Representatives of the mental health services sector have penned an open letter to Tony Abbott and Health Minister Sussan Ley, calling for “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 30 June 2015,” the letter states. “We have not received any definitive advice regarding the future of programs.”
The National Mental Health Commission has completed a major review of the mental health sector, and it is now with the minister, but no date has been set for its release.
The mental health services is just the latest branch of the community sector to have to beg the government to continue funding so that services can continue. The letter states that the issue has reached “crisis point”, and that staff could be laid off within days.
The Coalition claimed “a strong record of investing in better mental health services” in the 2013 election campaign. If it’s going to live up to its rhetoric, it must stop being so cavalier with front-line services. The kind of “certainty” that the government likes to insist is critical to businesses and investors is just as important to community sector bodies trying to juggle budgets and staff trying to work out if they’ll have a job in three months. The National Mental Health Commission’s review should be released immediately.