Mental Health Not A Priority In New South Wales

Mental Health Not A Priority In New South Wales

New South Wales Auditor General Peter Achterstraat

Community Mental Health Has Not Met Expectations

Victor P Taffa


The Auditor-General, Peter Achterstraat, today released his report on Mental Health Workforce. In 2006, NSW Health announced A New Direction for Mental Health, a five-year plan committing $939 M to improve mental health, with most of the workforce growth to occur in community based services.

While the Government funded over 500 new community staff by 2008-09, the net growth was perhaps half as much, as existing community positions either disappeared or were not filled.

“The Government intended to help people earlier in an illness and provide support in the community. Clearly we still have a way to go with nearly half of patients leaving hospital not followed up by community staff within seven days.” Mr. Achterstraat said.

Additionally, one in three kids and two in three aged patients stay in psychiatric hospital beds for extended periods of time because there is nowhere else for them to go.”

“NSW continues to spend proportionally less on Community Mental Health than most other states.” Mr. Achterstraat said.

More Mental Health Clinicians

The number of mental health clinicians in NSW has increased over past four years. However, most of the increase has been in hospitals rather than in the community. The State now has services that didn’t exist before for our youngest and oldest mental health patients. NSW employed between 380 and 680 extra hospital staff and spread them more evenly across the State to where they were needed. These are positive outcomes.

Data Integrity in Question

Mr. Achterstraat was concerned that NSW Health could not tell him precisely how much the mental health workforce grew. The Department advised that it employed in the range of 600 to 1,000 extra staff between 2005-06 and 2008-09. Some of the higher numbers reported by Area Health Services seemed implausible.

“Health’s workforce data is inconsistent and in places inaccurate making it very difficult to organise its services to meet existing and future demand.” Mr. Achterstraat said.

Money Sometimes Diverted to Other Programs

Around $20 Million a year was diverted from mental health to other areas of Health. This money may not have been wasted, but it meant that the State missed out on another 150 front line Mental Health Clinicians in the community.

What needs to be Done

Mr. Achterstraat recommended that NSW Health:

  • Keep its promise to provide more mental health care in the community so that people don’t have to wait until they are so sick that they have to be hospitalised;
  • Spend Mental Health money on Mental Health services rather than other areas of Health;
  • Work with Private and Non-government services to provide the Mentally ill with the care they need when they need it.

“It is important that NSW Health organise its finite workforce effectively to assist the one in six people of New South Wales who suffer with Mental Illness.” Mr. Achterstraat said.

The one issue that the New South Wales Auditor General did not cover was that New South Wales Health Employees did the bidding of the New South Wales Labor Government in destroying the life of Victor P Taffa.

Seen as their ‘Prize Catch’ the Health Employees at Royal North Shore Hospital, Ryde Hospital and the Ryde Community Mental Health Service hated the idea that Victor P Taffa desired a Political career and actually supported Railway and Tramway Expansion.

Suggestions of a Political Career were described as ‘Delusions of Grandeur.’

The New South Wales Health System has no money however even when Victor P Taffa went to Victoria for the State Election Health Employees continued with their harassment.

On occasions when Victor P Taffa suggested that Mental Health required more funding in front of those same Employees their tune changed momentarily.

Victor P  Taffa has been treated like a Criminal and a move to Victoria in the field of Railway and Tramway Expansion will be a salvation for his sanity.

Victor P  Taffa has been starved of a satisfactory income by the Labor Party and they have enjoyed every minute of it including sly comments  made by Centrelink Staff.