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Thursday, 31 October 2019

The draft report from the Productivity Commission’s (PC) inquiry into Mental Health provides a blueprint to improve mental health outcomes across Australia. 

That is according to the NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS) who is pushing for improved access to mental health support, greater investment in community care and affordable and secure housing.

The PC’s inquiry is examining the effect of mental health on people’s ability to participate and prosper in the community and workplace, and the effects it has more generally on the economy.

Just under half of Australians (45 per cent) will have a common mental health condition in their lifetime, and 1 in 7 young people aged 4-17 have at least one mental health condition.

More than 250,000 Australians visit the emergency department every year seeking help for acute mental and behavioural conditions, placing significant pressures on the hospital system.

The draft report highlights several vitally important reform areas, including: prevention and early intervention, closing critical service gaps and investment in non-health services like housing. 

NCOSS CEO Joanna Quilty said the draft report provides the blueprint to ensure more Australians get access to mental health support when and where they need it.

NCOSS has undertaken grassroots consultation across 24 communities in metropolitan and regional NSW to inform its submission to the PC. Some of its recommendations include:

  • Expanding investment in, availability of and access to low-cost community mental health support and services, including those adopting a ‘hub’ model with co-located services and wraparound supports.
  • Increasing investment in community transport programs so that vulnerable people can access support in their communities and stay connected.
  • Improving investment in ‘soft entry points’ and supports for social inclusion in the community offered by generalist services such as neighbourhood and community centres.
  • Developing a National Housing Strategy to meet Australia’s identified shortfall of 500,000 social and affordable homes, and provide a stable base from which to access tailored support for people who are struggling

“Too many Australians with a mental health condition are not able to access appropriate supports when and where they need them,” Ms Quilty said.

“The importance of adequately funded ancillary services outside the mental health system that keep people supported and connected in their communities can’t be overlooked.

“Neither can the need to invest in supports for those in the community whose conditions are too complex for primary care, but who are not eligible for acute or specialist care.”

NCOSS is calling for the PC to also consider the role community transport options play in assisting people access support, particularly in regional areas. 

“The Productivity Commission is doing vitally important work and we urge them to consider additional measures to address the significant issues in the community,” Ms Quilty said.

“Then we need all levels of government to act and implement these measures and appropriately resource them.

“Too many Australians are being let down by a failing system and it is the responsibility of all levels of government to ensure it is fixed.”

To find out more about NCOSS, visit:

Media contact: Nick Trainor 0407 078 138