Government Sits On Nearly One Million Dollars While Vital Mental Health Services Wind Down

03 Apr 2007 archivemedia

The Rann Government has sat on nearly $1 million in unspent mental health funding while community services starve and public health sector psychiatrists hold stop work meetings, Shadow Mental Health Minister Michelle Lensink said today.

Ms Lensink said that the Rann Government closed the Special Stay Unit for international detainees experiencing mental health difficulties at Glenside which parked in a government bank account nearly $1 million.

“It is beyond belief that there are unspent funds sitting around while community service providers have to scrimp to keep their doors open and the Salaried Medical Officers Association threatens industrial action over the lack of mental health services,” Ms Lensink said.

“Documents received through Freedom of Information regarding the Central Northern Adelaide Health Service, which operates mental health services, revealed a surplus of nearly $1 million. The documents state; ‘Mental Health’s financial position is a $0.9 million surplus…attributable to a range of issues such as closure of the Commonwealth Immigration Detainees ward, unanticipated revenue levels and delays in asset sustainment expenditure…’

“Last April the Federal Government had to come forward with a $1.8 billion package, outlining priories for funding within mental health and asking the states to contribute funding for new initiatives.

“So far the Rann Government has failed to deliver on the funding agreement and has backed away silently on any pre-election mental health funding promises.

“The $25 million one off funding provided in the 2005-2006 budget was a once off and has not been made recurrent despite protest from interest groups and recommendations within the Social Inclusion Board’s ‘Stepping Up’ Report released in February.

“Community service providers are shutting down programs and services while waiting for the government to pledge further funding – all while Mental Health Minister Gail Gago sits on nearly $1 million of unspent funding.

“The Rann Government are denying the community appropriate services, increasing the chances of relapses and placing further stress on the already slashed acute facilities.

“I urge Minister Gago to go see Treasurer Foley and allocate any unspent funds to the community service providers who so desperately need it.”