Long game of mental health recovery can't be played with short contracts

4 May 2022


Short-term government funding contracts for community-managed mental health services are making it almost impossible to provide the programs required to support and empower the tens of thousands of Canberrans living with mental health conditions.


“Community-managed mental health services in the ACT have been telling Commonwealth governments for years that funding contracts need to be long term,” said Mental Health Community Coalition ACT CEO Bec Cody.


“This is an issue across the Canberra community sector, with ACT organisations having some of the shortest contracts in the country.”


In 2020, the Productivity Commission recommended a five-year minimum contract term for psychosocial support programs to ensure availability and continuity of care. However, a new Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) report found that only 14% of community sector organisations in the ACT had a government contract of at least five years’ duration. For over a third of organisations, their longest contract was under three years.


Although the ACT Government has committed to increasing the length of contracts with the community sector and is in the process of implementing this as part of its new commissioning model, no such commitment has been made at the Federal level.


“Mental health recovery isn’t about short-term fixes but long-term support,” Ms Cody said.


“Community-managed mental health services want to be there throughout that process, to help people manage their physical, social and mental health needs so they can create and live a meaningful and contributing life in their community.”


“But short-term contracts divert resources from delivering and improving services to re-tendering, and make it difficult to plan programs and recruit and retain staff. Sadly, many providers end up without sufficient time or capacity to deliver the full services that help people with complex mental health conditions to recover,” Ms Cody said.


“At a time when the sector is looking at a funding black hole, with no commitment to Federal funding for psychosocial services after June 2023, we need a commitment to long-term, sustainable funding for the community-managed mental health sector. Let us get on with our important work and help more Canberrans recover and live well.”


Links:

Media Contact: Angel Hellyer, Communications and Events Manager, 02 5104 7713 | Angel.Hellyer@mhccact.org.au


MHCC ACT is the peak body for community mental health services in the ACT.  Find out more about MHCC ACT atwww.mhccact.org.au