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Productivity Commission inquiry into mental health terms of reference

The Australian Government has released the terms of reference for the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into mental health and announced the appointment of an Associate Commissioner for the inquiry.

The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Former Minister for Health and Aged Care

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The Coalition Government has today released the terms of reference for the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into mental health and announced the appointment of an Associate Commissioner for the inquiry.

The inquiry will consider how mental illness can affect all aspects of a person’s quality of life including physical health, social participation, education, employment and financial status.

The terms of reference will include:

  • Examining the effect of supporting mental health on economic and social participation, productivity and the Australian economy;
  • Examining how sectors beyond health, including education, employment, social services, housing and justice can contribute to improving mental health and economic participation and productivity;
  • Examining the effectiveness of current programs and initiatives across all jurisdictions to improve mental health, suicide prevention and participation, including by governments, employers and professional groups;
  • Assessing whether the current investment in mental health is delivering value for money and the best outcomes for individuals, their families, society and the economy;
  • Drawing on domestic and international policies and experience, where appropriate; and
  • Developing a framework to measure and report the outcomes of mental health policies and investment on participation, productivity and economic growth over the long term.

To assist the Commission in undertaking this inquiry, Professor Harvey Whiteford has been appointed as an Associate Commissioner.

Professor Whiteford is a member of the National Mental Health Commission’s Advisory Board, Professor of Population Mental Health at the University of Queensland, and Professor of Global Health at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington.

He brings extensive experience to the role, having worked on mental health policy with the World Health Organisation, World Bank, OECD and governments in Europe, Africa and Asia.

The two Commissioners overseeing the inquiry are Dr Stephen King and Julie Abramson.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said: “The inquiry will be able to make recommendations as to how the Government can better support Australians living with mental illness, to enable them to lead fulfilling and contributing lives.”

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt said he has consulted with state and territory health and mental health ministers as well as the National Mental Health Commission to seek their views on the scope and terms of reference of the inquiry.

“The Commission will consult with Indigenous leaders including the National Mental Health Commission’s Professor Helen Milroy and Professor Ngiare Brown on their expertise,” Minister Hunt said.

“Four million Australians deal with some form of chronic or episodic mental health condition. As well as the individuals affected and people close to them, poor mental health also affects businesses, the hospital system, emergency services and social services.”

The Commission will take submissions and will hold public consultations, including in regional areas.

All interested parties, including carers and patients, are encouraged to participate.

The inquiry will begin immediately and is due to report to Government within 18 months.

The Federal Government will spend an estimated $4.7 billion this year on mental health. Once state and territory government funding is added to this, the investment in mental health rises to around $9 billion per year – that is equivalent to $1 million per hour – every hour of every day.

The terms of reference are available on the Commission's website.

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