The future of over 70 mental health organisations is under threat as Commonwealth grants end on 30 June and the certainty of funding is yet to be confirmed. Prominent mental health groups including Mental Health Australia, Headspace, Suicide Prevention Australia, Sane Australia and the Black Dog Institute have written to Prime Minister Tony Abbott asking him to continue providing the $300 million in annual funding to mental health services. They have also urged him to commit sooner rather than later, as some agencies have already had to start shutting down services and will begin terminating employees in the coming days.
Included in the letter, the organisations said that, “This ongoing uncertainty is causing a huge disruption to organisations and increasingly, deep anxiety amongst the people they serve.”
A review of mental health services was commissioned by the Government last February and delivered in November, but findings have not been made public and the Government is yet to indicate any response to the review.
“We are asking the Government to provide some certainty in the short term to give time for consultations and planning when the review is released,” said Frank Quinlan, chief executive of Mental Health Australia.
Health Minister Sussan Ley said the Government was finalising the immediate future funding for the organisations.
Each year in Australia, one in five people will experience a mental illness. Groups such as Mental Health Australia, Headspace, Black Dog Institute or Suicide Prevention Australia are leading the way in offering services to those affected by mental illness, to help them understand the issues they face and to assist them through the tough times ahead.
The denial of immediate funding and the creation of an uncertain future for these organisations not only affects the employees who tirelessly help troubled individuals through hard times, but also creates uncertainty for those seeking help.
At some stage in their lives, nearly half (45 per cent) of the Australian population will experience a mental disorder of some kind, and the critical services these organisations provide key resources in helping fight the issues they face going forward.
These services deserve our respect and that of our Government. Show some common sense Prime Minister and guarantee the future of these organisations.
What do you think? Should funding for these services have been guaranteed a long time before now to guarantee certainty for the organisations?