Mental Health Under Pressure Again As State Funding Promises Evaporate

08 May 2006 archivemedia

The Rann Government has backed down on its pre-election commitment to fight for more funds for mental health, according to Shadow Mental Health Minister Michelle Lensink.

“During the 2006 state election campaign, Mr Rann attended a COAG meeting in Canberra at which he claimed to be urging the Prime Minister to put aside more resources for mental health,” Ms Lensink said.

“The COAG Communiqué, signed by the Prime Minister and all Premiers on 10 February, acknowledged that new funds would need to be provided by all governments and stated that: COAG acknowledged that governments have made significant recent investments in the area but also noted that additional resources will be required from all governments to address the issues. (emphasis added)

“In response, the Federal Government has come forward with an offer of $1.8 billion of new national funding for mental health.

“However, in response to questioning in Parliament today, Mental Health Minister Gail Gago refused to indicate whether the South Australian Labor Government would accept the Commonwealth’s offer, let alone confirm whether funding announced in the state election or in the 2005 budget would be guaranteed.

“This is a scandalous neglect of desperate South Australians,” Ms Lensink said.

“Having promised it would improve mental health services in the lead up to the election, the government is now refusing to guarantee the future of a whole range of community services, in areas such as medication management, home help, and GP access.

“Without such help, many people with mental health problems may fall back into being a danger to themselves – or others.

“Despite the worsening plight of South Australians in these challenging, and at times tragic, circumstances, the Rann Government refuses to provide adequate support.”