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Mental health inquiry hearings begin.

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DEMOCRATS MEDIA 05/260 WEDNESDAY 18 MAY 2005 SENATOR LYN ALLISON AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS LEADER MENTAL HEALTH INQUIRY HEARINGS BEGIN A Senate inquiry into mental health will tomorrow hear how police involved in shooting incidents, particularly where the victim has a mental illness, suffer severe ongoing psychological problems. Senator Lyn Allison, Democrats Leader and chair of the Mental Health Inquiry said the first public hearing tomorrow will hear submissions from the Police Federation of Australia (PFA), the Australian Medical Association (AMA), the Mental Health Council of Australia and the Centre for Mental Health Research. "The submission from the Police Federation highlights the flow-on affects of mental illness where people face the difficult task of dealing with the victims of Australia's inadequate mental health support services," Senator Allison said. "The mental health inquiry has received over 260 submissions, detailing widespread neglect and grossly inadequate support services for the mentally ill and their families in communities, courts and prisons. In other submissions: • The AMA say a decade or so after the deinstitutionalisation of mental health, governments did not ensure enough resources for the new community-based care structures to operate effectively. The AMA offers practical steps to eliminate the dysfunction resulting from inappropriate focus on episodic care, the Federal/State imbroglio, barriers between services which impair the continuum of care, over-specialisation of care, etc. • The Mental Health Council of Australia raises the lack of trained custodial officers resulting in unjust and unnecessary incarceration and human rights abuses of people with a mental illness. • The Centre for Mental Health Research point out that Australia spends 3% of health research funding on mental health whereas mental illness represents 19.1% of the disease burden, and call for a National Centre for Mental Health Research The Democrats-initiated inquiry will examine funding, treatment and training for mental health services and the overrepresentation of people with mental illness in detention and in jail. Media contact Katrina McGrath 0408 056 167