The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) has criticised the Queensland Government on the lack of mental health support outlined in the State Budget 2021-22.
Chair of the RANZCP Queensland Branch (Qld Branch), Professor Brett Emmerson AM, says the government’s mental health commitment is a poor attempt at addressing the state’s mental health system crisis.
‘If this is all the funding there is, then we call on the government for an urgent discussion on the mental health state of Queensland’, said Professor Emmerson.
‘We’ve made multiple attempts at organising meetings with the Health Ministers over the last two years, only to have them cancelled.
‘There is only so much we can do before we lose faith, we can only hope that there is still a small ray of hope that this government wants to work with us to achieve a sustainable and stable mental health system.
‘We are extremely disappointed with the State Budget 2021-22; there is nothing substantial in there for mental health, the funding that has been announced are promises that have already been made in previous budgets and are still yet to be delivered.
‘It is worth noting, following the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, that the Victorian Government announced an investment of $3.8 billion, or $850 million increase per year for their mental health services, on a pro rata basis. This shows that Queensland needs a recurrent investment of between $650 million and $700 million per year.
‘This is embarrassingly insufficient, given the decades of underfunding of mental health services in Queensland, and the long-lasting mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, as shown by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
‘This is why the RANZCP Queensland Branch is calling on the Queensland Government to show us that they are serious about mental health and launch a Royal Commission into our mental health system, led by the Queensland Mental Health Commission.
‘Whilst there is some funding promised for much needed services, such as $7.7 million, projected over four years, for perinatal and infant health services, it is just a drop in the ocean compared to the amount of funding our system needs.
‘We’ve been calling for help for a very long time now, doctors are struggling, patients are suffering, emergency departments are overflowing and wait times for beds or psychiatry appointments are blown out.
‘Where is the investment in workforce, community health services, beds and infrastructure; our system is struggling from the significant spike in demand from the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s not going to just simply go away.
‘I think that this Budget has shown us that mental health is not a priority for the Palaszczuk Government and we can no longer stay quiet on the matter’, stated Professor Emmerson.
For more information and for all other expert mental health information, visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.
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