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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 8 Hansard (14 August) . .

Page.. 2559..


met every target. We're the only jurisdiction that met every target." What the press released failed to mention was that all our targets were the lowest in the nation. She was patting herself on the back for achieving targets which, in some cases, were 30 or 40 per cent below those in other jurisdictions.

So where do we go from here? It is clear we need to achieve some key things. We need to get better access for patients, particularly in our emergency department and particularly for elective surgery. We need a better culture for staff. There is no question that across the health system, when you talk to the staff and the nurses and the doctors, there is a real problem. I have had nurses in tears about the treatment they have received at various stages at the Canberra Hospital. And we need a healthier community. We need strong incentives to be active and well.

It is a great disappointment to me that we are in this place debating the budget, looking at the statistics, looking at the data and we see again that where there should have been improvements, where we were promised new buildings, where we were promised improved access for patients, where we were promised a better culture for staff, none of that has been achieved. What we get year after year are endless promises from the health minister that the situation will improve while year after year it does not.

MRS JONES (Molonglo) (11.08): Mental health is a big concern within the community. Many do not realise how difficult it can be to manage at the acute end and there are also many for whom the idea that it can be prevented in some cases or well managed are far from their experience. According to the Mental Health Council of Australia, almost half the population—45.5 per cent—experience a mental health disorder at some time in their lives and one in five, or 20 per cent, of Australians aged 16 to 85 have experienced mental disorders in the previous 12 months. That is equivalent to 3.2 million Australians. These are concerning statistics.

According to Professor Anthony Jorm of the University of Melbourne, in 1997 our first national survey of mental health was undertaken and the treatment gap at that point was 62 per cent, meaning that 62 per cent of those who could access treatment were not accessing it. The World Health Organisation calls for action to reduce the treatment gap. Professor Jorm reports that this 62 per cent treatment gap has not massively reduced since that point in time and, in fact, is still around the same number. He also presents that mental health is the number three cause of disability or death in Australia, so it has a very serious impact on the population.

As a community, our efforts tend to go entirely into treatment and, in my experience, such treatment is often only sought once conditions become critical. We seem to put less effort into prevention. Studies show that 20 per cent of cases can, indeed, be prevented, particularly at the very prevalent but less severe end of the spectrum of anxiety and depression. In the last few years there has most certainly been an increase of awareness of mental health issues and an increased acceptance of the need to seek help when it begins to impact on a person's ability to function.

Another key change in this area was the federal introduction of Medicare-funded psychologist visits based on a GP mental health assessment plan, and this has seen


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