Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for MENTAL HEALTH and WELLBEING, Mr ROCKLIFF
You should know more than anyone the intense pressures compounding on Tasmanians. Tasmanians are facing a cost of-living and housing crisis, climate heating impacts and the ongoing effects of COVID 19. Young people, and people in insecure housing and work are especially vulnerable.
The Australian Medical Association's report card is damning. It shows the long waits for people to access mental health care at emergency departments. Your investment of $370 million in the last eight years is tiny, especially next to your half-a-billion dollar stadium. Tasmania's AMA president is clear: there has not been the community and primary health investment to cover the devastating mental health services gap.
Will you commit to putting half a-billion dollars into mental health services and community support instead of an unnecessary mega-stadium?
Mr Speaker, I thank the member for her question. I recognise, along with yourself, Dr Woodruff, the importance of mental health and mental health services in our community. We recognise that people are increasingly seeking support and engaging services for mental health issues.
Our Government has comprehensively reviewed all aspects of our public mental health system in Tasmania, including older persons, child and adolescent mental health services and adult services as well. We are very engaged with the expertise on the ground. Last week I met with the Mental Health Council of Tasmania in a leaders' forum roundtable where I was able to listen to and engage with a number of non-government organisations delivering services on the ground, as well as presentations from Statewide Mental Health Services. Professor Brett McDermott engaged in that discussion as well.
We have asked those with the knowledge and expertise to tell us what is needed, including clinicians for in-patient and community mental health services, GPs, peak bodies and, importantly, those with lived experience of the mental health system in Tasmania. I am particularly pleased to invest in the peer workforce aspect and work alongside the Mental Health Council of Tasmania. There was a key workforce strategy released in November 2019. It is the people with lived experience in the mental health sector who are really able to engage and support people in crisis, or who need the support of people who truly understand and are able to walk in the shoes of those experiencing mental health concerns.
We have accepted all recommendations made through the comprehensive review reports. Hard-working mental health staff, consumers of mental health services and their loved ones deserve a contemporary, best-practice mental health system and more community-based care options so that people can get help sooner and stay closer to their support networks at home. We are providing the investment to deliver exactly that.
Of course, there will always be need for acute mental health facilities as well -
Dr Woodruff - Premier, will you address the question, please?
Mr ROCKLIFF - and Mental Health Services has 180 beds across Tasmania to support Tasmanians who require mental health treatment and care.
Ms O'Connor - Nowhere near enough obviously. We are going backwards.
Mr ROCKLIFF - We are not going backwards. I am happy to have a conversation about the AMA report and I offer the AMA a briefing. We are investing some $370 million which is considerable. That includes -
Dr Woodruff - That is pathetically small relative to the need.
Mr ROCKLIFF - You have asked about investment and I am explaining to you. We have committed $120 million to build two new mental health service precincts in the north and north west of the state. The Peacock Centre is coming on line. That is a $20 million investment. The new St Johns Park mental health integration hubs together will provide 27 new mental health short-term recovery beds.
We are reforming the system as well, providing more supports in the community. Funding is very important and we will continue to invest more into our mental health services. Reforming the system is also important. Our Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, for example, is being reformed and invested in through some $45 million. I acknowledge the report that was completed a couple of years ago. It painted a very grim picture of child and adolescent mental health services in Tasmania.
Dr Woodruff - Do you acknowledge the AMA's report today?
Mr SPEAKER - Order, member for Franklin.
Mr ROCKLIFF - It is a warts and-all report. I wanted a warts and-all report in the interests of openness and transparency so we could be held accountable to the needs of further investment. That is why we have been forming a statewide system of child and adolescent mental healh services. That is why we have a police, ambulance and clinician early response when it comes to supporting people with serious mental health episodes in our community.
Mr SPEAKER - If you could wind up please, Premier.
Mr ROCKLIFF - Mr Speaker, I will finish with that. It is a good reform which has supported more than 1000 people in the community since February. Eighty per cent of those people would have gone to an emergency department without that service. This would not only have created pressure on the emergency department environment but, as you would appreciate, given your passion for mental health, and everyone's passion for mental health in this room, an emergency department is no place for a person experiencing seriouis mental illness.