Michelle Lensink

Mental Health

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse a question about COAG priorities.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: On 14 July, as part of the publication of the COAG response from the states, the state government released a list of programs. The state priorities as directed by the commonwealth are: emergency and crisis services, hospital-based services, community-based services, corrections and supported accommodation. My question is:

what programs is the minister proposing to provide to address those last two priorities, that is, corrections and supported accommodation?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO(Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse): The South Australian government has been very responsive in relation to its mental health services.

On 14 July, the Prime Minister, the premiers and the chief ministers released a national action plan for mental health, which provides a strategic framework that emphasises coordination and collaboration between the government and private and non-government providers in order to deliver a more seamless and connected care system so that people with mental illness are able to participate in the community. The aims include a greater focus on promotion, prevention and early intervention; to provide stable accommodation and support; and to increase participation in recreational, social, employment and other activities.

The South Australian government has committed $116.2 million over four years towards our share of South Australia’s response to the COAG agreement. That amount comprises $50.1 million in new additional recurrent funding, commencing in the 2006-07 financial year. That funding will support programs such as the Shared Care initiative, which we announced during the last election campaign, and also general practitioners and healthy young minds. The remainder includes new recurrent and one-off funds that previously have been announced. Funding was provided for initiatives such as beyondblue and psychosocial support packages, additional nurse practitioners for metropolitan and country regions, additional mental liaison nurses in emergency departments and child and adolescent workers.

We have committed to 60 new community rehabilitation accommodation beds: we will provide 20 new beds in the north, south and western areas. We have also obviously contributed significant amounts to supported accommodation packages for people once they leave hospital to support them in their local communities and to help them function in an independent way.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Sir, I have a supplementary question arising from the minister’s response. Of the programs she has listed, which have been announced since the initial COAG announcement by the Prime Minister on 5 April 2006?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: All these initiatives are priorities for the South Australian government. They are all priority services that are needed by South Australians. This government has demonstrated how responsive it is to meet the mental health needs of South Australians, which was a sadly neglected service area. The previous Liberal government had left it almost destitute after its eight years in office. We have had to come from a long way behind. We have demonstrated our commitment to the delivery of mental health services in this state by appointing a minister with a designated portfolio for mental health, by setting up the Social Inclusion Board reference to look at the whole transformation of our mental health system, by the new initiatives we have announced and funded in our budget in terms of our shared care and healthy young minds initiatives, and also our significant capital commitment. This government has delivered important services to a very badly neglected area.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Sir, I have a further supplementary question. Is the minister saying that the government is refusing to address those two priorities, as outlined in the COAG agreement?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: I have already outlined a number of support services that we are providing, and I can continue to name them, in terms of psychiatric disability support packages, the integrated inner city service system, and the funds that go into SRFs and supported accommodation demonstration projects. We are currently funding and are committed to a large number of projects to provide supported accommodation for people with mental illness. What is important in any negotiations with the commonwealth is that South Australia sets its agenda in terms of meeting the priority needs of this state and is not dictated to by the whims and fancies of the federal government.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Sir, I have a further supplementary question arising from the minister’s answer.

Is the minister saying that corrections and supported accommodation are not priorities of this government in terms of mental health?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: I have given my response.

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