The National Mental Health Consumer Alliance (known as the Alliance) announces its incorporation as a national peak organisation for state and territory-based mental health consumer organisations. The Alliance will act as a federal advocacy body and intends to work with the federal government on mental health consumer issues.
Some policies that are currently of most concern are the reduction in Medicare-subsidised psychologist visits, a lack of voting mechanisms made available for mental health inpatients, and a lack of access to mental health care for rural and remote consumers.
“Mental health consumers across Australia are keen to have their views heard in response to federal government mental health policies,” said Priscilla Brice, Alliance Chairperson.
“We remain concerned about the number of Medicare-subsidised psychologist visits available, which were reduced last January from 20 per person per year down to 10.”
“This new national consumer body aims to address such issues by bringing grassroots issues to the national policy agenda.”
An informal partnership between the consumer bodies was formed in 2019 but has since strengthened in response to a federal government funding announcement earlier this year.
In January, Minister Butler promised $7.5 million for two new peak bodies to be established, representing people with lived experience of mental healthcare issues.
One body was anticipated to represent mental health consumers, and the other to represent families, carers and kin of mental health consumers.
The Alliance encourages the Federal Government to work with existing consumer and carer organisations and their members collaboratively in the establishment of these peaks to avoid waste and duplication.
The group stated that the Alliance represents consumers from across the country through its grassroots membership via the state and territory peak bodies.
Together, the new body represents around 8,000 individuals who have experienced mental health challenges, with the collective purpose of advocating for systemic change at both the state/territory and national levels.
Member organisations are committed to increasing the cultural and racial diversity of consumer representation both in their home jurisdiction and at a national level.
The Alliance has over 135 years of collective experience in consumer leadership, representation, and advocacy and as such is the obvious choice for the government to assign peak body status to mental health consumers in Australia.
This article was originally published in the Third Sector.