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  1. 1

    John Mendoza

    Sebastian you have been very gentle on this latest 5th National Mental Health Plan. Clearly no one was meant to know it was released. I cannot recall a national policy or plan from any Minister, being released on a Saturday. When governments want something to disappear and not be picked up in media, its released late on a Friday or worse, Easter Thursday, when there are no journalists around. But a Saturday? That is a new benchmark.

    There are so many problems with this document. It fails almost every test of good public policy in its design. There is no learning from the previous four plans and providing a very different structure. As one former Federal Departmental Secretary said to me some years ago when we were working on a national plan “a strategy or plan without finances, is merely philosophy”. There is no financing for the 5th Plan. The goals and ‘how the future will be different’ is so vague that it is meaningless. There is no reference to previous evaluations of the National Plans. So in 25 years of so-called reform, we appear to have learnt nothing or we simply don’t have the stomach to have an honest assessment and realistic, clear set of priorities.

    On the content side, it omits any mention of the workforce. As I travel around the country and work with mental healthcare providers, in hospitals, NGOs, private practice, PHNs and LHDs, the workforce is in serious trouble. In one Sydney hospital district, there are right now 30 psychiatry registrar vacancies. Those attempting to provide the best care for their patients, are juggling under the pressure. Resignations, vacant positions are the norm and worsening. I asked a group of registrars what different do they think this Plan will make. The answer is total scorn.

    This is not the way to build a mental health care system that has any hope of equity or capability with the remainder of the Australian healthcare system. It is a woefully inadequate, and fundamentally dishonest, basis for reform.

  2. 2

    Lesley van Schoubroeck

    and to be clear, it is not a mental health plan, it is a plan to improve the lives of people with mental illness. It decidedly is not a plan to improve Australia’s mental health and wellbeing. This is one of it its aims, but there are no related actions.


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