It’s time for SA Labor to deliver on mental health

14 Jul 2006 archivemedia

Today’s meeting of Premiers in Canberra will be a test of the Rann Government’s resolve to address the needs of South Australians with mental illness.

Shadow Mental Health Minister Michelle Lensink said the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting was a ‘make or break’ opportunity for the Rann Government to deliver the support for the mental health sector promised during the election campaign.

In February Premier Mike Rann agreed that mental health was a priority for additional funding from his government as well as the Commonwealth.

On April 5 the federal government announced an unprecedented $1.8 billion to be provided by the for new mental health services.

“The Commonwealth unequivocally stated that each state was expected to respond by putting additional funds towards supported accommodation,” Ms Lensink said.

“Mike Rann must go to today’s COAG meeting in good faith with a solid commitment to uphold his end of the deal.

“So far the community has heard nothing from this government except delayed budgets and delaying tactics when it comes to delivering on its February mental health pledge.

“All we’ve seen is responsibility for mental health buck-passed to the quasi-minister, Monsignor Cappo. Meanwhile, the real, sworn-in Mental Health Minister, Gail Gago, claims that she can’t comment because the Commonwealth hasn’t spoken to her about the details of its offer!

“Mike Rann’s Labor government will say and do anything to avoid making decisions about accommodation – and more importantly committing funds – for our mentally ill citizens.

“Meanwhile, a lot of people who are unable to care for themselves are forced to live or sleep in unsafe places like the parklands where they are at high risk.

“The Liberal Party’s policy is to upgrade services at Glenside and provide new accommodation for people with mental health difficulties who are unable to live independently in the community.

“Having made it through the election on glib policies, Mike Rann’s Labor government must come clean on how much of its promises on mental health will actually be delivered.”