SA Mental Health Sector Experiences Historic Job Losses

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June 14, 2018

Up to 150 jobs in the community mental health sector will disappear from the 1st of July.

This is the first substantial job loss under the new Marshall Government and the biggest in the mental health sector’s history.

Highly skilled and qualified mental health support workers are being told now they will not have a job beyond this financial year as crucial Commonwealth funding is being pulled out of mental health programs. 

Each of these workers supports around 10-15 people in a mental health program in South Australia resulting in up to 2500 people experiencing mental ill-health being left without any mental health support. 

As of 1st July 2018 the Commonwealth Department of Social Services is pulling funding out of mental health programs and rolling it in to NDIS. It is arguing the uptake of people living with mental illness in to NDIS is over 70%. Mental Health Coalition data and data recently released by Flinders University has it at around 30-35%.

This will create a massive gap in support for over 2000 South Australians with mental illness which will require $8-$10m to fix in the coming financial year.

In the Federal budget the Commonwealth government promised $92.6m for services to continue supporting people. However this money is over four years, starts on 1st July 2019 and is for all of Australia.

What does that equate to here in SA? Less than $2m a year to replace the $40m per annum previously invested by the Commonwealth in mental health programs.

“We keep talking about the tsunami, well it has hit the sector and the wipe out has started,” said MHCSA Executive Director Geoff Harris.

“When you lose a skilled workforce like this and key programs cease to exist you put more pressure on an already over worked system. You put more stress on families and carers, you find people presenting at Emergency Departments and worse of all you leave vulnerable people in the community at risk of self-harm and suicide.”

The MHCSA has been contacted by one regional worker who says she manages 20 clients. Only one of them has managed to get in to the NDIS while the other 19 were promised continuity of support. However there is no program to support them from 30th June.

For those wishing to advocate with us to Members of Federal Parliament please find a proforma letter here. You need to add in the correct details where you see Italics and *’s. A list of your local Senators and Members can be found here.

Please find attached a template letter to MPs and PHaMs service locations/providers mapped against local MPs with the MPs contact details and the petition link.

The Australian Services Union have also developed resources for organisations and employees to use. There is a letter they can use to send to the local MP whose community they provide a service to, as well as the Premier & Minister Wade. Here is a list of organisations by postcode. They also have petition you can sign here.

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