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Thursday, 26 November 2015
Page: 13891

Mental Health

Mrs SUDMALIS (Gilmore) (14:08): My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister inform the House of the vital contribution that effective mental health services make to Australia's social and economic future?

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:08): I thank the honourable member for her question. Australia's greatest assets are not underground. They are the men and women of Australia—all of us and the rest of our 23 million brilliant Australians. Our greatest asset is our human capital through their talents, their enterprise and their capacity to find new and better ways of doing things through their imagination. That is why mental health is such a significant issue for the health and wellbeing of Australians and their families but also for how we perform as an economy. Nothing diminishes the human capital of Australia more than mental ill-health. Nothing diminishes what Professor Ian Hickie calls 'the mental wealth of our nation' than that—the debilitating impact of mental illness.

Unlike other chronic and degenerative diseases which we focus on with billions of dollars, with compassion and with great attention, mental illness often strikes in the prime of a person's life and it often strikes before they have even properly commenced adulthood.

Currently, the cost of mental illness is estimated to be four per cent of GDP in developed countries. The Commonwealth alone spends $10 billion a year on mental health, and around 60 per cent of this is in welfare support services. It is absolutely vital that we deliver mental health services in a manner that is agile, flexible and modern and uses 21st century technology. And so today, with the Minister for Health, we released the government's response to the National Mental Health Commission's review of mental health programs and services. Our response is about delivering a modern, 21st century mental health system. It puts the individual at the centre of the mental health system. It provides real choice and contestability of mental health services.

Now, our priority as a government is jobs and growth. It is ensuring that our children and our grandchildren have jobs in the future—more jobs and better jobs, greater opportunities, more investment, more enterprise. We know that our economic output is a function of participation, population and productivity. Mental illness diminishes participation and it diminishes productivity. It is estimated that around 37 per cent of people affected by mental ill-health are either unemployed or not in the labour force. This mental health program that we have announced today, these changes and these recommendations that we have adopted, will strongly contribute to ensuring that we have the jobs and growth that Australia deserves.