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Issue #1762      January 25, 2017

Mental health sector unites

More than 50 mental health sector organisations have written a joint letter to the Prime Minister and First Ministers outlining the many shortcomings in the draft Fifth National Mental Health Plan released in October and calling for decisive action.

The letter draws attention to the alarming gaps between previous commitments by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) on mental health and the consultation draft for the Fifth National Mental Health Plan.

Mental Health Australia CEO Frank Quinlan says early and consistent sector-wide feedback on the draft plan indicates it reflects old modes of thinking and does not reflect a changing world.

“It appears from the draft plan that governments intend to renege on past COAG commitments,” said Mr Quinlan. “We are united on the key features of a world leading mental health system that supports consumers and carers to live contributing lives.”

Mental Health Australia’s submission on the draft Fifth National Mental Health Plan calls for a substantially re-drafted Plan to:

  • clarify roles and responsibilities of governments, and take a whole of government approach to mental health
  • include targets and indicators
  • reorient investment towards early intervention and prevention
  • expand and embed community services, close to need
  • be subject to careful revision and be submitted to Ministers in mid 2017, rather than being rushed through in early 2017.

Signatories to the joint letter include the National Mental Health Consumer & Carer Forum, Suicide Prevention Australia, Orygen, Sane Australia, ReachOut, RUOK?, the Black Dog Institute and a further 50 organisations for a total of 57.


A diverse partnership of 37 representative organisations of people with disability, disability advocacy organisations and disability peak bodies are calling for the 2017 Board of the NDIA to ensure strong representation of people with disability. The partner organisations made their call as part of a Civil Society NDIS Statement directed to the Council of Australian Governments and the National Disability Insurance Agency.

“The success of NDIS implementation cannot be adequately understood from simply an economic, market or financial perspective,” said Bonnie Millen, President of People with Disability Australia. “We expect NDIA board members to lead and uphold the vision, objects and principles of the NDIS, which broadly aim to support our independence and social and economic participation. This requires specific technical and disability knowledge, skills and expertise, and strong representation of people with disability on the NDIA Board is critical to achieving this.”

Christina Ryan, Chief Executive Officer of Advocacy for Inclusion said, “High level corporate skills cannot be favoured over disability expertise. The long-term viability of the NDIS needs to remain steadfast in achieving core principles, including participant choice and control and genuine co-design by people with disability.

“We are the experts in our own lives, and this expertise is critical to the integrity and cost effectiveness of NDIS implementation. The government wrongly assumes that there are no people with disability with the high level governance, financial management and industry expertise required for the NDIA Board.”

Executive Director of Community Mental Health Australia, Amanda Bresnan said, “Building strong linkages between the NDIS and other service systems, including the mental health service system is critical for people with psychosocial disability. NDIS governance must include people with disability to reflect the unique combination of expertise that is essential for a scheme that is more than an exercise in industry and financial management – it is designed to deliver secure lifetime support and equality of opportunity.”

Next article – The singer at the gates of dawn

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