Labor welcomes the overdue announcements by Minister Hunt of the Inter­generational Health and Mental Health Survey and of a child mental health plan.
The Opposition will provide bipartisan support to the Government to ensure these plans are properly funded and implemented.
The Government’s Mental Health Survey was due three years ago and it had, up until now, ignored calls from Labor get on with it. The last surveys were collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2007 and 1997.
With the survey reported to commence in 2020, and take three years to complete, Greg Hunt’s announcement must come with the guarantee he will not use the survey as an excuse to delay urgent investment and reform in mental health.
The child mental health plan was a key recommendation of the 2014 Mental Health Commission’s review of mental health programs and services. That means this third-term Liberal Government was told five years ago that it needed a strategy to help the one in seven Australian kids experiencing a mental health issue.
Around 600,000 children between the ages of four and 17 are affected by a clinically-significant mental health problem. Australia needs a plan to address this that is evidence-based using meaningful data and credible research. Existing services, including Headspace, are not keeping up with demand and young people are being forced to wait over 30 days before their first therapy session.
Professor Ian Hickie, founding director of Headspace, earlier this year confirmed that young people are dying while waiting to access Headspace services:
"People have died on those waiting lists, and they continue to suffer great harm on those waiting lists, just like they do in hospitals".
Labor stands committed to taking real action on mental health and will hold the Government to account on its promised investment in Australia’s health system.