“The Coalition Government has this week released the terms of reference for the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into mental health and announced the appointment of an Associate Commissioner for the inquiry.
The Federal Government will establish a Productivity Commission Inquiry into the role of mental health in the Australian economy and the best ways to support and improve national mental wellbeing.
Mental health challenges not only have a devastating personal impact, but significantly affect individuals’ employment and productivity. This has an effect on incomes, living standards, physical wellbeing, and social connectedness.
Mental health also affects businesses, the hospital system, and social services, and therefore has a large effect on Australia’s economy.”
See Part 1 below for Terms of Reference
” The Minister for Health promised the Inquiry would begin in October but delayed the release of the Terms of Reference until today.
Labor wrote to Minister Hunt and Treasurer Frydenberg seeking input into the Terms of Reference of this important Inquiry.
We are pleased the Inquiry will have regard to previous work by the National Mental Health Commission and the Productivity Commission but are disappointed emphasis on prevention, early intervention and the need for data has not been explicitly mentioned.Labor also hoped to see specific reference to the needs of young people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders , Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD ) and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer/Questioning and Allied ( LGBTIQ) communities in the Terms of Reference.
We are disappointed that the needs of these communities have not been explicitly addressed in the Terms of Reference despite the fact that, sadly, mental ill health and suicide continues to disproportionately impact these groups ”
Federal Opposition Press Release see Part 2
“ The Commission will consult with Indigenous leaders including the National Mental Health Commission’s Professor Helen Milroy and Professor Ngiare Brown on their expertise.
Four million Australians deal with some form of chronic or episodic mental health condition. As well as the individuals affected and people close to them, poor mental health also affects businesses, the hospital system, emergency services and social services.”
Minister for Health, Greg Hunt said he has consulted with state and territory health and mental health ministers as well as the National Mental Health Commission to seek their views on the scope and terms of reference of the inquiry.
Part 1 The terms of reference will include:
- Examining the effect of supporting mental health on economic and social participation, productivity and the Australian economy;
- Examining how sectors beyond health, including education, employment, social services, housing and justice can contribute to improving mental health and economic participation and productivity;
- Examining the effectiveness of current programs and initiatives across all jurisdictions to improve mental health, suicide prevention and participation, including by governments, employers and professional groups;
- Assessing whether the current investment in mental health is delivering value for money and the best outcomes for individuals, their families, society and the economy;
- Drawing on domestic and international policies and experience, where appropriate; and
- Developing a framework to measure and report the outcomes of mental health policies and investment on participation, productivity and economic growth over the long term.
To assist the Commission in undertaking this inquiry, Professor Harvey Whiteford has been appointed as an Associate Commissioner.
Professor Whiteford is a member of the National Mental Health Commission’s Advisory Board, Professor of Population Mental Health at the University of Queensland, and Professor of Global Health at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington.
He brings extensive experience to the role, having worked on mental health policy with the World Health Organisation, World Bank, OECD and governments in Europe, Africa and Asia. Authorised by Greg Hunt MP, Liberal Party of Australia, Somerville, Victoria.
The two Commissioners overseeing the inquiry are Dr Stephen King and Julie Abramson.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said: “The inquiry will be able to make recommendations as to how the Government can better support Australians living with mental illness, to enable them to lead fulfilling and contributing lives.”
The Commission will take submissions and will hold public consultations, including in regional areas.
All interested parties, including carers and patients, are encouraged to participate.
The inquiry will begin immediately and is due to report to Government within 18 months.
Part 2 Federal Opposition press release
While Labor welcomes the release of the Terms of Reference for the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health, we reiterate the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government should not use this Inquiry to delay action in progressing reform that is needed.
The Productivity Commission inquiry will be important to understanding the social and economic costs in relation to mental health. But sadly there have already been delays to getting the Inquiry underway. Questions remain about why this Inquiry is being initiated now, 18 months after former National Mental Health Commission chairman Professor Allan Fels called for it.
The Minister for Health promised the Inquiry would begin in October but delayed the release of the Terms of Reference until today.
Labor wrote to Minister Hunt and Treasurer Frydenberg seeking input into the Terms of Reference of this important Inquiry. We are pleased the Inquiry will have regard to previous work by the National Mental Health Commission and the Productivity Commission but are disappointed emphasis on prevention, early intervention and the need for data has not been explicitly mentioned.
Labor also hoped to see specific reference to the needs of young people, ATSI, CALD and LGBTIQ communities in the Terms of Reference. We are disappointed that the needs of these communities have not been explicitly addressed in the Terms of Reference despite the fact that, sadly, mental ill health and suicide continues to disproportionately impact these groups.
Too often the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government has played catch-up in this vital area of policy, approaching mental health reform from a piecemeal perspective. Australians living with mental ill health cannot afford more delays. The Productivity Commission Inquiry represents a real opportunity for reform and should not be squandered by this government.
The Morrison Government should be leading the states and territories with reform to ensure the 4 million Australians living with mental ill health get the vital support and services they need. Labor will be closely monitoring the progress of this important Inquiry.
Part 3 Background
This comprehensive inquiry will reveal the true impact of mental illness on the economy, and provide recommendations on how the Government can most effectively improve population mental health, and social and economic participation.
The Federal Government will spend an estimated $4.7 billion this year on mental health. Once state and territory government funding is added to this, the investment in mental health rises to around $9 billion per year – that is equivalent to $1 million per hour – every hour of every day.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said: “It is crucial that we know that this funding is delivering the best possible outcomes for individuals and their families, and that is one of the issues the inquiry will investigate.”
Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, said he has worked closely with the Prime Minister and Treasurer to finalise the terms of reference and establish the inquiry.
“Every year around four million Australians deal with some form of chronic or episodic mental health condition. Sadly, one in five Australians affected by mental illness do not seek help because of stigma,” Minister Hunt said.
“I have consulted with state and territory health and mental health ministers to seek their views on the scope and terms of reference of the inquiry and have welcomed their support.
“As we enter Mental Health Week it is important that we continue to shine a light on mental health and work hard to ensure we are providing the best possible support to Australians living with mental illness.”
The Productivity Commission will undertake broad consultation, including holding hearings in regional Australia and inviting public submissions. It will then make recommendations on measures to improve population mental health to help people lead full and productive lives.
The inquiry is due to begin later this month and the final report should be provided to the Government within 18 months.
The Morrison Government is committed to making a difference and has made mental health a key pillar in our Long Term Health Plan.
Our commitment is also reflected in our extra $338.1 million investment in suicide prevention, research, and programs for older Australians in this year’s Budget.
Representatives from more than 60 mental health organisations will meet with politicians at Parliament House today, Tuesday 27 November, to ask three key questions ahead of the 2019 Federal Election and Productivity Commission Inquiry.
The Mental Health Australia Parliamentary Advocacy Day will see key Ministers, Senators and MPs including Minister for Families and Social Services, The Hon Paul Fletcher MP Minister for Health The Hon Greg Hunt MP, and Shadow Minister for Ageing and Mental Health The Hon Julie Collins MP, meet with over 100 sector delegates to discuss mental health reform.
Advocacy efforts will focus on ensuring policy makers recognise the value of investment in mental health, asking parties to articulate their policies ahead of the election, address gaps in the NDIS, and keep funding programs that work while the Productivity Commission Inquiry is underway.
Mental Health Australia CEO Frank Quinlan says the timing is right for the sector as a whole to ask politicians to commit to expanding and reorienting mental health reform.
“Firstly, we will be asking the major parties to prepare standalone mental health policies as part of their 2019 election platforms and we will assess these policies ahead of the election,” said Mr Quinlan.
“We are looking for major parties to articulate their plans for systematically increasing investment in mental health services and programs over the coming decade, along with plans to address the social determinants of mental health.”
“Secondly, we will be asking for urgent commitments to address the major gaps that are opening up in psychosocial support and community based mental health as the NDIS is rolled out, and as related programs are being wound back.
“As we know, nearly 800,000 Australians report experiencing serious mental illness each year. Estimates suggest some 300,000 would benefit from individualised supports. However, only 64,000 will receive supports through the NDIS.”
“The current investments in ‘continuity of support’, new psychosocial support measures, and state-based community mental health, are inadequate to meet this demand. This issue continues to require urgent attention from policy- makers.”
“Thirdly, rather than waiting for the Productivity Commission’s report in 18 months’ time, we will be asking for continued investment in programs and services that are supported by evidence.”
“The KPMG and Mental Health Australia Report ‘Investing to Save’ provides an excellent starting point for this investment, with well documented initiatives – supported by the very best international evidence – with enormous potential to provide substantial return on investment to governments and the community.”
The 2018 Mental Health Australia Parliamentary Advocacy Day and Members Policy Forum will be held at Parliament House, Canberra TODAY Tuesday 27 November from 9:30am.