Urgent need for health reform in Australia

7 Nov 2019

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, has said that the Productivity Commission Draft Report into Mental Health is a welcome catalyst for much-needed political, sectoral, and community debate and discussion to urgently reshape our mental health system.

Dr Bartone said that the AMA will be seeking assurances there are no plans or recommendations to move away from current private sector models, especially specialist psychiatric care. Appropriate non-GP specialist referrals should not be a casualty of any reform. The AMA Council of General Practice is also strongly advocating for general practices to be supported to take a stronger role in caring for patients with mental illness.

The draft report notes:

  • In any year, approximately one in five Australians will experience some form of mental ill-health.
  • Many Australians are able to manage their mental health needs but for those who need mental health treatment, they are not always able to receive the type of care they need.
  • The failures in the system to help those in need means too many people are experiencing "preventable physical and mental distress, relationship breakdown, stigma, and loss of life satisfaction and opportunities".
  • The PC draft reiterates that mental illness is a young person's condition, with 75 per cent of those who develop mental illness experiencing mental illness before the age of 25 years.

Dr Bartone said that we must build a mental health system based on accountability and program evaluation so there is some clarity on who is responsible for mental health care and how resources and funding are allocated.

The AMA welcome the call for ‘clear gateways into mental health care’ and more effective ways to find out about services and supports to help individuals and their families and friends navigate the range of mental health services available.

“One of the key findings is the need for better coordination between psychosocial supports, housing services, the justice system, workplaces, and social security,” Dr Bartone said.

An overview of the Productivity Commission Draft Report on Mental Health is available here.

Read the full media release here.