Mental Health Matters - Updates on Reform from the Minister for Mental Health - October
An update on reform from the Minister for Mental Health.
View by date:Previous Ministers
PDF printable version of Mental Health Matters - Updates on Reform from the Minister for Mental Health - October (PDF 19 KB)
It’s been more than twelve months since I was appointed Australia’s first Commonwealth Mental Health Minister. Following Mental Health Week it’s timely to provide an update on mental health reform.
Delivering the Mental Health Reform PackageYou would be aware that the Prime Minister stated last year that mental health reform would be a priority for this term of government. In the 2011-12 Budget the Gillard Government provided Australia’s largest ever investment in mental health through. Details of this package can be found at the Department of Health and Ageing website.
This package of reforms will fundamentally change the mental health system. It will provide greater access to mental health services as well as social support, housing, education and employment services for people with a mental illness.
The package intentionally looks at mental illness as more than just a health issue and includes initiatives to improve economic and social participation for people with a mental illness. It also expands community mental health services, including family support and respite services. The new National Mental Health Commission will be crucial to supporting this approach.
The Delivering Mental Health Reform Package is also balanced to take action across a person’s life and the spectrum of mental illness they may face during their life. It has a strong focus on prevention and early intervention, acknowledging the early age of onset for mental illness and current barriers to accessing help. Arguably most importantly, this package also signals the Gillard Government’s commitment to ongoing mental health reform through a range of measures.
Council of Australian Governments (COAG)A number of these ongoing measures were progressed at the COAG meeting on 19 August. As part of the meeting, the Prime Minister, Premiers and Chief Ministers were briefed by leading mental health experts Pat McGorry, David Cappo and Frank Quinlan about the challenges facing mental health in Australia - a rare but significant event.
COAG agreed to develop a new National Partnership Agreement on Mental Health to help address major gaps in our mental health system. Through this new partnership the Gillard Government will provide $200 million over five years to the States and Territories to help address service gaps in accommodation support and improving presentation, admission and discharge planning and support for people with a mental illness who frequently present at emergency departments.
The Prime Minister also secured COAG’s agreement to develop a 10-year Roadmap for mental health reform. The Roadmap will chart what Australia’s mental health system should look like in ten years, setting out the priorities and sequencing of reforms across a range of government services.
It was agreed that COAG would consider both the National Partnership and the Roadmap by the end of 2011.
Officials from the Commonwealth are also currently in discussion with officials from State and Territory Governments regarding the roll out of new early psychosis services for young people.
The National Mental Health CommissionAt the heart of the long term reform efforts in the Delivering Mental Health Reform Package is the establishment of the National Mental Health Commission. I recently announced the appointment of Professor Allan Fels as the inaugural Chair of the Commission and I will soon be in a position to announce the remaining Commissioners. The Commission will be based in Sydney and Robyn Kruk has been working hard as the CEO designate to ensure the Commission is well on its way to being established by January 2012.
The Commission will play a key role in the Government’s commitment to long-term reforms in mental health and will:
- manage and administer the Annual National Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention;
- monitor and report on the performance of the mental health system including through ongoing evaluation of the Ten Year Roadmap for Mental Health Reform which is currently being developed;
- develop, collate and analyse data and reports with a particular focus on ensuring a cross sectoral perspective is taken to mental health reform;
- provide mental health policy advice to Government in consultation with relevant agencies; and
- engage consumer and carers in mental health policy and service improvements.
I know that there is a lot of interest in the Commission and we will be continuing to consult the mental health sector, including consumers and carers, about the role of the new Commission.
ConsultationI recently asked The Mental Health Council of Australia to host a number of workshops to inform the Government’s implementation of the Delivering Mental Health Reform Package. These focused on the Commission, the Roadmap and the new Partners in Recovery Initiative of coordination and flexible funding for people with very severe, persistent mental illness and complex needs (what we formally referred to as the coordinated care measure). Reports from these workshops will be available on the Mental Health Council’s website soon.
The Government recognises the importance of ongoing consultation; that’s why a number of new or updated advisory groups have been established, including: e-mental health, Indigenous Mental Health, ATAPS, Indigenous Suicide Prevention and a soon to be announced group to advise on the new $549 million Partners in Recovery Initiative. I recently also asked the AGPN to host a consultation on this initiative.
The Mental Health Expert Working Group will continue to meet until the end of the year and I have in the last month announced the re-appointment of the Australian Suicide Prevention Advisory Council. I also recently announced that the Children’s Expert Advisory group, to advise on the social and emotional wellbeing content in the new 3 year old healthy kids check, would be chaired by respected paediatrician, Professor Frank Oberklaid.
I have also sought to ensure that in all of these consultations the voices of consumers and carers are heard. I met recently again with the Consumer and Carer Forum of Australia and participated in another online consultation, hosted by the Inspire Foundation, with young mental health consumers. A report from this consultation will be available on the Inspire Foundation’s website soon.
Better AccessOne of the things that I know a range of people are concerned about is the changes to the Better Access program. Further information about these changes can be found at the Department of Health and Ageing website.
There is currently a Senate Inquiry underway that has considered the package, including changes to Better Access. The changes will come into effect on 1 November. The Government hasn’t taken the decision to make changes to Better Access lightly, but we believe that Australians should have access to the right care for their needs. These changes mean that new services, better targeted services and more effective services will be available to better ensure that this happens.
Mental Health and InsuranceDuring my consultations with consumers and carers around Australia late last year, barriers for people with mental illness in accessing different types of insurance was raised a number of times.
As such, I asked the Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services, Bill Shorten, to put this issue on the agenda for the first meeting of the Insurance Reform Advisory Group (IRAG) on 5 September.
With the help of the Mental Health Council of Australia, Beyond Blue and the Human Rights Commission, it was agreed that government, the insurance industry and the mental health sector will work together to improve insurance options for people with mental illness in the following areas:
- Improving and increasing education and awareness about mental health and insurance processes for: consumers and carers; insurance, superannuation and financial planning sector staff; mental health professionals; and the general community
- Standardising mental health conditions and how they are categorised for the insurance industry
- Development and adoption of voluntary guidelines
- Development of a more effective complaints process.
It’s been a big year for mental health reform and there is more to come. I hope you have found this update useful and I am always happy to hear from you by contacting me at: Email Minister Butler
Mark Butler MP
Minister for Mental Health and Ageing
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Mental Health Reform
When accessing large documents (over 500 KB in size), it is recommended that the following procedure be used:
- Click the link with the RIGHT mouse button
- Choose "Save Target As.../Save Link As..." depending on your browser
- Select an appropriate folder on a local drive to place the downloaded file
Attempting to open large documents within the browser window (by left-clicking)
may inhibit your ability to continue browsing while the document is
opening and/or lead to system problems.
To view PDF (Portable Document Format) documents, you will need to have a PDF reader installed on your computer. A number of PDF readers are available through the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) Web Guide website.