Michelle Lensink

More Delays In Government Mental Health Reforms

Minister for Mental Health Gail Gago has admitted that two crucial reports into mental health reform has been delayed, Shadow Minister for Mental Health Michelle Lensink said today.

Ms Lensink said that the draft legislation promised as a response to a review conducted by Professor Ian Bidmeade and the Social Inclusion Board’s report into the mental health system have been rumoured to be delayed by up to a year, a rumour that was confirmed by Minister Gago yesterday in Parliament.

“The review of the mental health system by Professor Ian Bidmeade, commonly known as the Bidmeade report was presented to the Rann Government in early 2005,” Ms Lensink said.

“The Rann Government advised in a newsletter in May 2006 that recommendations from the Bidmeade report would be used to draft legislation that would be available mid year.

“It is now coming up to October and we are yet to see draft legislation offered for public consultation.

“And now we are being informed by the AMA President Dr Chris Cain on ABC radio this morning that from his understanding the Social Inclusion Board does not intend to release their mental health review by the end of 2006 as promised, but will produce it sometime in next years Budget cycle.

“Despite assurance from the Premier, it’s interesting how quickly mental health slips off the Rann Government’s radar. ‘Premier Mike Rann has directed Social Inclusion Board chairman Monsignor David Cappo to make mental health the board's top priority for the rest of this year.’ March 27, 2006

“All the Rann Government has done for mental health is commit to review after review. And they cannot even produce them on time.

“Over a year ago while opposing the formation of another Parliamentary committee into mental health services in South Australia, the then Minister Carmel Zollo confidently stated: ‘We do not need another report into mental health services in this state. What we need is to keep moving forward with our mental health reform agenda.’ Hansard April 6 2005

Unfortunately for Ms Zollo her leader, Premier Rann, disagreed and in April announced in The Advertiser that: ‘South Australia's most powerful social policy adviser has been given the task of overhauling its ailing mental health system.

“While we sit holding our breaths awaiting the outcomes of the Bidmeade and Cappo reports and how they are going to effect mental health in South Australia, it’s hard not to wonder whether the money invested in conducting this research would have been better spent on programs and staff.”

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