Media Releases | Queensland Alliance for Mental Health Inc.

Media Releases

5 December 2016

QAMH welcomes Parliamentary inquiry into mental health in the NDIS

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we have stated before, it is critical that those ineligible for NDIS are not left without support, that funds are not withdrawn before the NDIS funding arrives and that service delivery pricing is appropriate for the workforce.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

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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.


10 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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Enquiries regarding this media release can be directed to the Manager, Communications, Engagement & Training, Amy Zeegers on 0403 302 992, 07 3252 9411 or email azeegers@qamh.org.au.


More than 200 of Queensland’s most vulnerable left in limbo

24 June 2016

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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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Enquiries regarding this media release can be directed to the Manager, Business and Membership Development, 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.

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State Peak Body calls for party leaders to support long-term mental health goals

7 June 2016

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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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Enquiries regarding this media release can be directed to the Manager, Communications, Engagement and Training, Amy Zeegers on email azeegers@qamh.org.au.

To arrange an interview with Ms Kris Trott, CEO of QAMH, please contact; Julia Riordan, Executive Assistant to CEO | jriordan@qamh.org.au  | 07 3252 9411

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Cuts to mental health services to have significant consequences for Queenslanders

5 May 2016

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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.

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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Enquiries regarding this media release can be directed to the Manager, Communications, Engagement and Training, Amy Zeegers on 0403 302 992 or email azeegers@qamh.org.au.

To arrange an interview with Ms Cathy O’Toole, QAMH State Council President, Ms Kris Trott, CEO of QAMH or one of our member organisations, please call our office on 07 3252 9411.

 

 

 

QAMH supports hard hitting letter to COAG leaders’ retreat participants

17 July 2015

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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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For further information please contact:

Lee McLean, PPR, 3309 4702 or 0411 868 348