Funding for Mental Health Motion

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (17:09): I move:

That this council—

Notes that an open letter dated 27 January 2016, from the Mental Health Coalition of South Australia addressed to the Premier and signed by 21 not-for-profit organisations and service providers, outlines three urgent mental health priorities for South Australia;

Supports, in particular, the sector's call for the South Australian government to 'urgently redress the human rights deficit' for people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) by implementing the recommendations outlined in the SA Department for Health and Ageing's report on BPD, published in June 2014; and

Calls on the Weatherill Labor government to urgently act on the priorities for mental health cited in the letter.

I rise today to urge the council to note the open letter, dated 27 January from the Mental Health Coalition of South Australia, that was addressed to the Premier and signed by 21 not-for-profit organisations and service providers, which outlines its top three urgent mental health priorities for us as legislators. I move this motion today in response to that letter and to draw attention to it. As members would be aware, the Mental Health Coalition of South Australia is the peak body for the non-government mental health sector in South Australia.

That letter is signed by 21 not-for-profit organisations and service providers: Baptist Care; Carers SA; Carer Support; Community Support Incorporated; MIFSA (Mental Illness Fellowship of South Australia); Mind; Centacare; Neami National, Relationships Australia, South Australia; SA Country Carers; STTARS (supporting survivors of torture and trauma); Uniting Communities; UnitingCare Wesley Bowden; Australian Red Cross; Catherine House Incorporated; The Station; Mental Health Australia; UnitingCare Wesley Port Adelaide; Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia Incorporated; Clubhouse SA Incorporated; and Australian BPD Foundation Limited, which is an organisation that supports and advocates for people with borderline personality disorder. I note their words:

We look forward to a future where people severely impacted by mental illness will get the help they need when they need it regardless of where they present or whether the presenting issue is about their illness, disability, housing, suicidal thoughts, domestic violence, drugs or alcohol, physical health or other problems. We note the link between poverty and mental health and that lack of access to appropriate help can sometimes have serious consequences for children and families.

The letter goes on to note:

As the SA Mental Health Commission has only recently been announced and it has yet to complete the major consultation necessary we understand that its impact on strategy and directions in SA will not be immediate.

In the meantime, however, we are concerned that the current focus of Transforming Health on hospital services will not achieve its vision of 'Best care. First time. Every time.' Improving treatment and flow in hospital settings is important work but this ignores key issues of reducing the flow of people into hospitals and assisting people to move out of hospital.

I note the three priorities in the letter are: intensive psychosocial support, crisis respite service and borderline personality disorder. Priority one refers to an innovative SA model called Intensive HomeBased Support Service, and the letter says it is currently filling the gap by:

…providing intensive, flexible, tailored, short term support for people to assist them to move earlier from hospital to home.

The letter goes on to note that while the 2014 evaluation of the program showed remarkable results, including an average reduction in hospital stays of 10.3 days per person, funding for this program ceased on 30 June last year (2015) leaving, and I quote, 'a significant gap in the stepped model of care'. The letter calls for the re-establishment of that intensive psychosocial support service. Priority 2 is for a crisis respite service. The letter states:

In July 2014, twenty-four new residential Crisis Respite beds and ten home-based support bed equivalents were introduced to the SA mental health system…There have been more than 1500 entries into the service since it commenced.

The Hon. D.W. Ridgway interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Mr Ridgway, the member is speaking.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: You may want to speak a little further away from the person trying to actually speak to the chamber.

The Hon. D.W. Ridgway: Next time I'll take Mr Parnell outside.

The PRESIDENT: That's a very good idea.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Excellent idea. The letter continues:

Outcome measures indicate it is an effective intervention option and consumer (carer & service provider) satisfaction with the service is high.

While the letter acknowledges that the service was established under commonwealth funding which is due to cease this year (30 June 2016), it also calls on the Weatherill government to commit to its future, as, and I quote:

…a key feature of the SA mental health system into the future and reduce the flow into emergency departments and acute care.

The final priority to which I wish to draw members' attention specifically (and I note that my motion calls for a particular support for this) is supporting the sector's call—the Mental Health Coalition and those 21 organisations and service providers—for the South Australian government to implement the recommendations, as outlined in the SA Department for Health and Ageing's report on borderline personality disorder that was published in June 2014.

As members would be aware, the Hon. Kelly Vincent and I have previously brought motions around this issue. The Hon. Stephen Wade, as the shadow minister for health, has also been active on this debate. We need better response for this serious and complex mental health issue, and advocating for the establishment of a state-wide specialised borderline personality disorder service, similar to that run in Victoria in the Spectrum unit, is essential.

It is estimated that BPD affects between 1 and 4 per cent of the population at any one time. BPD is a leading cause of suicide, with an estimated 10 per cent of those individuals with this diagnosis taking their own lives. Certainly, there are significant personal and public health costs associated with this disorder, and I know that it is a key human rights issue that should be taken up in line with the Department for Health and Ageing's report.

I bring these issues to the attention of this council because I think to get 21 providers in the mental health sector agreeing that these are the three key priorities on which we need to act urgently is worthy of this council's consideration and worthy of government action. With that, I commend the motion.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. T.J. Stephens.

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