On 25 June 2014, the Senate established the Senate Select Committee on
The final reporting date for the committee is 20 June 2016. The committee's
resolution allows the committee to make interim reports such as this one.
The committee has completed 38 public hearings to date. A list of
hearings which focused on mental health is at Appendix 1.
Through its extensive program of public hearings, the committee has
taken evidence from many health experts, practitioners, consumers and
communities. The public hearing program has also enabled the committee to
engage the wider Australian community, including those in rural and regional
areas which may not normally be able to directly engage with the parliamentary
Throughout the committee's inquiry, mental health issues have been
raised by witnesses and submitters in connection with evidence about the
primary and acute healthcare systems. In order to examine these issues in more
detail, the committee held three hearings focussing specifically on mental
26 August, Canberra;
28 August, Hurstville, Sydney; and
18 September, Redcliffe, Brisbane.
The committee has received 170 submissions since the beginning of its
inquiry. In relation to mental health issues, the committee has received 19
submissions. A list of submissions relating to mental health is at Appendix 2.
The committee's terms of reference are wide-ranging. It is the
committee's intention to explore various issues in depth over the course of its
inquiry. While the committee is still accepting general submissions, it is the
committee's intention to seek submissions on specific topics as the need arises
over the course of the inquiry.
Additional information, tabled documents, correspondence and answers to
questions on notice received by the committee to date and related mental health
are listed at Appendix 3.
Health Committee's first interim
The committee's first interim report was tabled on 2 December 2014.
That report detailed the committee's findings and conclusions at that time,
focussing on issues raised during the committee's hearings and through
submissions. Key areas of focus in the first report were:
the government's proposed patient co-payments, cuts to hospital
funding and the abolition of Australian National Preventative Health Agency;
the government's plan to close the 61 Medicare Locals and replace
them with 30 Primary Health Networks; and
the merger of the Organ and Tissue Authority and the National
Second interim report
The committee's second interim report was tabled on 24 June 2015.
That report encompassed the committee's findings regarding the government's
primary healthcare and general practice policies. In particular the report was
a record of the government's frequent changes of policy since the 2014-15
Budget. The second interim report focused specifically on:
the vital importance of general practice and primary healthcare
and the threat posed by the government's numerous policy changes since the 2014-15
the responses of GPs and the primary healthcare sector to the
government's various primary care policies; and
an examination of the 2015-16 Budget's health measures and
commentary from stakeholders.
Third interim report
The committee's third interim report was tabled on 17 September 2015.
That report examined the government's proposed privatisation of Australian Hearing
and the National Acoustics Laboratories. The proposal was originally
recommended by the National Commission of Audit in February 2014.
In the 2014-15 Budget the government allocated funding for a scoping study for
the proposed privatisation of Australian Hearing.
The 2015-16 Budget included the postponement of a decision on the scoping
study, pending further consultation.
The third interim report outlined the evidence taken at the 10 July
2015 public hearing and the related written submissions made by witnesses. It
the impacts privatisation would have on users of the Australian
Hearing services; and
the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and Australian
Structure of this report
This fourth interim report examines the mental health issues witnesses and
submitters have raised with the committee. The report looks at these issues in
the context of the National Mental Health Commission's National Review of
Mental Health Programmes and Services Report and the pending government
response. In addition to this introductory chapter, the report includes six
background—setting the broad context of mental health policy in
Australia (Chapter 2);
Chapter 3 examines the high-level findings of the National Mental
Health Commission's (the Commission) National Review of Mental Health
Programmes and Services Report
the Government reaction to the Commission's review has been minimal
and cautious, which has been a disappointment to many in the mental health
sector (Chapter 4);
Chapters 5 and 6 describe the issues witnesses and submitters
raised with the committee throughout its inquiry; and
a key issue of concern for stakeholders is ensuring the smooth
transition of Government mental health programmes into the NDIS (Chapter 7).
Notes on references
References to submissions in this report are to individual submissions
received by the committee and published on the committee's website. References
to the committee Hansards are to the proof transcripts.
The committee thanks the many organisations and individuals who
participated in the mental health hearings on 26 and 28 August, and 18
September as well as those that made written submissions. The committee also
acknowledges the contribution of all those who have raised mental health issues
in the committee's previous hearings.
In particular, the committee would like to thank the mental health
consumers and carers who told the committee of their personal experiences. Your
stories demonstrate strength, hope, and courage. They also show clearly that we
need to do better in providing care for those with mental health conditions.
The personal experiences of carers and consumers who spoke at the
roundtables held during the committee's hearings on 28 August (Sydney) and 18
September (Brisbane) are included at Appendix 4.
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