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10 Jul 2017

The AMA’s position statement Mental Health - 2011 was originally developed in 2010 and finalised in 2011 through the AMA Public Health section. The 2011 position statement comprehensively addressed mental health issues relevant to the AMA and was therefore extensive (10 pages). The AMA’s Medical Practice section developed an updated position statement in 2016, both as a general update and to more directly state the AMA's position in the context of Commonwealth mental health reforms, including through Primary Health Networks and flexible funds. The need for an updated position statement was identified by AMAPG members in mid-2016 in response to the Government's stakeholder consultation 'process' on mental health reform and the development of the 5th National Mental Health Plan.

The updated position statement was developed in consultation with AMAPG and with comment and input from other relevant AMA committees (Medical Practice, Public Hospital Doctors, Rural Doctors, AMACGP) in September-October 2016. The updated position statement uses the existing structure and content of the 2011 version, with additional changes to issues such as the Primary Health Networks and directions for mental health reform. Although the draft is lengthy, it covers the complexities of mental health care and services and will likely be seen as an important component of the AMA’s advocacy and engagement in mental health. The landscape of mental health reform is moving rapidly and there are real concerns about the way PHNs and the NDIS, and the government’s reform agenda, will operate and ensure those with mental illness do not ‘fall through the cracks’ or be shifted into more costly State and Territory run health services. The Mental Health position statement may require more regular revision and updating.

Finalisation of this position statement through the AMA’s Federal Council has been complicated (and delayed) because there hasn’t been a direct 'sponsor' committee reporting to Federal Council for mental health issues, which has delayed getting this  on the agenda and approved by Federal Council. As mental health has largely moved back into Public Health, a working group was convened at the May 2017 Federal Council, chaired by AMA Vice-President Dr Tony Bartone. It is anticipated that the Mental Health position statement will be on the agenda for the August 2017 Federal Council meeting. 

Published: 10 Jul 2017