Urgent Reform Needed With Billions Lost To Mental Stress

The Andrews Labor Government has highlighted systemic and devastating failures in Australia’s mental health system and has called for urgent national reform in a submission made to the Commonwealth this week.

Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley has released the Labor Government’s second submission to the Commonwealth’s Mental Health Productivity Commission Inquiry, which recognises Australia’s mental health system has fundamentally failed in ensuring people get the care they need.

As the Productivity Commission itself noted, mental illness costs Australia around $180 billion a year – or $500 million a day.

This is reflected in the recent findings from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System interim report, which found poor mental health results in an estimated $1.6 billion loss in productivity and a further $4.8 billion lost in foregone wages.

The Government’s submission goes even further and highlights that Worksafe – Victoria’s agency dedicated to workplace health and safety – estimates that one in five workers will experience mental illness or injury every year. And in 2018-2019, mental injury claims made to WorkSafe were expected to reach $550-700 million.

The submission states that this number is expected to grow even further, with mental injuries estimated to increase 34 per cent by 2030, compared to an expected 12 per cent increase for physical injuries.

The Labor Government is also calling on the Commonwealth to consider how they will fund these lifesaving system changes and recommends they adopt a similar approach to the recommendation made by Victoria’s Royal Commission for a dedicated revenue mechanism.

The submission also argues there is a need for the Commonwealth to partner with states and leading nongovernment organisations in delivering a consistent, world class mental health service – regardless of where you seek support in Australia.

The final Productivity Commission report is expected to be handed over to the Commonwealth in late May. The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System will hold another round of public hearings in April and release its final report in October.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley

“The findings of this report and our Royal Commission Interim Report provide an unprecedented opportunity to work together with the Commonwealth in delivering the best mental health services for every family, in every community.

“These staggering figures are why – here in Victoria – we established Australia’s first Royal Commission into mental health – and it’s why we remain dedicated to working with the Commonwealth in advancing vital reform.

“We lose billions to poor mental health every year, but the cost of inaction isn’t just measured in dollars – all too often it’s measured in human lives.”