National leadership is urgently needed to tackle the crisis in services for the mentally ill exposed by last night’s FOUR CORNERS program, says Barbara Hocking, Executive Director of mental health charity, SANE Australia.
While Federal and State politicians squabble over who is to blame for the crisis in Australia’s mental health services, those affected continue to endure increasingly inadequate clinical and support services, neglect and homelessness, sometimes with fatal consequences – as graphically shown in the Four Corners program.
‘The state of the mentally ill in Australia is a disgrace,’ admits Christopher Pyne, Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Health, but blames the States for under-funding. Morris Iemma and other State Premiers agree, but they, in turn blame Canberra.
‘The cynical blame-game of politicians is in marked contrast to the attitude of front-line community workers who work alongside those affected with energy and compassion every day with extremely limited resources,’ says Barbara Hocking. ‘It is totally unacceptable that those responsible for the crisis in mental health services in this country are using it to score cheap political points, rather than recognising it as national scandal which needs wide-ranging attention,’ says Barbara Hocking.
‘Both Federal and State governments share the responsibility,’ says Ms Hocking. ‘SANE calls on the Federal Health Minister, Tony Abbott, to show leadership with his State colleagues to re-vitalise the National Mental Health Strategy and negotiate funding for urgently needed services. With appropriate treatment most people with mental illness can make good levels of recovery. Without this, sadly and quite unnecessarily, too many Australians will end up on the street, missing, in prison or, most tragically of all, in a mortuary.’
Barbara Hocking is available for comment at 03 9682 5933
SANE Australia – A national charity working for a better life for Australians affected by mental illness.