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health reform anyone? « Previous | |Next »
January 12, 2006

It is now widely accepted that the neo-liberal efficiency approach to Australia's health system has 'squeezed the system too far' in its search for efficiency savings, and it has been too slow in responding to increased demand for health care by providing more primary health care services outside of our hospitals. The health care system is hospital-centric.

The assumption underlying the neo-liberal mode of governance is the seductive notion of progress where an industrialized Australia pumps more wealth in one end of the pipeline and more welfare flows out the other. Yet, what we have discovered with a decade or so of solid economic growth is that you can have more wealth and more people exluded from welfare. This indicates the import of social justice.

Is the shabby treatment of those who are mentally ill the price of progress that must be born? It looks increasingly likely, doesn't it.

Alan Moir

Around one in five Australians will experience mental illness in some form or another. Around 27 per cent of all health-related disability is due to mental illness, and that a staggering 60 per cent of disability among 15 to 34-year-olds is due to depression, anxiety, alcohol and substance abuse, manic-depressive illness (bipolar disorder) or schizophrenia.

The response is pretty poor.

If we suffer from depression, we are often told to 'snap out of it!' or 'that we have nothing to be depressed about'. The tacit assumption is that we choose to be mentally ill, just as we choose to be poor and excluded. It's a lifestyle option.

You don't need to go to line up at hospital to be treated for depression. You need good primary care. That doesn't just mean drugs. It means psychological help and support for families and carers of loved ones suffering mental illness.They carry the burden of the lack of access to basic medical, psychological and social services for those with mental illness, despite a decade of promises by all governments to lift the quantity and quality of mental health care. Hence the basic failures in the system occur on a daily basis and cause a lot of suffering.

I cannot see the full Commonwealth takeover of the financial responsibility of the health system would solve. This Many centralists see it as a feasible option. However, the Commonwealth has been as slack as the states in helping address the basic failures in mental health. It hides behind the fiction that it is the states problem, even though all Australian Governments initiated the National Mental Health Strategy in 1992 to address decades of neglect and assure the rights of people with mental illness.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:04 AM | | Comments (2)


As one of the sufferer's, it is such a hodge podge system.

If you are lucky, you have a decent GP who quickly refers you to a decent Psychiatrist or Psychologist.

If you are unlucky, you get what I received in WA, a GP who prescribed anti-depressants and no follow up with mental health professionals.

This time around I was fortunate enough to fall into the first category, and now am at least functioning at a near normal level.

But the system won't change until community perceptions change. So government's can keep getting away with avoiding taking action, as most people just don't want to admit that it is such a large problem.

Of course it's a lie we live in a wealthy country. Wealthy countires don't starve their citizens of basic health care, don't disquality their young from higher education by pricing them out of universities. Wealthy countries are not afraid of freedom of speech and don't enact laws removing liberty. Our governments have made war for decades on people who use drugs whilst profiting from the drugs they allow to be sold.

This has led to a huge decline in our national mental well being. Australians are mostly lost in a consumer fog, out of touch with their natural environment, knowing in their hearts they live on stolen land, and still worshiping the northern cycle of sabbats. Australians are a lost people with little in the way of culture to support their minds from failing. What culture there is shallow and trivial based on sport and money.

The nation is a frontier land that needs enormous and rapid reform of ideas and attitudes if the mental problems Australians suffer are to be remedied. Pills and psychobabble won't change a thing.