This year’s budget was very heavy on infrastructure without any new announcements directly in mental health.
The new budget introduced a 12-day target for the average length of acute in-patient stays. Greater investment in the NT community mental health sector is needed to ensure that they can meet this target in coming years.
Treasurer Eva Lawler, in wrapping up her announcement, said “This budget sees people as our greatest assets,” however this isn’t apparent in the budget. If the government want to grow the NT economy human capital needs to be at the forefront – that is, people working in key service industries such as social services, mental health, disability, childcare and aged care.
We need to see long term funding with CPI increases in line with wage growth which would offer security to people and their families working in these essential roles.
Furthermore, the cost of living is placing stress on families which is escalating mental health concerns. Financial security is crucial for mental health. Territorians need support to ensure their basic needs such as housing and food security are covered.
“The community mental health sector needs more funding to help people with practical living skills, so they can better manage their lives and periods of being unwell. Support with housing, relationships, education, community connection and culture. Without these supports, peoples’ condition may worsen which costs the government more in the longer-term,” says Geoff Radford.
We’ve got a widely dispersed population and delivering services in the NT is complex and costly. The NT mental health system is skewed toward providing high intensity services, the majority of which are in Darwin and the urban centres. Not enough resourcing to provide care across vast, isolated regions. People need that support where they live – not having to travel long distances and be away from their support networks and their country.
The NT govt has invested 3 million dollars in the wellbeing of Police and their families. This is a welcomed investment as police and front-line workers have a tough job.
“We need to work together with the community to reduce the stigma associated with seeking help and normalize looking after well-being as a core part of front-line work,” says Radford.
Please include the following crisis support services for any story regarding mental health or suicide:
Lifeline: 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467 www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au
beyondblue: 1300 22 4636 www.beyondblue.org.au
More information on safely reporting on mental illness or suicide can be found at: https://mindframe.org.au/
CEO Northern Territory Mental Health Coalition