Queensland is the latest state to come under fire for failing to provide its residents with a choice of providers, with the Government announcing on Thursday that it is cutting its budget by about $50 million, leaving vulnerable people without the option of accessing treatment.
The move follows a number of recent events where politicians have blamed the Coalition Government for the state’s chronic underfunding of mental health services, and Queensland’s Mental Health Commission has also called for cuts.
But the changes are being made to the State Government’s Mental Care Act, which governs the mental health sector in the state.
The Queensland Government announced on Thursday it would cut $50.7 million from its mental health budget, leaving an additional $23 million available for other purposes.
Under the proposed changes, the Queensland Mental Health Commissioner will have no role in the budget and will instead be appointed by the Premier, with a $500,000 per year salary.
However, there will be no changes to the budget of the Mental Health Council of Queensland.
Queensland has had a poor record on mental health since its funding cuts of up to $10 million were introduced in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The state currently has a budget deficit of $7.8 million.
Queers in Queensland have been hit hardest by the crisis, with unemployment reaching a record high of 28.3 per cent in June.
The Government is also proposing to make changes to health services across the state, including a reduction in the number of mental healthcare beds, and the introduction of a “tough-love” model for the treatment of mental illness.
“We’ve seen some really terrible cases of psychosis in the last six months, which has created a huge pressure on our mental health system,” Senator Stephen Parry, a member of the Legislative Council, told the ABC on Thursday.
“If we want to have a resilient mental health service, we need to be looking at the right kind of funding and a proper model that’s sustainable.”
Queenslanders are the third most likely to suffer from mental health problems in Australia, with 40.4 per cent of people experiencing mental illness in the past year.
The State Government has previously promised to cut the budget by $500 million, with some people worried that it would lead to more suicides and suicide attempts.
But Senator Parry said he believed that Queenslanders’ health would be protected by the Government’s cuts.
“The idea that Queensland is going to be more vulnerable than Australia is to suicides is just nonsense,” he said.
“It’s not about putting money into the hands of the Government, it’s about protecting our health.””
Senator Parry has also criticised the Government for cutting the mental wellbeing budget from $10 billion to $5 billion, which he said is “not going to address the crisis”.”
It’s not about putting money into the hands of the Government, it’s about protecting our health.”
Senator Parry has also criticised the Government for cutting the mental wellbeing budget from $10 billion to $5 billion, which he said is “not going to address the crisis”.
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