NACCHO Mental Health Update :NATSILMH response to the National Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services:


‘Promising Start, But Meet With Us to Discuss the Detail’, Say Indigenous Leaders

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership in Mental Health (NATSILMH) welcomed the Australian Government’s response to the National Mental Health Commission’s National Review of Mental Health Services and Programmes last Thursday, but reserved its final judgment.

Please find below a media release from the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leaders in Mental Health (NATSILMH),  outlining the group’s position on the Australian Government’s response to the National Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services.

Photo Above :Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health leaders from all over Australia in Perth on June 23 and 24

NATSILMH Chair Professor Pat Dudgeon said:

‘In particular, we welcome the $85m new funding promised to Indigenous mental health, and the broad recognition of our wellbeing and mental health needs as a priority. Further, the commitment to a ‘stepped’ mental health system, a digital mental health gateway, regional level planning and the integration of our mental health, suicide prevention, alcohol and drug services building on the social and emotional wellbeing concept all hold great promise. But we need to meet with the Australian Government and learn more before we can wholeheartedly endorse the response.’

NATSILMH and Australian Suicide Prevention Advisory Council member Ms Adele Cox is concerned about Indigenous suicide prevention:

‘The response discusses ‘refocusing efforts to prevent Indigenous suicide’ but does not elaborate. In particular, there is no indication as to whether the $17.8m pledged to the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy continues to be quarantined, or whether it has been counted in the $85m of new funding. We need clarification in both areas’, she said.

NATSILMH member Mr Tom Brideson is concerned about workforce:

‘The response focuses on using the existing workforce better. But it is critical that gaps are filled particularly in those rural and remote areas where mental health services are almost non-existent, and that means training and employing additional staff in addition to upskilling existing staff’, he said.

NATSILMH member Professor Tom Calma AO also struck a note of caution:

‘Of course, the additional Indigenous mental health funding and focus is welcome, but the reliance on Primary Health Network-led regional planning has risk. Requiring the PHNs to proactively support Indigenous communities and services to be partners in these planning processes, and to be accountable for better mental health outcomes over time, is key. It is also important that the roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme for Indigenous people living with a psychiatric disability, and a broader, preventative approach to reducing the contribution of negative social determinants to mental illness among us, is coordinated with this planning,’ he said.

Professor Dudgeon added:

‘It is also critical that the National Service Planning Framework that will guide regional planning incorporates the National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing as an overarching Indigenous mental health and related areas service planning framework.’

She closed by saying:

‘The next step of the response, where much of the detail will be decided, is critical. NATSILMH welcomes the additional funding and congratulates the Australian Government on a promising start. But, as a priority, we call on Ministers Ley, Nash and Scullion to maintain the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group as their primary ongoing source of advice for this next step. Further, to meet with Indigenous mental health, suicide prevention and substance abuse leaders and stakeholders to discuss this next step at the national and regional levels. Such a partnership approach will help ensure we get the detail right, and that the reforms result in better mental health and related outcomes for our peoples.’

NACCHO Promotion Travelling CTG exhibition 2016

The exhibition of 24 photographic images, melded with a series of video interviews embedded within the images will stimulate individual thinking and dialogue relating to the 10th anniversary of ‘Close the Gap’ campaign in March 2016.

The exhibition offers valuable insight into the workings of Indigenous health including the social, economic and cultural impact of organisations and individuals.

The exhibition will also be offered to other major Aboriginal and Health conferences who wish to celebrate Aboriginal Health and Close the Gap.

 Submit your “Expression of Interest ” to host the exhibition in 2016


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