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Issue #1679      April 1, 2015

Mental health sector call on PM for certainty of funding

Mental Health Australia has delivered a letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott imploring that the Commonwealth take urgent action to ensure continuity of services and programs for Australians who live with mental illness.

The letter includes 70 signatures from key mental health organisations including Headspace, the Black Dog Institute, Suicide Prevention Australia, R U OK and SANE Australia.

Right now, hundreds of contracts for community based mental health services and programs funded by the Department of Health are due to end June 30, 2015.

“While we understand the government will be formulating its response to the National Mental Health Commission’s Review of Mental Health Services and Programs, the continued uncertainty has now reached crisis point,” Mental Health Australia CEO Frank Quinlan said.

“Services have already begun to shut down, and staff have left to take up more secure positions. Certainty of funding is desperately needed so that community organisations can continue their important work.”

The Hon Tony Abbott MP
Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia

Dear Prime Minister,

We, the undersigned, are writing to implore the Australian government to take urgent action to ensure continuity of services and programs for Australians who live with mental illness, and those who care for them. Right now, hundreds of contracts for community based mental health services and programs funded by the Department of Health are due to end June 30, 2015.

While we understand the government will be formulating its response to the National Mental Health Commission’s Review of Mental Health Services and programs, the continued uncertainty is now resulting in staff attrition and service wind down.

This issue has now reached crisis point .Our Mental Health Parliamentary Advocacy Day on February 11, 2015 brought this to the attention of the Parliament, with our members receiving a good hearing from many parliamentarians, including members of government, but as yet we have not received any definitive advice regarding the future of programs.

Some agencies have indicated that without this advice, they will have to give staff notice of termination of employment in a matter of days. This ongoing uncertainty is causing a huge disruption to organisations and, increasingly, deep anxiety amongst the people they serve.

Following the Mental Health Parliamentary Advocacy Day we were delighted that Minister Fifield was able to provide some measure of certainty for community based mental health services and programs funded by the Department of Social Services.

We thank you for giving this matter your urgent attention and providing certainty for the vulnerable Australians who depend on these services.

Sincerely

Next article – 457 Visa workers left broke, homeless

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