In the shadow of a disappointing Federal Budget for mental health, HSU National today provided a way forward focused on prevention, intervention and integration in their submission to a Productivity Commission inquiry.
Branches of HSU National proudly advocate for workers in the Mental Health system.
The Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into the Social and Economic Benefits of Improving Mental Health (the Inquiry) provides an opportunity to give voice to some of society’s most vulnerable members and affect much needed change.
The centrepiece of the HSU’s submission is a recommendation to urgently redesign therapeutic environments for mental health services. The redesign must include two complimentary components:
- Psychiatric Intensive Care Units embedded in Hospital Emergency Departments to take the pressure of hospitals and the right staffing profiles to better manage high-risk behaviours, including violence.
- Recovery and Wellbeing Hubs that are multidisciplinary, integrated and focused on prevention and early intervention. The proposed ‘wrap around’ models of care would finally provide services that place people at the centre. These would be publicly owned and run based on the successful GP Super Clinic programme.
Last Tuesday’s Budget outlined $736.6m in new initiatives, including outsourced services, further reflecting the inadequate attention mental health receives from the Federal health spend. Despite being responsible for over 12% of the total disease burden in Australia, mental health receives only 7.4% of government health expenditure.
In their submission, the HSU also demonstrates the emotionally, physically and mentally demanding work performed day-in and day-out by the mental health workforce. The evidence provided by HSU members points to an urgent need to provide a new Mental Health specialisation in our universities and TAFES, and see national harmonisation of education and training.
Low wages and recruitment and retention of staff is also a critical issue. The HSU recommends Government funding to be tied to providers having fair pay and conditions for their workforce.
Quotes attributable to Tim Jacobson, Acting National Secretary, Health Services Union
“We must urgently redesign the mental health system if we are to tackle the chronic inefficiencies and lack of integration in this country. But any reform must come with secure, long-term funding for infrastructure and services.”
“This model of integrated care is about critical early intervention and prevention and will mean lower rates of hospital admissions.”
“The rate of worker turnover in mental health due to stress and low pay is a national shame. Our members working in mental health are skilled and dedicated, but are being let down by a lack of Government strategy for workforce planning.”
“Tuesday’s budget was another case of kicking the can down the road on mental health. If we are serious about delivering better mental health for all Australians, we need real Government investment now.”
Mick Bellairs, National Campaigns and Projects Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org