Last night on Q&A the Prime Minister publically overruled his Health Minister by agreeing to protect headspace centres and to restore funding to early psychosis centres exposing deep divisions between the Prime Minister and his Health Minister.
Prior to the Prime Minister’s intervention, early psychosis centres were due to be closed permanently in South Australia; other centres were facing funding cuts of 25 per cent growing to 70 per cent before being wound down completely in 2018; and headspace centres were going to be put out to competitive tender.
With just two weeks until the cuts were to kick in, and with the Prime Minister’s new commitment to supporting headspace into the future and keeping the early psychosis centres open, the Government must immediately provide a guarantee in writing about what the new arrangements will be.
The latest backflip by the Prime Minister is in direct conflict with the Health Minister who has spent months defending her decision to close early psychosis centres and make headspace centres contestable.
The Health Minister confirmed this in person to headspace managers during a speech earlier this year and letters from the Department of Health confirmed the impending closure of the early psychosis centres as recently as two weeks ago.
It’s very clear that the Health Minister was left in the dark about the Prime Minister decision with her own media statement just three days ago confirming that the Turnbull Government’s previous position.
The backflip from Malcolm Turnbull is welcome news for the thousands of young people with mental health problems who rely on these services and for the dedicated staff who support them.
After months of uncertainty for headspace centres and with early psychosis centres already planning to wind down or close their operations there can be no more delays.
The young people who rely on these services deserve nothing less but certainty going forward.
TUESDAY, 21 JUNE 2016
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.