PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 22614

Weekly Radio Message

Photo of Howard, John

Howard, John

Period of Service: 11/03/1996 to 03/12/2007

More information about Howard, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 04/12/2006

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 22614

Mental illness is one of the nation's most pressing health challenges and one that my Government is tackling head on.

With more and more Australians now likely to be touched either personally or through family and friends by a mental health problem, it is important that we remove the stigma of mental illness and treat it openly and honestly.

For too long, the treatment of mental illness has been too low on the list of health priorities.

That is why in April, I announced a commitment of $1.9 billion to provide more primary health and clinical services to treat mental illness, new programs to help sufferers better manage day to day life and get back into work or finish school; an increase in the mental health workforce, new non-clinical and respite services and more community awareness programs.

While this funding was unconditional in the sense that we would make the commitment irrespective of the response of the states, I did call on the states and territories back in April, collectively, to match the Commonwealth package in their areas of responsibility such as supported accommodation, hospital care and emergency and crisis services.

Unfortunately, while there have been some positive announcements, the states and territories are yet to match the Commonwealth's commitment. To date, as a group they have contributed less than 60 per cent of the Commonwealth's contribution in new money terms.

Individually, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory have committed no new funds since the Commonwealth announcement. The South Australian Government has put forward 35 per cent of its expected pro rata contribution, Queensland about half, New South Wales and the ACT about 70 per cent and Victoria about 80 per cent.

If we are to meet the challenge of mental illness as a nation, the states and territories must be prepared to shoulder their responsibilities with commitments of new money matching the Commonwealth.

We cannot afford a half-hearted response to this major health challenge.

Transcript 22614