7 April 2022
On the eve of a federal election campaign, the Mental Health Community Coalition of the ACT (MHCC ACT) has called on all political leaders and candidates to make mental health a priority in the upcoming Federal Election campaign, following a Federal Budget that failed to deliver the vision and investment urgently needed for mental health reform.
“Community mental health services are facing escalating demand, and we had hoped awareness of the growing mental health needs prompted by the pandemic might be the catalyst for political leaders to commit to mental health reform,” said Bec Cody, CEO of MHCC ACT.
“Beyond some welcome piecemeal measures, last week’s Federal Budget failed to deliver the transformational change that the entire mental health system urgently needs.
“Instead, the Federal Government delivered modest funding to a patchwork of measures, without providing a cohesive or comprehensive vision.
“The underwhelming scale of investment and the neglect of community mental health services will mean we’ll continue to see gaps in the system, stress on the sector and far too many people missing out on the mental health support they need.”
Of particular concern was the failure to provide funding to psychosocial services beyond June 2023, nor any investment in the community-managed mental health workforce.
“Since 2014, per capita funding for community-managed mental health services in the ACT has more than halved, and the pressure on chronically underfunded services has only intensified as demand for mental health support has grown through the pandemic.
“Too many people with mental health issues are ending up in hospital emergency and acute care simply because they are not getting the support they need in the community.
“The community mental health sector had already been dealt a blow by the lack of solid commitments in the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Agreement, which was released last month.
“Last week’s Budget delivered minimal funding commitments to more of the same sorts of services, which will do little to address the needs of hundreds of thousands of people missing out on support altogether.”
Ms Cody noted the ALP was yet to articulate a vision for the mental health system, including a commitment to invest in community mental health care.
“This election, we want to see mental health ranked highly among our long-term, national priorities. But we need more than rhetoric – we need to see a commitment to policies and funding that will deliver meaningful and enduring change. And this will mean shifting away from a narrow focus on clinical, hospital and acute care toward supporting people to live meaningful and contributing lives in their communities.
“With the Federal Election around the corner, we call on all political leaders to deliver plans to improve the mental health outcomes of people in Australia, both now and into the future.”
Media Contact: Bec Cody, CEO, 0409 070 709 | Bec.Cody@mhccact.org.au
MHCC ACT is the peak body for community mental health services in the ACT. Find out more about MHCC ACT at www.mhccact.org.au.