Mental health services at risk from Turnbull Liberal Government
So far important issues like mental health have been ignored in this year’s federal election. While there has been a lot of heated discussion about mental health, there has been too little focus on delivering the services needed in our community. And this has come into stark relief as the CEO of Headspace stepped down over the changes to funding to the organisation that delivers mental health care to young Australians.
The recent furore around Medicare has sidelined discussion around other health matters like mental health. But it became apart this week that the Turnbull Government will be dismantling Headspace, the organisation that provides mental health services to young people aged 12-25. This week the CEO of Headspace announced he was standing down as a result of the Turnbull Government’s decision to redirect funding for Headspace to the 31 existing Primary Health Networks.
Unfortunately this means that the national platform created for the mental care of young people will now be split up with potentially 31 variations of the platform. And worse still there is no requirement on the Primary Health Networks to continue to offer early intervention programs. The Primary Health Networks may decide that they don’t want to invest the money in early intervention since the funding for such programs has not been ring-fenced. And with no guarantees that early intervention programs will continue it is all-too-likely that the Primary Health Networks will not fund such programs.
In effect the Turnbull Government has gutted a vital service for young people and their families seeking help with their mental health. It might be convenient to talk about mental health services, but it’s far more important to ensure such services are properly funded, coordinated and integrated to deliver the best mental health services possible.
Climate change and health should be key issues
Unfortunately too many of Australia’s political parties don’t have a clear commitment to tackling the risks of climate change on health and wellbeing.
The Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) has released a scorecard rating the policies of Australia’s main political parties on climate change and health. The results show the Greens are the best performing party when it comes to protecting the community from the health impacts of climate change. The ALP trails the Greens with only two policies to tackle the issue while both the Liberal and National parties are doing nothing.
With climate change recognised as the biggest threat to global public health of this century, the failure of the Liberal and National parties to announce any policies to reduce these risks means a future Turnbull-led Liberal Government will profoundly fail its duty of care to protect its citizens from a serious threat.
Key policies to reduce the health impacts of climate change assessed by CAHA included stronger emissions reduction targets for Australia, a moratorium of new coal and gas mining, a fair and planned transition for affected fossil fuel industry workers and communities, stronger air pollution laws, and a national strategy that will address climate change and health.
Health groups want a National Climate Health and Well-being Strategy as key to protecting health and sustaining a resilient healthcare system. These factors however, do not appear to be amongst the priorities for the major Australian political parties.
Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association launches election scorecard
From the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association:
“Australia’s healthcare system consistently outperforms many OECD countries when comparing key health indicators and costs, but challenges such as an ageing population, increased rates of chronic and complex disease, increased consumer expectations and new medical technologies and treatments are increasing the cost and complexity of healthcare.
The challenge is to manage the delivery of care as effectively and efficiently as possible, while governments ensure the necessary resources are made available to deliver this care. Much of the recent focus for health policy discourse in Australia has been on economics, funding and the importance of building sustainability into the Australian healthcare system.
The economics of healthcare and a healthy population contributing to the economy underpinned the establishment of Medicare more than 30 years ago, and it is timely that Australians and the health sector refocus efforts on ensuring our healthcare system retains the capacity to support accessible universal healthcare into the future.”