Release the report now Minister: Mental health reform stalled again

10 Jan 2007 archivemedia

Mental Health Minister Gail Gago must immediately release the findings of the report into the state’s mental health system by the Social Inclusion Board and Commissioner Cappo, Shadow Minister for Mental Health Michelle Lensink said today.

Ms Lensink said the report had been continually used by Minister Gago as an excuse to delay responding to any problem within the mental health system and it is now the time to stop hiding behind it.

“It is time to release this report and move forward with a comprehensive plan for mental health services for all South Australians,” Ms Lensink said.

“The past few weeks have seen the public condemnation of the system by the Coroner, and public outrage at the release of potentially dangerous patients into the community and still the Minister hides behind reports and reviews.

“On Wednesday December 6 I asked Minister Gago if and when we could expect to see the Cappo report and she advised me that she did not have it yet. One week later she then said it had been presented to Cabinet.

“Cabinet has a ‘ten-day rule’, this can only mean one of two things: that either the Minister misled Parliament or that the rule was breached to allow an urgent submission. What is in the report that the government doesn’t want the public to see?

“John Hill, as Acting Mental Health Minister has recently indicated that acute hospital-based services will miss out. Yet people in our community keep telling me that they have to wait to get into a bed – or commit some act as a cry for help to get a service. The government is also ignoring the issue of extended care rehabilitation for people who simply need more time to recover.

“The Rann Government has continued to pay lip service to these areas of mental health policy but they are so important. It’s when these areas aren’t funded adequately that vulnerable people who might be a risk to themselves or others are released prematurely back into the community.

“It has become routine with the Rann Government that anytime it’s forced to deal with hard issues a Minister announces another study, review or taskforce.

“Frankly, I am sick of it and I am sure the public is as well. It is time for the government to come clean and be honest about whether it is serious about mental health.”