Report Recommends Action to Improve Mental Health Services in Regional Queensland

16, May, 2018

16/5/2018

Link to the full report can be found here.

Action must be taken to address a lack of services, higher rates of suicide and improve attitudes to positive mental health in rural and remote parts of Queensland.

Queensland Alliance for Mental Health CEO Kris Trott said a new joint report, informed by organisations providing mental health services across Queensland and the Northern Territory, revealed the extent of the problem in our most regional communities.

“Sadly, evidence shows suicide rates in remote and very remote areas occur at a much higher rate than our major cities, and particular groups like men, primary producers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are most at risk,” Ms Trott said.

“A Federal Senate inquiry is currently considering these issues and as part of that we’ve done a major submission with the Northern Territory Mental Health Coalition which highlights the biggest challenges in providing equitable mental health services in bush areas.

“These include cultural issues, particularly stigma, the extremely low rates of mental health professionals working in remote communities and the distances and costs involved in accessing services in country areas, to name just a few.

“The nature of the mental health workforce is one of the most critical issues, including a lack of bulk billing GPs, the cost of attracting and retaining staff in rural locations and the loss of experienced staff due to the lack of professional development options.”

Ms Trott said a rural and regional taskforce, totally independent from government, was needed to deliver a complete package of recommendations to transform the delivery of mental health services in rural and remote communities.

“We welcome the Federal Senate’s focus on this issue, but we need to involve grass-roots mental health providers and organisations delivering services on the ground in these communities in coming up with a proper solution,” she said.

“What is made clear in the evidence provided by a range of providers from rural locations right across Queensland and the Northern Territory is that it’s going to take significant focus and effort to address these inequalities.

“To improve attitudes towards mental health in rural and remote locations we need to improve services by making them more available and responsive.

“This will transform mental health across regional Queensland and deliver positive results for countless families and communities.”

– ENDS –

 

FACTS:

  • Despite about a third of Australians living in regional Australia, around 90 per cent of psychiatrists and two-thirds of mental health practitioners work in major cities.
  • Only three psychiatrists per 100,000 of population and 30 psychologists per 100,000 of population are employed in remote and very remote areas.
  • Evidence from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows mental health-related GP encounters in outer regional, remote and very remote communities is occurring at a far lower level than in more populated centres
  • The lack of bulk-billing GPs in rural and remote areas limits the access of low income workers to mental health plans.
  • The rate of suicide in young men aged 15-29 years who live outside major cities is almost twice as high as it is in major cities.
  • In Australia, it has been found that farmers have suicide rates around 1.5 to 2 times higher than the national average.

 

The QAMH is the peak body for the Community Mental Health Sector in Queensland. Representing more than 140 organisations and stakeholders across the State, the QAMH works with our members to build capacity, promote professionalism in the sector, facilitate innovative partnerships and advocate on behalf of people experiencing mental health issues.

Inquiries regarding this media release can be directed to the following Media Contacts:

Tim Braban – Senior Advisor – Policy and Advocacy

Mobile: 0413 022 519

Phone: 07 3252 9411

tbraban@qamh.org.au

Oi-Lai Leong – Communications & Events Officer

Phone: 07 3252 9411

oleong@qamh.org.au

Federal Budget 2018-19 – what’s in it for mental health?

9, May, 2018

Treasurer Scott Morrison last night handed down the 2018-19 Federal Budget, which many expect will be the last before the next election.

But what commitments has the Federal Government made in relation to mental health? The Queensland Alliance for Mental Health has done a quick explanation below.

 

Prioritising Mental Health Package

The following initiatives make up a Prioritising Mental Health package totalling more than $90 million. More information on this package can be found at this link – page 122-124.

Providing $37.6 million over four years from 2018-19 to improve follow-up care for people discharged from hospital following a suicide attempt. This includes $10.5 million for beyondblue to oversee the implementation of the Way Back Support Service in Primary Health Networks (PHNs) and $27.1 million for the PHNs to commission services to be accessed by Way Back Support Service Clients (contingent on co-contributions from states and territories).

Investing $500,000 over two years in The Junction Clubhouse Cairns to continue to support people with long-term mental health issues.

Providing $4.7 million over two years for Head to Health, which will provide users with access to evidence-based information and advice on mental health services through an improved telephone service and enhanced web portal.

Putting an additional $33.8 million over four years into Lifeline Australia to enhance its crisis telephone services. This will enable Lifeline to meet increasing demand for services and to be more responsive. This also includes an ongoing annual commitment of $15.5 million.

Providing $1.2 million to SANE Australia to deliver the Better Off With You suicide awareness campaign.

Investing an additional $12.4 million over four years in the National Mental Health Commission. This funding is targeted at strengthening the Commission’s oversight functions, including expanding its role under the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan (Fifth Plan).

 

Mental Health Research:

The Government is investing a total of $125 million over 10 years for the Million Minds Mental Health Research Mission. This funding should support priorities under the Fifth Plan.

 

NDIS:

There is additional funding of $92.1 million over five years to help provide continuity of support for people who are not eligible for the NDIS but are currently receiving supports under programs that are phasing out with the introduction of the scheme. There is also an additional $500,000 to undertake consultation and develop a new model for supported employment. A fact sheet on this measure can be found here.

The Federal Government is also providing $64.3 million over four years to establish a NDIS Jobs and Market Fund which will invest in initiatives to promote the development of the market for the NDIS workforce. A fact sheet on this measure can be found here.

The Budget also includes the updated budget costs of the NDIS over the forward estimates.

 

Aged care:

The Federal Government made a number of investments it believes will improve the quality of the aged care system. This includes $102.5 million to improve access to psychological services for older Australians. As highlighted in the Budget Papers, “mental health issues are under diagnosed and under treated in people over 65 with men over the age of 85 having the highest risk of suicide of all age groups”.

An investment of $82.5 million will enable commissioning of improved mental health services for Australians living in residential aged care. A further $20 million will go towards a pilot of services led by mental health nurses to target the mental health of older Australians who are still living at home and at risk of isolation.

Further information on these measures can be found at this link – page 119.

 

Rural Health:

The Government will provide $83.3 million over five years from 2017 18 for rural, regional and remote health outcomes by “aligning the distribution of the health workforce to areas of greatest need and building the capability of Australia’s medical practitioner workforce”. It also includes a focus on teaching, training, recruitment and retention.

A large focus of this is on general practice, supporting young doctors and on clinical areas. The main inclusion for mental health is through already announced funding to the Royal Flying Doctor service.

 

ANALYSIS:

This is the analysis of Community Mental Health Australia Executive Director Amanda Bresnan, who was in Canberra for last night’s Federal Budget:

In terms of Department of Health, the measures for mental health included are positive, if not unexpected. There is a focus on suicide prevention, with more money going to PHNs and the expansion of programs already in operation. The funding to Lifeline crisis support line had already been announced. Much of the funding is focused more on the crisis side of services, a pattern we are seeing in state and territory budgets as well.

The inclusion of a rural health strategy is a positive, however there is a not a strong role for the community managed mental health sector articulated and a focus on GPs and doctors. A comprehensive rural health strategy needs to include all aspects of the workforce, particularly those professions that are more likely to be the ones doing the work on the ground, which often is the community sector. CMHA have called for all parts of the sector to be included in an overall mental health workforce strategy.

The most significant inclusion for the sector is funding for Continuity of Support arrangements. The funding will go to the PHNs, however, it is unclear at this stage how this will be administered; what will be the eligibility criteria (e.g. do people have to be existing clients in PIR, PHaMs and D2DL or can they have been clients in the past); and what a continuity of support service will look like.

Department of Social Services are continuing to argue people have to test their eligibility to access the support. CMHA has stated strongly, and will continue to do so, that people should not have to test their eligibility and that the intent of the Continuity of Support policy must be applied in that people must be provided with the same level of access to services.

CMHA developed a continuity of support position statement, which predicted that PHNs would have a role in administering this funding. The statement notes that people, whether eligible for the NDIS or not, will have to access one of four pools of funding – NDIS, continuity of support, the $80 million from the 2017-18 Federal Budget, or the PHN flexible pool of mental health funding. People shouldn’t have to go through an expensive and stressful test of NDIS eligibility in order to access the services they need and are entitled to. Preventing access is against Australia’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disability.

There is also $64.3 million over four years from 2017‑18 to establish an NDIS Jobs and Market Fund, which will invest in targeted initiatives to promote the development of the market for the NDIS workforce. The Fund will develop resources to assist disability service providers to take advantage of NDIS opportunities, including provider toolkits, good practice guides and service coordination platforms. We welcome this initiative, however the key issue that remains for the community mental health sector is the loss of qualified expertise in the mental health workforce. This is an issue of safety and quality which won’t be addressed through such a measure as it is more complex than just encouraging more providers to come into the market. In fact it is about maintaining and enhancing existing expertise to be able to deliver appropriate support to complex clients.

Audit office inquiry highlights existing NDIS gaps, 3rd May 2018

3, May, 2018

3 May 2018

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Today’s release of the Queensland Audit Office (QAO) inquiry looking into the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) transition shows there is much more work to be done to improve outcomes for Queenslanders with a disability, Queensland Alliance for Mental Health CEO Kris Trott said.

The QAO report highlights that Queensland is well behind its rollout targets, which is a significant risk as the 1 July NDIS rollout date for major centres including Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Logan, Redlands and Cairns draws closer.

Ms Trott said this was the latest report to highlight existing rollout issues that need to be addressed to ensure people interacting with the scheme achieved a positive outcome.

“There’s no doubt the NDIS is delivering encouraging outcomes for people, but that there are particular groups that are having less positive experiences with the scheme,” she said.

“While there is much work happening to improve pathways, individuals with psychosocial disability are continuing to highlight poor experiences dealing with the National Disability Insurance Agency.  They highlight a lack of understanding of their unique situation and difficulties in applying for a plan.

“These are all factors in the low number of people with a psychosocial disability receiving approved plans.

“There are also ongoing issues in relation to the rollout amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

“Our members also remain concerned about the gap in services that could emerge for people who have issues, but don’t receive an NDIS plan.

“For example, approximately 64,000 people with a psychosocial disability will be covered under the NDIS, but as many as 690,000 Australians experience a severe mental illness.”

Ms Trott said she welcomed the QAO report and thanked the authors for the opportunity to brief them on issues of concern to the community managed mental health sector.

“While the QAO report has made important recommendations around improving scheme governance, we believe there should be a future focus on potential scheme gaps and what can be done to address them as well,” she said.

“This is a once-in-a-generation reform and it’s vital we continue to work together to get it right.”

– ENDS –

Enquiries regarding this media release can be directed to the following Media Contacts:

Tim Braban – Senior Advisor – Policy and Advocacy
Phone: 07 3252 9411
Mobile: 0413 022 519
tbraban@qamh.org.au

Oi-Lai Leong – Communications & Events Officer
Phone: 07 3252 9411
oleong@qamh.org.au

 

Media Release: National report identified NDIS gaps for people living with mental illness, 29th January 2018

30, January, 2018

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People with psychosocial disabilities are facing being left out of NDIS support due to gaps in planning, eligibility and service support.  With 1 in 5 Queenslanders experiencing a mental illness annually, with about 3.5% of those people experiencing severe mental illness, it is essential that support systems are responsive and gaps are filled.

‘The Mind the Gap report, released today by Community Mental Health Australia (on behalf of State and Territory peak bodies) and the University of Sydney, highlights significant and important gaps in the roll-out of the NDIS,’ said Ms Kris Trott, CEO of the QAMH.  ‘We know that many people with psychosocial disabilities in Queensland are being left behind in the roll-out.  This report confirms what we are hearing from our members and the broader community mental health sector.’

Although the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIS) is developing new pathways, taking into account the experiences of people with psychosocial disabilities and other complex issues, there is a still a long way to go.

The ‘Mind the Gap’ Final Report highlights a range of gaps that will particularly affect people with psychosocial disabilities in Queensland.  The QAMH acknowledges the specific obstacles faced by Queensland community mental health services, including dealing with challenges brought by remoteness, and the increasing needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who are 44% more likely to experience mental illness than non-Indigenous people.

‘We are most concerned about the affect that these gaps, not the least of which is access to planning and supports, will have on our members.’ says Ms Trott.  ‘As community mental health organisations they already deal with limited funding, increasing and complex need, vast geographical distances, and the challenges of hiring and retaining talented and experienced staff.  This is another set of obstacles for our members and the people they serve.’

In particular, the report highlights the significant numbers of people with psychosocial disability who will not be eligible to access the NDIS.  ‘We know that these people continue to present to our service providers, putting further pressure on under-funded organisations,’ explains Ms Trott.  ‘The QAMH will continue to advocate on behalf of these services, working with them, and our political decision makers, to ensure ongoing and reliable funding for the thousands of people in Queensland who need help, but who are ineligible for the NDIS.’

Mr Craig Stanley-Jones, Chairman of the QAMH, said ‘we call upon the Federal and State Governments, including the NDIA, to seriously consider adopting the recommendations of this report.  Certainly, the QAMH will be working closely with our members, funding bodies and the CMHA to develop and deliver responses to all fourteen recommendations.’

For further information, the University of Sydney report can be found at http://bit.ly/2GvZOmz

– ENDS –

Enquiries regarding this media release can be directed to the following Media Contacts:

Simone Finch, Acting Director – Engagement & Partnerships
Phone: 07 3252 9411
Mobile: 0499 107 349
sfinch@qamh.org.au

Oi-Lai Leong – Communications & Events Officer
Phone: 07 3252 9411
oleong@qamh.org.au

 

 

Media Release: QAMH welcomes Parliamentary inquiry into mental health in the NDIS 5th December 2016

6, December, 2016

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The Queensland Alliance for Mental Health (QAMH) welcomes the announcement that the Australian Parliament Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS has established an inquiry into the provision of services under the NDIS for people with psychosocial disabilities related to a mental health condition.

QAMH Chief Executive Officer Kris Trott acknowledges that the NDIS is an excellent system with the potential to change the lives of thousands of Australians, providing them with individualised packages to support their personal circumstances, but sees the Inquiry as a positive step.

“Over the last six months, our members have been telling us of the many challenges they have been experiencing in the NDIS transition, and how mental health has not been a perfect fit into a system designed for disabilities,” Ms Trott said.

“We, along with peak bodies across Australia, are seeing more and more consumers, carers and service providers concerned with the NDIS’ ability to meet the needs of all consumers in the mental health sector when the NDIS is fully rolled out in 2019.

“We need clarity around how several implementation issues will be managed, such as what support will be received by individuals that will be ineligible for the Scheme.

“As we have stated before, it is critical that those ineligible for NDIS are not left without support, that funds are not withdrawn before the NDIS funding arrives and that service delivery pricing is appropriate for the workforce.

“This Inquiry will provide QAMH and service providers with the opportunity to express their concerns through the submission process.”

Community Mental Health Australia’s (CMHA) President Liz Crowther said that a focus on rehabilitation is critical for people with mental health concerns, however, for some, this may not be possible under the NDIS.

“Funding for a number of Federally funded mental health programs is being removed and placed in the NDIS and many of the people who now receive these services won’t be eligible for the NDIS,” Ms Crowther said. “The directive has also been given to Primary Health Networks (PHNs) to not commission psychosocial services.

“This means that a growing number of people will not get their community-based rehabilitation needs met. We are growing increasingly concerned about what will happen to these people.

“CMHA is strongly advocating for options to be developed for funding services for people living with a mental illness who are ineligible for the NDIS and currently access Federally funded programs, ensuring their rehabilitation and disability support needs are met whether eligible or not.

“CMHA welcomes this inquiry and looks forward to engaging with the Committee to properly investigate and examine these vital issues.”

Submissions to the inquiry close on 27 February 2017 and more information is available at the Parliament of Australia website.

#ends

Enquiries regarding this media release can be directed to Manager, Business Development and Membership, Sue Pope on 0408 438 624 or email spope@qamh.org.au.

To arrange an interview with Ms Kris Trott, CEO of QAMH or one of our member organisations, please call our office on 07 3252 9411.

Media Release: announcement of a $350 million mental health plan 10th October 2016

11, October, 2016

Queenslanders to be among the healthiest people in the world by 2026 with the announcement of a $350 million mental health plan

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The Palaszczuk Government has today unveiled a new $350 million plan to further strengthen its commitment to supporting Queenslanders living with mental health, alcohol and drug issues.

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services the Hon Cameron Dick MP today celebrated Queensland Mental Health Week by announcing Connecting Care to Recovery, a five-year plan to guide the government’s investment in mental health and alcohol and other drug services.

“This new plan – funded by an additional $350 million over five years – aims to significantly increase funding to mental health after three years of LNP cuts drove Queensland’s staffing and spending on mental health to the lowest in Australia,” said Minister Dick.

“The plan focuses on providing access to mental health, and alcohol and other drug services across the continuum and in a variety of settings.

“It will also expand the capacity and range of specialised, contemporary service options available to deliver responsive and individualised care.”

The plan includes initiatives such as:

  • Investing more than $87 million of new funding into services for children and young people, including $5.2 million to expand the Ed-LinQ program over five years to support more schools to better help students experiencing mental health issues.
  • Growing investment in new areas of need, including mental health services helping indigenous Queenslanders, the LGBTIQ community and new mothers.
  • Investing $43 million over five years towards alcohol and drug services provided by non-Government agencies.

“As a government, we are dedicated to fulfilling our goal of Queenslanders being among the healthiest people in the world by 2026, and mental health is a crucial determinant of an individual’s health and wellbeing,” said Minister Dick.

Kris Trott, CEO of the Queensland Alliance for Mental Health, commends Minister Dick for his commitment to working collaboratively across the service system and investing in mental health services, particularly those for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, mothers and infants, transcultural populations, forensic referrals, people with eating disorders and rural and remote populations.

“The commitment to increase and improve in-reach to individuals admitted to bed-based services and a range of specialist alcohol and other drug treatments including assessment, psychosocial interventions and care coordination delivered in the community through Hospital and Health Services’ and non-government organisations, is an important step in providing adequate health services for Queenslanders,” Ms Trott said.

“This funding announcement comes at the beginning of National Mental Health Week, which aims to promote social and emotional well-being, encourage people to maximise their health potential, and maintain good mental health.  A move to a more person-centred and recovery-oriented service delivery is a worthy investment.”

For more information about the plan visit http://www.qldalliance.org.au.

If you or someone you know needs support you can phone 13 HEALTH, the Alcohol and Drug Information Service on 1800 177 833 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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Media Release: More than 200 of Queensland’s most vulnerable left in limbo 24th June 2016

25, June, 2016

Organisations affected by cuts in the 2016 Federal Budget to the National Partnership Agreement (the Agreement) are searching for answers, as funding for the Housing and Support Program (HASP) and Personalised Support Services (PSS) is set to be discontinued from 1 July 2016.

While formal written notification is yet to be received, QAMH is of the understanding that the State Government will not fund these programs that are critical for the support of more than 200 people with complex mental health needs in Queensland.

The Agreement currently provides funding to organisations to deliver critical community mental health supports.  This funding is essential, as the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will be rolled out as a staged process over the next three years in Queensland. There will be more than 200 people with complex needs including institutionalisation, intellectual disability, alcohol and other drug use, acquired brain injury in addition to mental health issues without funding and service provision, until access to the NDIS is available in their region.

Queensland Alliance for Mental Health (QAMH) Acting Chair, Craig-Stanley Jones was disappointed that there are no solutions forthcoming to addressing the gap that the funding discontinuation creates.

“Whilst the mental health sector is doing, and will continue to do, all it can to support affected parties with the resources it has available, it simply will not be adequate,” Mr Stanley-Jones said. “These circumstances will be unprecedented for participants accessing the HASP and PSS who have always been supported by state and federal funding bodies. It is disappointing that there does not appear to be any solution coming from the State or Commonwealth as to how the needs of our most vulnerable community members are to be met going forward; some of whom receive up to 30 hours of support weekly.”

QAMH CEO, Kris Trott acknowledged the frustration with the political circumstances that have led to this problem.

“We can see the challenges funding bodies face, particularly with the Commonwealth Government currently in caretaker mode. However, it is untenable that community members and the organisations that support them remain in limbo with no solution forthcoming; responsibility must be assumed somewhere along the line. The Commonwealth and State governments need to recognise the seriousness of the situation and determine a resolution before June 30 and the clock is ticking,” Ms Trott said.

“QAMH has been working against the clock as 1 July looms. We have written to the State Minister for Health to raise concerns on behalf of our members, and to request clarification on the funding arrangements for those affected. We have met with representatives from Queensland Health to discuss this issue and its impacts. We have requested an urgent meeting with the State Minister for Health, who is, however, on leave and unavailable until 27 June. Finally, we are currently writing to the Queensland Premier, Federal Minister for Health, Federal Shadow Minister for Mental Health, and the Federal Opposition Leader to raise awareness of this issue and the plight of more than 200 vulnerable community members.”

QAMH will continue to advocate for the community mental health sector and will continue to keep the public informed of any response to this issue.

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 #ends

Media Release: State Peak Body calls for party leaders to support long-term mental health goals 7th June 2016

8, June, 2016

Mental health must be made a priority for this Federal election, says the Queensland Alliance for Mental Health (QAMH).

“There is still much to be done to reform Australia’s mental health system,” CEO of QAMH said. “It is vital to the health and wellbeing of millions of Australians that all political parties strengthen their efforts to improve the lives of people who experience mental illness and their carers.”

“We are asking party leaders to support mental health, particularly for ‘at-risk’ populations. There are important reforms underway and these cannot be forgotten during the current electoral cycle,” CEO of QAMH said.

“If we want to significantly reduce the rates of suicide, a collaborative approach across all levels is required. Preventing suicide is everyone’s responsibility. Party leaders, indeed all parties and candidates, can show their support for mental health by committing to long-term measures to improve mental health outcomes in Australia.

We have written to leaders asking for a long-term commitment to:

Reducing the national suicide rate
Improving the physical health of people with a mental illness
Increasing employment rates for people experiencing mental illness and their carers
Increasing mental health consumer and carer participation and choice in national policy design and implementation
Maintaining current overall levels of investment in mental health, with measures that support full reinvestment of cost efficiencies and savings.
“Changing political fortunes have left services with uncertainties surrounding funding and service provision.  This creates an environment where people who live with mental illness and their carers face the difficult task of navigating a complex and ever-changing system.”

QAMH will liaise with Mental Health Australia who will be producing a ‘scorecard’ to be released in a few weeks to see how the major parties respond to the request.

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Media Release: Cuts to mental health services to have significant consequences for Queenslanders May 2016

5, May, 2016

More than 200 people living with mental health concerns in Queensland will be significantly affected by the cuts to the National Partnership Agreement (the Agreement) as a result of the 2016 Federal Budget handed down by the Treasurer on 3 May 2016.

The Agreement currently provides funding to organisations to deliver critical community mental health supports.  This funding is essential as the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will be rolled out as a staged process over the next three years in Queensland. There will be more than 200 people with complex needs including institutionalisation, intellectual disability, alcohol and other drugs, acquired brain injury in addition to mental health issues without funding and service provision, who may not be eligible for a package under the NDIS.

Queensland Alliance for Mental Health (QAMH) is the peak body for Queensland’s community mental health sector, representing 132 member organisations, 34 of which receive funding for Housing and Support Program (HASP) and Personalised Support Services (PSS). Ms Kris Trott, QAMH CEO, was very concerned to hear of this decision due to the impact it will have on the community mental health sector post 30 June this year.

“The decision to not extend the Agreement will result in a loss of $10.4 million dollars in Queensland and $45.2 million dollars nationally” Ms Trott commented.

Cathy O’Toole, QAMH State Council President reflected on the impact to regional and rural communities. “These cuts will see people with significant mental health concerns left without support and at risk of losing their homes or being readmitted to a hospital.  The funding reduction will have a devastating effect, particularly in regional and rural Queensland where organisations not only provide critical services to vulnerable people but also provide jobs in areas with a high unemployment rate”, said Ms O’Toole.

“QAMH are calling for both State and Federal governments to clarify how the effects of this cut will be managed before any vital services and supports are affected. Our member organisations are extremely concerned”, Ms Trott commented.

For many organisations that provide services in regional Queensland, these cuts will see a significant number of employees potentially lose their jobs with little other employment prospects available to them”.

Ms Trott explains, “a member reported to QAMH that this funding improved health outcomes for clients with an extensive inpatient history. The loss of funding will impact a number of clients with pervasive and persistent mental illness, some of whom require twice daily support to ensure that they can live a quality, independent life of their choosing in the community, thus maintaining a positive mental health status.

QAMH will be closely monitoring sector response and feedback through this transition, and will continue to advocate for the community mental health sector.

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Media Release: QAMH supports hard hitting letter to COAG leaders’ retreat participants 17 July 2015

18, July, 2015

The Queensland Alliance for Mental Health (QAMH), Queensland’s peak body for the mental health sector, is one of over 90 health and welfare organisations which have signed a hard hitting letter to the Prime Minister and State leaders imploring them to work together to reform Australia’s failing mental health system.

The letter, coordinated by Mental Health Australia and today sent to Federal and State leaders ahead of next week’s COAG Leaders’ Retreat, refers to previous COAG agreements, industry reports and even correspondence from COAG saying things should and will change, but insists not enough has been done.

QAMH Acting Chief Executive Officer, Amara Bains, said the Federal and State governments should act on commitments made in 2012 by implementing national, whole-of-life, outcomes-based targets to drive reform.

“We support a fully funded National Mental Health Agreement which assigns responsibilities across multiple portfolios,” Ms Bains said.

“To address mental health issues we need a whole-of-government approach which means engaging with health, social and community services, education, employment, housing and justice.

“Collaborative healthcare can help address mental health issues before they become major problems and ultimately lead to a reduction in spiralling hospital costs.

“The Federal Government is mostly responsible for primary health providers and the State Governments are accountable for state hospitals, but the budgets of both are under increasing strain. It’s time to work together.”

The mental healthcare industry is also calling for increased investment in early intervention and prevention programs, expanded and streamlined services in the community directly where they are needed, and a guarantee of an acceptable standard of services for Australians who experience mental illness, and their carers.

Ms Bains said that the health sector will continue to struggle until someone stands up and champions genuine and significant change.

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#ends