Reports today that the Butterfly Foundation, a helpline for people with eating disorders, has only been given 12 months funding certainty is another example of the chaos being created across the mental health system.
Minister for Health Sussan Ley’s refusal to take responsibility for the mess and guarantee continuity of care for those who rely on mental health services is symptomatic of the broader reform implementation which is leaving many services in limbo.
“Everyone knows that it’s the people living with a mental illness who must be at the centre of mental health reforms yet it’s increasingly clear that the Turnbull Government is bent on pursuing the reforms at the expense of the very people who use and rely on these services,” Senator Gallagher said.
“The implementation of these reforms has been nothing short of chaotic. The timelines are unreasonable, there is a lack of information available and no implementation plan to speak of.
“Mental health services have been trying desperately for months to get information about what will happen to the people who rely on their services after the majority of reforms kick-in from 1 July, and it appears some have now been given a band-aid solution with just weeks to go before the end of their current funding arrangements,” Senator Gallagher said.
The concerns raised by the Butterfly Foundation today are not isolated. There are widespread concerns across the sector including over the lack of transparency for funding decisions by the Turnbull Government with some services getting funding extensions for nine months, others for 12 months, while others are being defunded completely.
At the same time the early psychosis programs have been told they will be wound down.
Headspace centres will be required to compete for their funding with other services and many crucial services will be lost completely, such as the vital work being done by the Australian Child and Adolescent Trauma, Loss and Grief Network.
On top of this, the Turnbull Government stopped funding the $45 million National Partnership on Mental Health Reform in the Budget, leaving many services across the country scrambling to identify ways to keep operating after 1 July.
The Budget also scrapped funding for the Drought Assistance Package, which had a focus on mental health and well-being.
A Shorten Labor Government will work with service providers to enable a smooth transition under the reform agenda and ensure that people with a mental illness are put first.
Senator Katy Gallagher is Labor's Shadow Minister for Mental Health, Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness and the Shadow Minister Assisting the Leader on State and Territory Relations.