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    The MH Commission proposed by Lib/Nats sounds promising, but it would be good to know what sort of staffing they propose and how much salaries for them will cost; how often will they meet, what targets will they monitor, who do they believe will give the best value services to the various diagnostic groups (social workers, psychologists, family therapists, psychiatrists)? The rest of their plan sounds too vague to comment on.
    The Labor proposals are nicely detailed although they don’t state what sort of personnel will be providing services under the funded programs. I don’t like the idea that a specific researcher gets a great lump of funds they haven’t competed for on the open market, no matter how innovative or promising the program so far. Other researchers who compete for ARC and NHMRC money will be put offside! Better to provide salary and facilities for some research officers to be employed while directed by senior personnel already in NSW Mental Health. The Beyond Blue extension doesn’t sound enough to be meaningful since it must cover admin, communications, mental health workers and possible security- 12 months psychiatrist salary takes $250 000 already! The wonderful funding for the mothers/bubs program will have to be carefully allocated across buildings and staff as buildings cost a fortune- usually a lot more than first quoted for, especially when its all custom designed and built, not a couple of project homes cobbled together! I like the Labor proposals better than Libs, but it would help people deeply concerned about making the most of funds to see even more details and any flexibility with funds and personnel that may be shared with other health sub-sectors.

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    Melissa Sweet

    Melissa Sweet

    Sally Rose, Blogger-in-Chief, Global Access Partners, asked me to post this comment on her behalf:

    Not working in the field I am only able to judge the relative merits of those lists by tallying the numbers. Painting a rough picture of a $38million + commitment from Lib/Nats VS a $79.52Million + commitment from Labor.

    Given that spending twice as much doesn’t always produce twice as much benefit, and given that there is never enough money in the budget for every worthy initiative to receive funding I’d like to pose a hypothetical question.

    Let’s imagine the funding commitments were met halfway and the Mental Health Coordinating Council was given the opportunity to outline how to spend $60million on improving mental health services in Australia how would you advocate spending it?

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    At the moment, Western Australia is the only state with a mental health commission. Having been involved in the process – for a part of it anyway – my impression is that there are aspects of it which are quite promising. The old way of doing things in mental health is simply not working, and it is time to start something new. But in WA the commission does not have a legislative basis and the primary motivation is the government’s ‘markets are everything’ philosophy. so the commission becomes a market mechanisms, effectively, and a body that purchases services from mental health providers. the purchaser/provider relationship is thereby sharply divided.

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    Tully Rosen

    Hi Sally,

    As we outline in our “Call to Action” position paper, there are a number of high-priority and cost effective programs that could be immediately invested in that would provide substantial benefit to people living with mental illness in NSW. To date, Labor has been more financially supportive of our identified priority areas, while the Coalition has committed to overdue broad structural reform. Neither is anywhere near enough.

    Our greatest concern, along with many many others in the mental health sector, remains that mental health overall is grossly underfunded – NSW remains around the bottom of the rankings for spending on mental health, for the percentage of mental health funding allocated to community mental health, and for the percentage of mental health funding allocated to NGOs. We need to be talking billions of dollars.


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