Disability and Mental health funding in disrepair


That punch line for those politicians, who can only see the shiny dollar, would be “for every dollar spent now, we save more than $100 in the future”. Yet even that does little to change the views of governments who see our long-term future as the period between elections. The rest of us as a compassionate society would consider the plight of our disadvantaged children tantamount or essentially a “Top Priority” when we consider issues like safety, quality of life and medical needs.

Who would you give the lifeboat to first, Politicians, industry leaders or your children?

While our governments flash the often-false promise of school buildings, tiny tax breaks and dodgy insulation schemes, they are using their left hand to steal from other services, leaving the biggest victims “Our Disabled Children and victims of abuse”, with out the urgent support they need.

Disability services, mental health support groups and similar services are not simply a little behind.  My findings are such that even if South Australia were to have their funding doubled tomorrow, we would “Still lag behind other States of Australia” which is nothing more than a bloody disgrace.

Our Federal government has had a free ride for too long now.  Simply because the kind people of this fine Country have scraped together donations to make up the short fall does not excuse their lack of commitment.  They need to realize the citizens of our Country can no longer afford to make up for all of their short comings, both in regards to inadequate funding and lack of services. It is time for our government to get their (our) priorities right.

If money is the only object are they too blind to see that investment now in support, equipment and services will save them (we the tax payers) a fortune in the future. We need to “enable” our children in order for them become a productive part of society, rather than be labeled a financial liability to our countries long-term future.

While Mental health services languish on a meager 6% of health service funding, the demand for services continues to rise as do expenses, well over 400 children on Novita SA, equipment waiting lists rated critical. (Novita have the job of supplying all equipment statewide) With the tiny budget of only $500,000 per year, those in need have a long wait if funding even remained steady let alone continuing in the wrong direction, so you all understand the situation. Less than 5 million would almost clear the waiting list, yet our government and the coalition are making unfounded promises, which still do not hit the mark.

What would we call it if a parent left a child in despair and discomfort, to spend all their savings on a plasma screen?

With demand for most health services rise in most cases to over 9.0% per annum and inflation running at over 3.5%, funding needs to be increased to keep up. A 13% urgent catch up is needed to bring South Australia into line with the other states and would require over a 50% increase in overall health care funding at a federal level. Which is not be on the agenda. A reasonable increase in overall funding with an emphasis on disability and mental health services is imperative.

The words critical, children and waiting lists should never occur in the same sentence full stop.  Many issues have raised their ugly head whilst investigating the funding and urgent needs of our precious children.  Most health services surveyed in South Australia appear to be of little priority to our elected officials.

Rather than considering leading the way, we seem to not even be following. “Social inclusion Campaigns” which have proved very successful overseas have not been embraced. Rehabilitation services are under resourced and underutilized. Even early intervention and stigma reduction ideas are falling on deaf ears.

When we consider mental health disorders comprise of 13% of the total burden of disease and their funding allotment is at around 7%, it is easy to see why the system is failing. Likewise great organisations like Novita whose funding has remained stagnant, are struggling to do their best to deal with not only a rise in costs, wages and other costs, they are also trying to cope with providing for increased demand for their many services. Maybe our representatives could choose which children are left on the critical lists?

Most recipients of government funding expect some financial input from their clients and members or have means testing in place, yet organisations like Novita offer their services free of charge.  They are simply there to support children in need so how dare this government not only deny them a fair share, but also reduce their funding commitments at a state level?

The facts are clear and very simple in that funding must be increased to meet both demand and community expectations.  The financial savings from early intervention and social inclusion/awareness campaigns far outweigh the costs of their denial in empowering our children to play an active role in society.

As I hold in my hand the recent apology to those harmed in state care, adorning our premiers signature, one line in the document stands out “Our apology is given in a spirit of reconciliation and healing and with our commitment to contribute toward a child safe environment in our Government, our churches and the broader community” There should be no more need for apology’s, yet deliberately depriving those most in need is not in the spirit of their promise.

Mark M Aldridge

Independent Senate Candidate

P O Box 1073 Virginia S.A. 5120

08 82847482 / 0403379500



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