Friday, July 29th, 2011 - Stolen Quotes
In any given year, approximately 20% of Australians aged 16 to 85 years experience a mental illness and 45% of Australians experience mental illness at some point in their lifetime. (http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/mental-ba-fig-fact)

According to Lifeline Australia, (‘Lifeline calls for major public awareness campaign on suicide’- 4 May 2011), suicide is the leading cause of death for women aged 15 to 34 and for men aged 15 to 44. More people die from suicide than in traffic accidents (1479 in 2009), and skin cancer (1837 in 2009).

Under the Better Access initiative, any person diagnosed by their GP as suffering a mental illness, is entitled to up to 18 sessions with a psychologist (depending on the severity of their condition) covered by Medicare rebate.

The program, which is one of the government’s most cost effective, is set to be cut by over 50% ($350 million) in November this year alone. In a move that shows little compassion for the millions of mental health sufferers Australia wide, this administrative decision will see the reduction of initial treatment sessions from 12 to 6- which, in some instances, is barely enough for a psychologist to build a rapport with their patient, let alone successfully alter the severely detrimental thought patterns that extreme sufferers experience.

Michael Quinn, who underwent all 18 sessions after attempting suicide in 2009, claims that the Better Access initiative saved his life. He is concerned that the large drop in government funding is going to place a huge risk on acute mental health sufferers.

“People are going to die because of this. In effect, the government has said ‘we’ve put in place a program for everybody who has mild, or below-average, severity in their symptoms.’ Anybody who has above-average symptoms is not going to be accommodated.”

Quinn is organising a petition directly to the House of Representatives, hoping to be lodged mid-August, to be debated in the house.

According to Quinn, the decision needs to be reversed before November 1, when the changes are due to take place.


To sign the petition, or for further information, please contact:

Hollie Azzopardi
Media Advisor
Stolen Quotes

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Keywords

depression, suicide, mental health, federal government, health, Better Access

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