Future of mental health uncertain

Funding of over 70 mental health organisations is uncertain.

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.

Read more from theguardian.com.au
Read more from ABC.net.au

Opinion: Show some respect

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?





    COMMENTS

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    particolor
    24th Mar 2015
    10:27am
    That Old Bloke up there looks like He is Considering what is the Best Buy with His Pension RISE ?? A loaf of Top Shelf Bread for the fortnight or 1 Lamb Loin Chop for the fortnight ?? {:-)
    dougie
    24th Mar 2015
    1:11pm
    Particolor,
    The article was headed up " Show some respect". If we are looking at the same picture I would have felt that this was a man with problems and he should be offered help not derision.
    Chris B T
    24th Mar 2015
    4:00pm
    Until you ask the person sitting on the seat you won't know.
    A kind word or inquiry ( that won't happen as me/we keep working by ).
    All Respect for those NGO's for doing what our Public Health Depts should be doing.
    Cuts to Health Budgets flow down very quickly.
    We would be a very sorry place without ALL NGO's Taking up the shortage of
    services The Government isn't willing to do.
    Chris B T
    25th Mar 2015
    9:46am
    I should have said Walking by
    Lula
    24th Mar 2015
    10:57am
    Mental Health support should be increased, not reduced. This will be more costly in the long run, both in human and economic terms. This policy is misguided and should be condemned.
    Paulodapotter
    24th Mar 2015
    11:02am
    We are talking of a government that has shown itself to be morally bankrupt on virtually every level, be it treatment of refugees, health, the environment or encouragement of productivity. It's prime purpose is to remain in power because politicians today, as Malcolm Fraser pointed out, see politics as a job, not a service.
    particolor
    24th Mar 2015
    11:15am
    I don't think Remaining in Power now is a Top Priority now Paulo ?? Where else can you get a job that Pays You for Life after a few short years and you get the Sack for Incompetence ?? :-(
    Dotty
    24th Mar 2015
    12:56pm
    I agree totally about the increase not a decrease in Mental Health Funding ! Just as I think that the Government should be thinking of us older Generation and what we have to survive on ! Although they in Government never have to think about the low cost of anything as they have it all ! A huge wage and still giving themselves more and a Huge Superannuation and all the perks that go with it after they get out of Politic's ! Dotty
    Paulodapotter
    24th Mar 2015
    11:33pm
    Good point, Particolor, but not all get enough benefits to tide them over if they only get the job for one term. They are all motivated to remain MPs and the only sure way to be an MP is to make sure your side wins. In reality most seats are marginal.
    Mar
    24th Mar 2015
    12:21pm
    Spot on Particolor! I can't believe the damage this Government is doing to so many necessary services. Mental health has always been under supported, but this further cut is unbelievable when it is more of a problem in our society than ever.
    dougie
    24th Mar 2015
    1:09pm
    Again everyone has jumped in to criticise and declaim the Government over this decision , a decision which has not even been made yet.
    I do not know or in fact know much of the Minister Sussan Ley, but she does appear to me to be someone with a heart and the ability to push her barrow in cabinet. How about she be given the time to make her decision get the Cabinet approval and make an announcement in good time. Organisations are funded to June 3o so why are they talking about putting staff off etc 3 months out. Poor budgeting poor management or just pushing their barrow to try to achieve their objectives for their organisation. I haven't heard Jeff Kennett being so voluble, maybe he understands the processes.
    Let us give the lady a chance and then if she does't perform crucify her. Chopping her head off now does not help anyones cause.
    KSS
    24th Mar 2015
    1:22pm
    I agree dougie. Those in the NFP NGO sector who gain Government funding are generally funded for specific projects over a specific period of time - (anything from 1 - 3 years). At the end of that timeframe, they have to re-tender or reapply for funding. At no stage has it ever been guaranteed that they would get the same or increased funding or, indeed any funding at all. Thus many employees are on contracts that don't always extend beyond the financial year for the very fact that funding could not be guaranteed. Couple that with an ever expanding number of organisations all doing similar things, all fighting for the same bucket of money, and there are bound to be 'winners' and losers'.

    In addition for years the Government of the day has delayed decisions on funding for as much as three or four months after the start of the next financial year. Meaning the organisation, if they did receive funding, had to do 12 months work in 8 or 9 months. Welcome to the land of the NGO NFP sector.
    dougie
    24th Mar 2015
    1:27pm
    KSS

    You got it in one and this not only applies to NGO and NFP sectors but also to Departmental budgets where generally operations continue under what is known as "Supply" for a couple of months until funding is advised for the year. This means departments are restricted to expenditure of a percentage of that approved for the previous year.

    This system applies under whatever party is the Government of the day. Be patient and see what happens.
    Dand
    24th Mar 2015
    1:20pm
    If I remember rightly it was after cuts in mental health care by the Howard Government that the Port Arthur shooting by a madman caused all gun owners to be treated as criminals.
    In today's political climate it takes a really stupid government to cut services to people suffering from mental problems.
    Dan
    dougie
    24th Mar 2015
    1:38pm
    Dand,

    Some short time after the Port Arthur events I spoke with a Psychologist who had assisted with the counselling of the young man involved. This was in a very personal way and he assured me that in his assessment the young man had slipped through the cracks for one simple reason. This was because of the fact that the good lady who had taken him into her life was wealthy and could provide for him and did provide for him in every way financially. Had he have had to apply for Government funding in either unemployment or some other form, he would more than likely have been assessed and assisted. This was really a very sad case for everyone involved. I am so sorry for everyone that was involved in this matter, the waste of lives on all fronts is horrendous.
    Jen
    24th Mar 2015
    2:07pm
    "Opinion: Show some respect"

    Well said. Trouble is, this Government has ZERO respect. They're in it for the power, their mates and themselves. They know if they ever need help, it will be easily come by, will probably be free, provided by a mate or cohort (as in Tony's daughter's free education) and anybody not in the same position to behave in this manner, can go jump. Until Australia finds itself a government that realises they're there solely to be of service to Australia and Australians, this attitude will continue in varying degrees. Obviously, I'm not holding my breath.
    Paulodapotter
    24th Mar 2015
    11:36pm
    Ditto, Jen.
    Hasbeen
    24th Mar 2015
    2:26pm
    Well we already know we can't pay our bills with current income & expenditure.

    Our income is dropping rather unpleasantly quickly, as iron ore & coal prices drop dramatically.

    Would all you critics, who want more spent on mental health please tell us what programs should be cut to what we can afford, & which should be cut even further to allow increased spending on mental health.

    Personally I would like to walk again, rather than hobble. However I am told it is likely to be another year, [been waiting 2 now], before I even get to be evaluated for a replacement knee, let alone get one

    I would hate to be responsible for deciding where our diminishing numbers of dollars should be spent. No matter what you decided, some activists would want more on their pet hobby horse.
    Tom Tank
    24th Mar 2015
    2:51pm
    It is very simple to fix the financial circumstances and that is tax those who are not paying their fair share by means of tax avoidance schemes that this Government will not implement.
    It has been commented upon by many people wiser than myself that the current budgetary problems can be traced back to John Howard and Peter Costello's incredible generosity to the wealthy.
    I suppose I can now expect the usual rant about that other political party.
    Jen
    24th Mar 2015
    2:59pm
    I don't know how many times it needs to be said, actually. The wealthy aren't paying their fair share. When the wealthy pay a lower percentage of their income in tax than a PAYG worker, it's there, glaringly obvious. When Gina and Clive get cheaper fuel than you and I, there it is again, glaringly obvious. There are so many instances that need to be changed in order to fix the deficit without harming the most vulnerable. But it won't happen because greed rules. And as voters, we allow it.
    Jen
    24th Mar 2015
    3:06pm
    And speaking of these miners, what the hell are we doing, propping them up when they're dying industries? Why aren't we putting money into sustainable energy? I know the Labor party leave a lot to be desired, but they got it right, the first time. That's where the future lies. Progressive nations know it.
    KSS
    24th Mar 2015
    3:29pm
    So far people here have already decided that the 'extra' income from taxing the "rich" should be spent on pension increases, carers' payments, disability pensions, dole payments especially for the young (under 25s) and the over 50s, medicare payments, education at all levels, propping up ailing sectors to maintain employment (e.g. various manufacturing) and now mental health organisations.

    I am just wondering how much they expect to collect from the "rich", how much will be allocated to these demands, how much would be allocated to maintaining other current services and payments such as hospitals, refugees, security and armed forces, and what will be left over for the new demands for increases to be made next week? And when there are no 'rich' left to tax, no politicians earning more than the minimum wage and having foregone their pensions, where will the money come from then?
    Jen
    24th Mar 2015
    3:43pm
    KSS, that's what the job of government is, surely? And to answer your question how much the "rich" should be taxed, I say, the same as Joe Blow. If it's good enough for a PAYG earner to pay 30 or 40% of his income, why should the wealthy pay less than 10%? For example CEOs of industry and banks etc. who early multi millions per year. Can't you see that's patently unfair? And the multi nationals ditto, the miners ditto. Big business generally. Especially those who outsource work to India, the Philippines etc and those who bring in workers from o/s on special visas, dudding Australians of jobs.
    KSS
    24th Mar 2015
    7:39pm
    Jen my question was not how much should the 'rich' be taxed, but how much do you think you would collect? And then how would you apportion it to all the demands that people on this site keep making.
    Jen
    24th Mar 2015
    7:58pm
    It's more about fairness, reasonableness and equality, that the wealthy should be paying their way, that rorts for the miners and multinationals are stopped. Whatever's collected would go a long way to fixing a lot of problems - without doing it by harming the vulnerable as is the way it's done now. THEN we can talk about other methods of paying the bills. This country belongs to all of us, not just the abovementioned. And it is not up to the average Australian to subsidise miners with their fuel etc.
    Hasbeen
    24th Mar 2015
    11:58pm
    Jen I read the figures the other day that show only the top 28% of PAYE taxpayers actually contribute to government income. The rest receive more in welfare or subsidies than they pay in tax.

    I would like you tax the rich folk to explain why the Labor government in 2 terms did not apply this tactic. They are talking about it now, but it is just a smoke screen. They know the majority of tax is paid by the wealthy now, & that the bottom 55% of employed people make no contribution from PAYE tax, after their various subsidies.

    This is why they are softening us up for an increase in GST. That, along with fuel tax & excise is where they get money out of us peasants.

    Do try to get the actual facts, so you can make constructive suggestions. WE sure need something better, before it is too late.
    Jen
    25th Mar 2015
    10:47am
    Hasbeen, you're steadfastly ignoring the glaringly obvious. Many of the top earners (probably all) don't pay the same percentage tax as the lower earners pay. This has to be adjusted or we'll keep on whinging! ;)

    I'm not against a small rise in the GST.

    And as for Labor, well, they're just a small l LNP, these days.
    Oldie84
    24th Mar 2015
    2:50pm
    What amazes me continuously is the fact that there are so many organisations being maintained by Government (tax payers) money. It doesn't matter wether you look at mental health, homelessness, child services and so many others I lost count of. Surely there must be a better and more cost effective way to deliver services. The Tax money only goes so far. What is the answer p[lease?
    dougie
    24th Mar 2015
    3:01pm
    Oldie 81

    Yes and when you consider that most of the small organisations claim between 10 and 15% of total funding for administrative costs and larger organisations up to 20% how much does that remove from actual assistance to these funded groups. Further let me say that many of these funded organisations are churches or religious groups.
    Jen
    24th Mar 2015
    3:08pm
    It is cost effective to take care of the vulnerable, Oldie81. But this Government seems blind to the bleeding obvious.
    Jen
    24th Mar 2015
    3:11pm
    Dougie, someone has to run these organisations. And those people have to be paid. That's where the 10 - 15% goes. Would you work for nothing? I wonder how many businesses have a less than 10% administrative cost.
    KSS
    24th Mar 2015
    3:15pm
    You are so right Oldie81. And when we've taxed "the rich" into oblivion, there will still be organisations and individuals with their hands out saying "the Government should pay more!"
    dougie
    24th Mar 2015
    3:26pm
    Jen, This figure is over and above the cost of wages and on costs plus office costs etc. I know the need to provide services is great but when you have organisations win funding and then sub out the service so that the original funded organisation only manages the overall operation this must add to costs.qq
    Jen
    24th Mar 2015
    3:35pm
    Ok, fair enough dougie. But I wonder why the Government is awarding these hard-fought-for grants to these types of organisations that are run this way? I'm sure they aren't all run in this way.
    dougie
    24th Mar 2015
    4:38pm
    Jen,

    You are so right, however in the current round of applications we can only assume that those organisations who received funding for 3 years, received it from the Rudd- Gillard- Rudd Government and who can wonder at the present Minister taking her time to review the situation. I just hope that she gives it to the performing agencies and deletes the money grubbers.
    Paulodapotter
    24th Mar 2015
    11:39pm
    We must have the services, Oldie81 so we must expect to pay for them.
    Oldie84
    25th Mar 2015
    10:30am
    I certainly agree Paulodapotter, I was questioning the method of delivery of these services as well as the cost. Having run my own small business I am more than aware of spending your Dollar efficiently.....
    Mar
    24th Mar 2015
    3:10pm
    The answer is to weed out the legal and illegal tax avoiders. This Government is taking it from the poor and more unfortunate and promoting the rich to get richer. They have the wrong focus. A society is only as good as how it supports its needy whether that be sick, aged or disabled.
    Paulodapotter
    24th Mar 2015
    11:40pm
    Good point, Mar
    tisme
    24th Mar 2015
    4:47pm
    why dont they cut thier own funding , Im suffering depression etc and there is no where i can afford to go nor anywhere I can get the help I need now. typical parasites to feed off those not able to defend themselves
    Paulodapotter
    24th Mar 2015
    11:44pm
    Now if we all suffered from depression, there would be enough votes to get rid of the suckers. If the government continues on it sociopathic path, we WILL be all suffering from depression in no time. Given self interest is a great motivator, we would have 'em out like rat down a drainpipe in a cyclone.
    Bling Bling
    24th Mar 2015
    5:09pm
    What a whole dam lot of whingers! with Labor/Greens etc running amok with their power..... how on earth can Australia move ahead, we appear to be the laughing stock for all the world to see! and appears we are fast becoming a welfare bludging whinging nation ..... be thankful for what we recieve ie;pensions.and live within our means as much as we can. No, I'm not rich and I have paid taxes and I voulunteer with fundraisers to help the needy .... was involved in the Black Dog Ride yesterday raising awareness for depression, rather then stay on the computer complaining and bitching, please it's just a tad sad that people have so much time to downgrade everyone and everything !!!
    Paulodapotter
    24th Mar 2015
    11:47pm
    Whose complaining? I love a ride in the morning with a bunch of weirdos blogging away on their computers.
    CindyLou
    25th Mar 2015
    10:21am
    Ditto
    viva
    24th Mar 2015
    5:17pm
    Disgusting if they stop mental illness funding,where would people go to get help? Put Abbot & Hockey into a mental illness institute for a month so they can experience first hand what and how things work. They sit in their lofty offices completely out of touch with every day life and hardships. Only wanting accolades for the bank balance of the country.
    Paulodapotter
    24th Mar 2015
    11:51pm
    Hey, Viva, they are as mad as March hares, but don't even know it. We'll toss them into their sanatoriums in the near future - albeit gold lined with our dollars. Didn't you see Howard tonight? Queer as a cloth hammer that bloke.
    particolor
    25th Mar 2015
    3:12pm
    I just heard on the Radio that John Howard was voted Best Australian Prime Minister ?? :-) :-) Where did they take the Poll ? In the Liberal Party Lunch Room ?? :-) :-)
    wally
    24th Mar 2015
    7:49pm
    After reading all of the comments so far, it is the same old hamsters running around the same old ideological wheel. If a sane person would read all of this, they would wind up depressed as well, if they were not depressed before.
    Paulodapotter
    24th Mar 2015
    11:53pm
    Wears your sense of humour, Wally. Yes, doesn't it!
    Crazy Horse
    25th Mar 2015
    12:15am
    These cuts are disgraceful. Memtal Health funding needs to ne dramatically increased not decreased.

    More attacks on the most vulnerable by this mean, nasty Government.
    bookwyrm
    25th Mar 2015
    3:41am
    This government has never showed any support for those with a mental illness and through their mouthpiece, The Daily Telegraph, keep portraying them as malingerers and bludgers. They have got puppet experts to say mental illness is episodic and people with a severe mental illness can mostly all work and should be taken off the disability support pension and placed on a working age payment. This has prompted the Australian and NZ Board of Psychiatrists to issue a statement denying that severe mental illness is an episodic disability.
    wally
    25th Mar 2015
    11:16am
    Hi Paulo. It does get a bit predictable, doesn't it? When you see the name of the poster, you can pretty well guess what sort of angle they are coming from in response to the question posed.
    As far as funding the 70 mental health organisations goes, some of us think the government should shovel out the money at all of them in a "spray and pray" willy nilly approach in the hope that some good will come of it. That has been the policy in the past when money was abundant. It ain't that way now.
    So what to do? I would make up a list and prioritize which organisations have provided the greatest benefit to the most people, from 1 to 70. Then I would make a similar list of organisations that would show the most promise in providing benefit. If the rankings on both lists coincide, you hopefully would have an idea of where money should go, and where it should not.
    Deciding who wins and who loses in this sort of arrangement would cause endless bouts of argie bargie and wrangling, but at least as a preliminary before handing out anything, those on the losing end would able to prepare an appeals case for increased funding. Is short, it would be a "separating the sheep from the goats" exercise before any money would be spent, but the money, hopefully, would be better targeted and sent to where it would do the most good.
    bookwyrm
    25th Mar 2015
    9:28pm
    Mental illness is no laughing matter and touches all echelons of society. The human AND economic cost is huge. Wait till one of those cold-hearted Libs loses a family member to suicide.
    particolor
    25th Mar 2015
    9:37pm
    Wont happen ! They will get the best Medical Help our money can buy !!
    MILA
    27th Mar 2015
    10:25am
    Mental health is as important of physical health. As we go for/have access to bowel tests, breast mamograms etc - mental assistance should be there for many. Unfortunately, when not done as it should in a 1st world country as Australia is, people end up homeless and/or committing crimes, suicide and more. Even something as depression ...."the blues" needs to be faced and treated: if not, well.....look at the recent air disaster in the Alps. From Mental health awareness /education is relevant and, some who end up using /abusing drugs/alcohol are in actual urgent need for help. Our national budget should not be making any cuts on this area - and, if so: will keep the police, ambulance and emergency services unable to keep the overload.