actually completed the build of 100 centres. We’re at 94,” he said.
“We’ve had two positive evaluations and our early psychosis program is just establishing. We’re all happy to broaden our criteria to see additional young people with complex problems, but we can’t do that if the system is being dismantled.”
Mr Tanti on Wednesday agreed to accept a redundancy because the government has reduced its national office budget from $19 million to $8 million per annum next year, and $5 million the following year.
May 11, 2017
This week’s federal budget allocated A$115 million in new funding over four years. This is one of the smallest investments in the sector in recent years.
For instance, the Council of Australian Governments (CoAG) added more than $5.5 billion to mental health spending in 2006. The 2011-12 federal budget provided $2.2 billion in new funding.
This compounds a situation in which, in 2014-15, mental health received around 5.25% of the overall health budget while representing 12% of the total burden of disease.
We lack a coherent national strategy to tackle mental health. New services have been established this year, but access to them may well depend on where you live or who is looking after you. This is chance, not good planning.
So, whilst Mr Hunt’s announcement is welcome, he is offering less than we spent on the marriage equality postal survey thingy.
Excuse my cynicism but… is it an election year?
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