BARRY O'FARRELL has committed to spending $30 million on establishing a Mental Health Commission and has promised to quarantine funding for mental health from the overall health budget.
Announcing the funding at the Lifeline telephone counselling centre in south-western Sydney, the Opposition Leader said the commission would be modelled on a similar one introduced in Western Australia.
''A Mental Health Commission is needed to drive the necessary reforms to improve mental health outcomes because NSW lags behind other states on mental health care,'' Mr O'Farrell said.
''NSW has dropped the ball on mental health with over 600,000 mental health sufferers receiving no care or treatment over the past year.''
The Opposition spokesman for mental health, Kevin Humphries, said a commission was essential to rebuilding a ''system currently in crisis''.
''Around one in five Australians is affected by mental illness each year, yet only one in three will receive the necessary help they need,'' he said.
''Too many health patients end up in hospital emergency departments. Early intervention with care in the community from a range of providers could prevent some of these hospital admissions.''
The announcement was welcomed by the former Australian of the Year Professor Patrick McGorry, the executive director of the Black Dog Institute, Gordon Parker, and the president of the Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW, Frank Walker.
Alexandra Smith March 11, 2011 Soured from the Sydney Morning Herald