An alliance of 46 mental health sector organisations and stakeholders are calling on all political parties to commit to five specific and sustainable reforms to mental health services, following the release of the most significant Report into mental health in over a decade.

The Report, Obsessive Hope Disorder: Reflections on 30 years of mental health reform in Australia and visions for the future, was launched by former Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commissioner, Brian Burdekin AO on 6 August, at the start of the Federal Election campaign.

Today, an alliance of community and stakeholder organisations is calling for all political parties to respond to the ‘Manifesto for Change’ set out in the Obsessive Hope Disorder Report.

Adjunct Professor John Mendoza, Director of ConNetica and former Chair of the National Advisory Council on Mental Health, instigated the Report.

“For the millions of Australians with mental health problems, access to effective care remains a daily challenge. For decades, people with mental health problems and their families have lived in hope that someday their needs will count as much as those afflicted with cancer, cardiovascular disease or other common health conditions where we have seen dramatic improvements in care, quality of life and life expectancy,” John Mendoza said.

“The signatory organisations to this statement and the Manifesto for Change represent millions of Australians and present a real and sustained strategy for mental health reform. The five key areas of sustained reform being called for are:

  • An end to the confusion of accountability for funding between federal and state / territory governments
  • The development of a national service framework and model of community based mental health care
  • The development of a national workforce plan for mental health
  • Funding directed to evidence based services and research, and
  • Accountability for the money spent on services to see if they are actually working.”

“The signatories believe that the time for our political leaders to respond is now. Australians deserve to know before 7 September which party will make mental health reform a priority and what they have planned,” John Mendoza said.

“We are calling on all political parties to support the recommendations of the Report. The Greens have released their mental health policy, along with their previously released rural mental health policy. Their policies, in line with the Report, include the need for an anti-stigma campaign and establishing a National Institute for Mental Health Research. Focusing on mental health services that are community-based and put people first is the right approach, along with emphasising prevention and early intervention. We await policies from Labor and the Coalition”.

Professor Patrick McGorry, 2010 Australian of the Year and Executive Director of Orygen Youth Health in Victoria, contributed his views on mental health reform.

“While vital momentum for desperately needed change in reform is being built in the community and our new political leadership, there are some immediate and decisive steps we need to take. First we need to finish the task of constructing a comprehensive system of early intervention and youth mental health care through the headspace and EPPIC reforms,” Patrick McGorry said.

“Secondly we urgently need to stop the haemorrhaging of care at community level and to demand that State governments and hospital CEO’s ring fence community mental health budgets and strengthen mental health governance with the health system, And thirdly Federal investments for the seriously mentally ill must shift to practical evidence based programs in housing, employment and assertive community treatment.”

Professor Pat Dudgeon, an Indigenous Australian psychologist and National Mental Health Commissioner, spoke about the urgent need for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health to be a priority

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health must be a priority. The situation is in a critical state that requires focus and planning at all levels. This must be led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with support and partnerships, and recognising cultural concepts such as connection to land and community,” Pat Dudgeon said.

David Meldrum, Executive Director, Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia talked about the need for accountability and leadership in mental health.

“Overall, progress has been slow and patchy. Some brilliant initiatives have emerged at state and federal levels, and as a society we have come a long way in bringing mental illness out of the closet. But the overall reform process still lacks ongoing national leadership, good data and accountability,” David Meldrum said.

“We simply can’t get to the end of this decade to find people with severe mental illness still living 25 years less than the rest of the population and with hundreds taking their own lives every year. Their quality of life reflects on our collective failures. We know we can do so much better, but a few good budget measures every few years doesn’t anywhere near cut it.

The list of signatories is included below.

Media inquiries – Amanda Bresnan 0417 193 407


Act Belong Commit Mentally Healthy WA Campaign
Australasian Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health

Brain and Mind Research Institute, University of Sydney

The Butterfly Foundation Carers ACT

Centre for Mental Health Research, Australian National University
Choice Support Services
ConNetica Consulting

Professor Pat Dudgeon – Research Fellow, University WA and National Mental Health Commissioner
Heal For Life

Inspire Foundation
Mark James – United Synergies

Mary Lawson – long-term mental health consumer advocate

Mental Illness Fellowship Australia
Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre Movember Men’s Health Foundation
Anthony Smith – suicide prevention researcher Neami National
NESA (National Employment Services Association)
Stephen Niemiec – Psychiatric Nurse and Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Sunshine Coast
Nick O’Connor – Clinical Director, North Shore Ryde Mental Health Service
Paul O’Halloran – Senior Clinical Psychologist Orygen Youth Health
OzHelp Foundation

Ingrid Ozols – Mental Health at Work and long term mental health consumer advocate
Mick Palmer AO – former AFP Commissioner and Director Australia21

Perth Central and East Metro Medicare Local Anita Philips – ACT Public Advocate Queensland Youth Industry Links
Rajiv Ramanathan – Practical Visionaries Richmond Fellowship Queensland

Richmond Fellowship of WA ROAM Communities

Professor Alan Rosen – Fellow, School of Public Health, University of Wollongong and Deputy Commissioner, NSW Mental Health Commission Dr Lesley Russell – Senior Research Fellow, ANU College of Medicine, Biology and Enviornment

Professor Luis Salvador-Carulla – Professor of Disability and Mental Health, Centre for Disability Research and Policy, The University of Sydney

SANE Australia Smiling Minds

Anthony Smith – Suicide prevention researcher and former Board Member Suicide Prevention Australia
Maria Smith – Bounce Consulting

Standtall for PTS
Suicide Prevention Australia

Professor Colin Tatz AO – visiting fellow Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
Ted Noffs Foundation

Nicci Wall – long-time mental health consumer advocate

Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre