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Mental health programs face uncertain future


The long-term outlook for 150 mental health programs remains uncertain after the Federal Government injected just enough extra funds to keep them afloat for the next 15 months.

Health Minister Peter Dutton has provided $170 million to allow the programs to continue operating while the National Mental Health Commission undertakes a review of all existing services, but the funding will not support them beyond mid-2015.

 Mr Dutton said the funding injection reflected the Government’s commitment to mental health.

“It is essential to ensure the continuity for mental health services, suicide prevention and postvention [sic] programs while the …Commission undertakes its review of all existing services,” the Minister said. “People who experience mental ill health need to know that services are available to support them.”

Mr Dutton said that providing notification of the continuation of funding now would help providers effectively plan their work for the forthcoming financial year.

But prospects beyond June next year are unclear, with all future funding decisions suspended while the Commission undertakes its work.

The Minister indicated the review was likely to result in changes.

He said the review was important to ensure that services were being properly targeted, and that funds went to those programs that were proven to be most effective.

Adrian Rollins