Foreword to the Senate Select Committee on Mental Health's First Report
This inquiry by the Select Committee on Mental
Health has been a unique opportunity to meet with people in
the mental health sector, be they consumers, carers, health professionals or
administrators. The committee has been given enormous community support,
received the results of many peoples' hard work, and been shown great
hospitality wherever it has gone. I want to thank everyone who has assisted the
committee and its work.
This is the committee's first report. It provides a
wide-ranging review of many aspects of mental health care in Australia,
and delivers a set of important, unanimous recommendations. In a few weeks the
committee will deliver a second, shorter report.
The decision to divide its report into two parts was the
result of a particular confluence of events. As it conducted its inquiry, the
committee was inundated with submissions and other evidence about the need for
change in the field of mental health. Fuelled by this evidence, and by the hard
work of others including the Mental Health
Council of Australia and the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission,
mental health reform is now rightly at the top of the policy agenda for
governments around the country.
In February 2006 the Council of Australian Governments
agreed to initiate a rapid process of discussion and policy development on
mental health. The committee was committed to ensuring that its inquiry and
findings had a significant influence on this important reform process. It
therefore decided to report to the Senate the bulk of its work and a suite of
recommendations that the committee believes should be addressed in the CoAG
policy reform discussions.
In the coming weeks the committee will table a brief second
report. This will set out some more detailed recommendations that arise from
the committee's findings in particular areas of concern. These recommendations
will be no less important than those set out in this first report, but the
committee wanted to ensure that there was no delay in providing vital input to
the CoAG process.
The committee looks forward to
CoAG's adoption of the recommendations included here, and to all governments,
agencies and organisations responding to the recommendations that will be
included in the second report.
Senator Lyn Allison
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