General News Politics — 10 October 2013

Health Minister Peter Dutton has avoided setting a deadline on a review of mental health services, but says he does not want the process to “drag on.”

During the election campaign, Tony Abbott announced his plan to order a review of existing mental health services from the National Mental Health Commission. bigstock-Woman-Having-A-Serious-Talk-Wi-13896974

Mr Dutton spoke further about the review on Thursday in a press conference to mark World Mental Health Day.

He said while the commission had already begun preparing for the review, he had deliberately not given it a timeframe because he wanted it to have “sufficient time” but did not want the process to “drag on”

“I want to make sure that we have a comprehensive review, but nonetheless I want it done in a timely fashion,” he said.

Mr Dutton said the purpose of the review was to ensure that services were delivered to those people most in need and that funding was going to the approaches that had proven most effective.

“People with mental illness deserve the same standards of access and treatment as those with a physical illness,” Mr Dutton said.

“The review aims to ensure that services are being properly targeted, that services are not being duplicated and that programmes are not unnecessarily burdened by red tape,” he said.

“As part of this process, we will seek to identify gaps in both mental health research and workforce development and training. We will also consider the particular challenges of providing services in rural, regional and remote Australia,” he said.

Before coming to office, the Coalition also promised to establish a National Centre for Excellence in Youth Mental Health, and e-mental health platform aimed at young people, expand Headspace youth mental health centres and provide $200 million for research on dementia.

Mr Dutton said the government wanted to break down the stigma around mental illness.

“We want to make sure that on this day, we do remind people that support services are there – please access them, please get online, talk to your friends and family, those at your workplace.

“This is a stigma that will be broken down in years to come and it will take time but the government is absolutely determined to make sure that we break down the stigma around mental health.”

This article first appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on 10 October, 2013.


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