Release the report now Minister: Mental health reform still on backburner

18 Dec 2006 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 has been 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.

“For far too long Minister Gago has hidden behind the excuse that there is a report in progress. On radio Minister Gago has admitted that the Cappo report has been to Cabinet – it is time to release this report and move forward with the promised reform of mental health,” Ms Lensink said.

“The past week saw the public condemnation of the system by the Coroner 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?

“The Minister has now indicated that the government won’t even respond to the report before February next year. Unfortunately for those who utilise the mental health system and their families they cannot put their illness on hold till after the holidays.

“Does Commissioner Cappo believe that South Australians can wait that long? After all, on October 1 Commissioner Cappo wrote in the Sunday Mail that:

The mental health system is under such strain and is so disjointed that not bringing about massive reform, and quickly, will not - and cannot - be tolerated by the South Australian community.

Ms Lensink said South Australia was well short of the $144 million the government committed to mental health as part of the COAG agreement and had completely neglected the two listed priorities of corrections and supported accommodation.

“The Rann Government was provided with a report by Ian Bidmeade in April 2005 and promised to have draft legislation to amend the Mental Health Act out by mid 2006. It’s now December, Parliament is over for the year and we are yet to see the amendments.

Rural communities have also been ignored and youth education programs are under threat of being axed.

“Basically, the mental health system in this state is at breaking point,” Ms Lensink said. “

“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.”