Government must take firm and immediate action to address mental health issues in communities across Australia. In Question Time today, Independent Member for Indi, Cathy McGowan AO, called on Minister for Health, Sussan Ley, to respond on the Report of the National Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services, delivered to the Government in December last year. Consequently Ms Ley established the Mental Health Expert Reference Group to report to the Minister by October this year.
Ms McGowan said Government had to demonstrate the will and resolve to act on mental health.
“Our communities are being let down and deserve a much better response,” Ms McGowan said. “There is no excuse for the lack of action. A number of reviews, reports and recommendations put to governments over the years highlighting what needs to be done. The time for action is now.”
Ms McGowan said improving mental health was a priority in her electorate and had taken a number of actions to bring a national focus to this very serious issue.
“There is a growing level of frustration in my community that not enough is being done to address mental health. We need more support for services and Government to demonstrate it does care about people, families and the sector struggling to deal effectively with issues,” she said.
Ms McGowan welcomed the Minister’s response in Question Time and awaits the announcement about the future direction of mental health before the end of the year. “I encourage the Minister to make the announcement as soon as possible,” she said.
Tomorrow evening, Ms McGowan is chairing a Beyond Blue event in Wangaratta. National Mental Health Commission member Nicole Gibson is a guest speaker, along with Albury Wodonga headspace manager Bek Nash-Webster, Barry Phillips, Terry Scanlan and Rob Groat. This forum is an opportunity to hear wide-ranging views about the impact of mental health and the role service providers play in the community.
“I encourage anyone with an interest in mental health improving to attend this free community event,” she said. “This is particularly relevant to young people and families struggling to cope and looking for assistance to help with problems.”
In a Notice of Motion tabled in Parliament this week, Ms McGowan called on the Government to make Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health a national priority, and introduce an additional COAG Closing the Gap target specifically for mental health. These are actions in line with recommendations in the Report of the National Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services.