Mental Health

24 Nov 2005 questionsarchive

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse a question about mental health.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Correspondence has been referred to previously from a GP located at Mount Barker, Dr Paul Lehmann, and I am also in receipt of some of his correspondence, some of which has been quoted. He sent an email to a number of members on 7 November, including to the minister concerned, and said:

Please find attached a letter to John Hill that I have also posted today. It has been over three months since I wrote to Lea Stevens and about four months since I wrote to Jonathon Brayley without response. I hope the new health minister is more approachable.

In the contents of the letter he refers to the lack of community and mental health resources in the Adelaide Hills and to a position within CAMHS, which has now thankfully been made permanent. He also refers to the research that has been referred to previously in this chamber about population based funding that shows that the Mount Barker region is severely underfunded. The statistics show that the amount of services not just for young people but also for adults with mental health disorders is well below average on a national and metropolitan basis.

Dr Lehmann states that the Labor government was elected on a health, education and policing platform, and the previous health minister, Lea Stevens, had consistently stated that mental health was her No.1 priority. He says further down:

I have written to Jonathon Brayley, the state’s Mental Health Director, on 16 June 2005. Despite having subsequently having meet with him, I have received no response in writing. Unfortunately the meeting was unproductive as Dr Brayley was being minded by Danny Broderick at the time.

I understand he was one of the health minister’s advisers at the time. He continues:

I subsequently wrote to both Lea Stevens and Carmel Zollo on 2 August. . .

The figures that he has quoted show that the full-time equivalents in the Adelaide Hills area for the 0 to 18 group are at three. However, if you were to apply the national average it should be 6.3 and for the metropolitan area 8.9, and then different figures again for the adults. As a total, the actual FTEs in the Adelaide Hills is 7.4, but when applying the national average it should be 22.1, and for the metropolitan area 31.7. I do understand that the minister has since met with Dr Lehmann, but my questions to the minister are:

1. Does she support the population based funding model for mental health?

2. Is it this government’s practice for senior public servants to require political appointees as minders when they meet with other Public Service officers or, indeed, with other stakeholders in the community?

3. Has Dr Lehmann now received a formal reply from either Dr John Brayley or any government minister?

The Hon. CARMEL ZOLLO (Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse): The honourable member is correct, I did have the opportunity to meet Dr Lehmann last week, and I commended him for his passion.

The Hon. R.D. Lawson: How patronising!

The Hon. CARMEL ZOLLO: I am not being patronising at all. I think that if the Hon. Mr Lawson met him he would realise that he is very passionate and very much believes in what he is doing. I have no idea why the honourable member says that. It is my understanding also that Dr John Brayley has responded formally to Dr Lehmann. The paper that he espouses is a population health model funding allocation. Such an approach, of course, was recommended in the Generational Health Review.

The department, of course, is developing along that model.

This will replace the historical systems of resource allocation.

In discussions with him, I am certain that we also talked about the fact that South Australia is reasonably unique in that, essentially, it is a city/state, and that there will always be some specialist services that country South Australians will have to access in Adelaide. I think that most members would probably recognise that. In relation to some of the statistical comparisons that he was making, I understand that the Queensland benchmarks to which Dr Lehmann refers are targets which, I am sure, that state does hope to achieve but which they have not yet achieved.

The figures for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) show that South Australia’s actual statewide performance is favourable compared to Queensland;

although we have been unable to obtain that state’s metro/rural breakdown.

I also have to say that looking at such data alone is limited because targets can be arbitrary. Different states have markedly different population patterns in rural areas, with larger populations and cities in the country. Issues such as remoteness, social disadvantage, availability of alternative services and proximity to other specialist services also need some consideration.

As I said, I was really very pleased to have the opportunity to meet with him.We also talked about the $25 million oneoff funding and the $6.44 million allocated for the benefit of country areas in South Australia. I know that there has been funding for mental health services in the Hills Mallee Southern region. The NGO ‘Life without Barriers’ has received $1.03 million to provide services in the Hills Mallee Southern area, which is from that $25 million NGO funding.

In addition, $175 000 per annum was allocated to UnitingCareWesley Adelaide in the Hills Mallee Southern.

That is reallocated funds within the department. Other new funds for country South Australia include $600 000 to support additional mental health workers in country South Australia, which was allocated prior to Dr Lehmann even meeting me. I understand that a third position has been created by the Southern Adelaide Health Services for CAMHS services at Mount Barker.

As the honourable member knows, I recently announced four-year funding of $1.9 million to engage those six additional country child and adolescent workers. I am certain that that will improve outcomes for young people in regional South Australia. That recruitment has been given high priority by this government. We have also funded $330 000 for the expansion of the rural and remote triage service which will assist country South Australia. I could continue. I also noticed that $175 000 will fund an expansion of the afterhours service at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital which provides telephone advice for practitioners right across our state. Another very good initiative is the statewide funding of $3.25 million to the South Australian divisions of general practice. That will be spent across South Australia, including the Adelaide Hills division of general practitioners, to improve mental health care services and shared care between local GPs and local mental health workers.

The Hon. J.M.A. Lensink: What about minders?

The Hon. CARMEL ZOLLO: When the honourable member means minders, I assume that the minister’s chief of staff was with the minister when she met Dr Lehmann. Why she would find that extraordinary, I have no idea.

The Hon. J.M.A. Lensink: It was Dr Brayley.

The Hon. CARMEL ZOLLO: I do not know whether the minister was there at the time at all.

The Hon. J.M.A. Lensink: No; it was not. It was a meeting with Dr Brayley.

The Hon. CARMEL ZOLLO: I do not think I need to worry about nonsense like that, quite frankly. That is nonsense.