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Mental Health Forum helps Minister connect with the community



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THE HON MARK BUTLER MP Minister for Mental Health and Ageing

MEDIA RELEASE

30 November 2010

Mental Health Forum Helps Minister Connect with the Community

Minister for Mental Health and Ageing Mark Butler will hold the first of a series of nation-wide Mental Health Forums in Adelaide today as part of the Gillard Labor Government’s commitment to genuine mental health reform.

Over the next three weeks, Minister Butler will travel to 14 locations around Australia to meet with mental health consumers and carers to hear first-hand their lived experiences.

Minister Butler said meeting with consumers and carers and hearing their thoughts and ideas about issues closest to them is a critical part of developing better mental health policies and programs for all Australians.

“We are committed to ensuring Australia has a sustainable and effective mental health system and we are taking the time needed to get this right.

“Since I became Minister for Mental Health, I have been meeting with individuals and organisations to hear their first-hand experiences and ideas of how to improve our mental health system.

“The forums that start today will greatly assist me in gaining a better understanding of the issues and informing future options.”

Minister Butler said the Gillard Labor Government has already begun to strengthen mental health delivery.

“Prime Minister Gillard has made it clear that mental health will be an important second term agenda item for the Government and has committed an additional $274 million over four years for the Taking Action to Tackle Suicide package,” he said.

“This will provide more services to those at greatest risk of suicide, fund more direct suicide prevention and crisis intervention, provide more services and support to men who are at greatest risk of suicide, and promote good mental health and resilience in young people. “As part of the last Budget, we announced $176 million would be provided to tackle immediate gaps and improve the mental health system as part of the National Health and Hospitals Network (NHHN).

“Improvement of services for people with severe mental illness will also benefit through a $1.6 billion investment to expand sub-acute care facilities as part of the NHHN. Extra community-based residential mental health beds will ease transitions from hospital to the community and reduce the need for hospitalisation.

“Altogether, funding for mental health specific programs (including Indigenous programs) in the period between 2010-11 and 2013-14 will nearly triple to $1.4 billion, compared with $516.3 million provided between 2004-05 and 2007-08.

“This is on top of funding for mental health under the Medical Benefits Scheme and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.”

Minister Butler said the Government is determined to listen to a range of views and put in place a connected and sustainable mental health service for the future that works for all people affected by mental ill health and their carers.

“The Mental Health Forums have generated a great deal of interest and in most locations they are booked out. This shows me that the Australian people are keenly interested in providing the Government with their views, and I encourage them to

continue to do so.

“Given this, if anyone has tried to attend but were unable due to oversubscription, I urge those people to inform me of their views by going to www.mentalhealth.gov.au and follow the link to our comments and suggestions site.”

The Mental Health Forums are being hosted by the Mental Health Council of Australia (MHCA), the peak national non-government organisation representing and promoting the interests of the Australian mental health sector.

Members of the MHCA include national organisations representing consumers, carers, special needs groups, clinical service providers, public and private mental health service providers, researchers and state/territory community mental health peak bodies.

Details of the forums, which are being organised by the Mental Health Council of Australia with funding from the Australian Government, are attached.

For more information, please contact Mr Butler’s office on 02 6277 7280

Mental Health Council of Australia - www.mhca.org.au