Govt’s mental health plan ‘empty’ and ill-directed
EXPERTS have criticised the Government’s newest blueprint for mental health services as an “empty” plan that is unlikely to drive much-needed sector reform.
The Fourth National Mental Health Plan will set the agenda for collaborative government action in mental health for the next five years, and will focus on five areas including prevention and early intervention, services access and coordination, and quality improvement.
The last national plan was developed in 2004, but in 2006 the previous government announced it would sink $1.9 billion worth of funding into mental health over five years, including $754 million for the Better Access scheme.
Professor Patrick McGorry, professor of psychiatry at the University of Melbourne, expressed anger that the draft plan provided no clear directions.
“[There is] a lot of rhetoric and empty motherhood statements but no real commitment to action plans, measurable outcomes or weighting of what needs to be done first,” he said.
Sebastian Rosenberg, deputy CEO of the Mental Health Council of Australia, said the plan was missing government accountability. “To drive reform really rests on being able to deduce whether what we are doing is making [any] difference.”
However, author of the first national plan, Professor Harvey Whiteford, Kratzmann professor of psychiatry and population health at the University of Queensland, said the plan adequately addressed the competing priorities within the mental health system.
A Federal Health Department spokesperson said the draft plan prioritised accountability and state and territory governments would commit to a national reporting system once the plan was finalised.