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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Stakeholder concerns about Australia's mental health care system

Clare E Townsend, Jane E Pirkis, An T N Pham, Meredith G Harris, Harvey A Whiteford
Australian Health Review: a Publication of the Australian Hospital Association 2006, 30 (2): 158-63
16646764
There is growing community and professional concern that the Australian mental health care system requires substantial reform. In response to these concerns, a Senate Select Committee on Mental Health has been commissioned to conduct an inquiry into the provision of mental health services. The current study involved a content analysis of 725 submissions received by the Committee, and highlighted significant areas for reform. People with mental illness face difficulties in accessing mental health care, the care they do receive is of varying quality and poorly coordinated, and necessary services from other sectors, such as housing, are lacking. These problems may be exacerbated for particular groups with complex needs or heightened levels of vulnerability. The system requires reorienting towards the consumers and carers it is designed to serve, and needs stronger governance, higher levels of accountability and improved monitoring of quality. These findings are discussed in the context of the recent acknowledgement of mental health as an issue by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), which has called for an action plan to be prepared for its consideration by June 2006.

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