No, this isn’t an episode of Sure Minister, it is the Morrison authorities’s response to the psychological well being disaster

The psychological well being sector is commonly criticised by political leaders, and different social commentators, for not being extra united in its advocacy or centered in its key “asks” of presidency. Consequently, it’s simple for governments to argue that it’s nonetheless crucial to carry extra stakeholder consultations, parliamentary enquiries, inter-governmental conferences, royal commissions or human rights investigations.

Frankly, in 2020, these delaying ways are not acceptable. In late October, the Australian Bureau of Statistics launched its annual reason for dying knowledge for 2019 . When it comes to productive years of life misplaced, suicide dwarfed all different causes. It accounted for 115,000 years misplaced yearly, with coronary heart illness a distant second (78,000 years misplaced prematurely). Within the COVID-19 period, many count on a worsening psychological well being toll, notably amongst youthful folks.

Previous to the October 2020 finances, a broad cross part of the psychological well being sector introduced the Morrison authorities with a four-year $3.7 billion proposal to implement instantly a variety of broadly agreed priorities. The sector assumes that the states and territories may even commit funds, workforces and infrastructure to ship a regionally centered program of labor.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg's budget did not deliver for mental health.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s finances didn’t ship for psychological well being.Credit score:Alex Ellinghausen

Our report centered on 5 key areas, together with: the nationwide rollout of complete follow-up providers for many who try suicide ($800 million; a proposal strongly endorsed by the Productiveness Fee report); creation of a funding pool for enhanced social helps ($1.2 billion to sit down alongside additional enchancment of the Nationwide Incapacity Insurance coverage Scheme); institution of latest extra specialised multidisciplinary groups working in neighborhood settings to help common practitioners and different main care providers ($1.2 billion with $600 million centered on adults and $600 million centered on kids and youth); deployment of latest digital providers and technology-based co-ordination of care ($400 million, one other excessive precedence from the fee’s report); and, robust help for regionally centered planning and implementation of latest providers ($100 million).

Different large reforms have additionally been proposed together with public buying of personal hospital beds and providers to take stress off our public emergency departments. One other proposal that dates again to the Rudd authorities Well being Reform Fee means that the Commonwealth be liable for funding all community-based psychological well being providers, leaving the states to deal with their important public hospital, public housing and forensic tasks. In 2015, the Nationwide Psychological Well being Fee really useful that new progress cash in psychological well being be invested in neighborhood providers (favouring early intervention) and no more hospital beds.


The October 2020 finances didn’t take ahead any of those main reforms. The federal government said that it was awaiting the discharge of the ultimate Productiveness Fee report (which it had acquired on the finish of June 2020). So, what’s the rationale for one more report? Nicely, the Morrison authorities has created a brand new “nationwide cupboard” mannequin and now seeks to interact the states and territories in a standard strategy to reform and likewise needs to await the ultimate report of Victoria’s royal commission into its mental health system.

What COVID-19 has actually proven us is that when governments actually want to take actions, they do. Largely, they do that with the consent of the broader neighborhood. At this stage, I’d recommend that on psychological well being the neighborhood expects its governments to speak much less and do much more. And do it now.

Ian Hickie is the co-director, well being and coverage on the Mind and Thoughts Centre, College of Sydney.