Australia needs Better Access to psychological treatment
  • Petitioning Senator Penny Wright

This petition will be delivered to:

The Greens, Representative on Mental Health
Senator Penny Wright
Minister for Health
Peter Dutton MP

Australia needs Better Access to psychological treatment

    1. Dr Ben Mullings
    2. Petition by

      Dr Ben Mullings

      Attadale, Australia

To the Honourable President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled:

The petition of the undersigned shows from 1 January 2013 the Australian Government intends to cut psychological treatment in the ‘Better Access’ scheme, from the current 16 appointments per calendar year to just 10 sessions, with no exceptions. Limiting therapy to 10 appointments is unacceptable. When distressed people experiencing a mental health disorder reach out for help, we need to have a system that gives them a fair chance to recover. We are asking for evidence-based reform, allowing those with a diagnosed mental health condition to access the internationally recognised standard of care.

Your petitioners ask that the Senate to amend the Better Access to Mental Health Care initiative, to provide a minimum of 15 appointments of psychological treatment, with an additional 5 sessions per year for those experiencing chronic or severe levels of distress.

For more information, please visit our website at http://betteraccess.net/

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Alliance for Better Access: improving mental health care policy

      Dr Ben Mullings
      Petition Organizer

      Hello everyone,

      Mental health care in Australia is a serious issue which is why more and more people are signing our petition. We have been quiet lately as we wait on the outcome of a national review of all mental health care services. Our hope is that our leaders and policy-makers will see the value of psychological care accessible for all age groups in Australia.

      We would like to make you aware of one possible way forward, namely, a political party which is dedicated to mental health policy reform. This is not only a new thing for Australia, but also a world first - and they are throwing their support behind our campaign for Medicare supported psychological care to be expanded.

      You can find our more or join the Mental Health Party at http://www.thementalhealthparty.com/membership/

      If you use social media you can also find the Mental Health Party on Twitter (@TMHParty) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/TheMentalHealthParty).

      Take care everyone.

      Dr Ben Mullings
      Counselling Psychologist
      BSc(Psych), MPsych(Counselling Psychology), PhD(Psychology)

      On behalf of 'The Alliance for Better Access'

      The Mental Health Party

      The Mental Health Party. 1,686 likes · 70 talking about this. The first Political Party that exists in the world that represents all of those with mental...

    2. Reached 15,000 signatures
    3. Labor's Mental Health Care Plan

      Dr Ben Mullings
      Petition Organizer

      In the lead-up to the federal election we will be providing a summary about where each major party stands on Better Access to Mental Health Care. Our first summary takes a look at the current Government policy direction over the past 3 years, which has seen access to psychological care reduced by 45% in the Medicare system for each patient. Read more about it at http://www.betteraccess.net/index.php/information/articles/labors-mhcp

    4. Reached 12,500 signatures
    5. A new model for mental health care in Australia

      Dr Ben Mullings
      Petition Organizer

      A few months ago we decided to ask our supporters what kind of system they wanted the Australian Federal Government to put in place for Medicare supported psychological treatment. You can find the model they came up with at http://www.betteraccess.net/docs/MODEL.pdf

      We are calling for a re-think of our mental health care system (find out more at http://www.betteraccess.net/index.php/information/latest-news/rethink).

      We need your help to get those numbers up for our petition because next week we will send the petition on to be lodged. If you can spare a moment please send a short email to your contacts and help us cross the finish line. Every voice makes a difference!

    6. Reached 5,000 signatures
    7. Ten sessions is not enough - a simple diagram

      Dr Ben Mullings
      Petition Organizer

      We have developed a simple diagram illustrating the reasons why offering people ten appoinments of psychological treatment is not enough. This is based on statistics from a study published 2 years ago in Australia, which speaks directly to the issue of Medicare supported psychological services. These figures are confirmed by a range of other studies, including the work of independent researchers. Feel free to disseminate our diagram and spread the word - "ten sessions is not enough!"

      To download the image, please visit <a href="http://betteraccess.net/docs/compared-change-small.jpg">our website</a>

    8. Political Cartoon - Mark Butler is counting to ten...

      Dr Ben Mullings
      Petition Organizer

      A cartoon has appeared, which sums up how a lot of people feel about the decision to cut to psychological treatment - the changes due to take effect at the beginning of 2013.

      To see our cartoon, please visit <a href="http://www.betteraccess.net/docs/Medicare2013.jpg">our website in this link</a>.

    9. Reached 4,000 signatures
    10. Question to Mark Butler, Federal Minister for Mental Health

      Dr Ben Mullings
      Petition Organizer

      This following video question was sent to ABC's Q&A program, hoping we might get an answer from the Australian Federal Minister for Mental Health, Mark Butler. Along with 5 other separate questions about cuts to psychological treatment services in the Better Access to Mental Health Care initiative, our question did not go to air. This is a serious issue, because by the end of the year, our Government plans to scale the program back even further - ten sessions with no exceptions.

      Feel free to share this video widely with those who may be interested via Twitter, Facebook, or other social media.

      The Alliance for Better Access is asking you to put YOUR question about the cuts to Better Access in a video - it's easier than you might think. If you're a mental health practitioner, now is the time to speak up, because we only have until the end of the year.

    11. Cuts to psychological care leave struggling Australians out of pocket

      Dr Ben Mullings
      Petition Organizer

      The AMA released figures last week showing that the proportion of doctors bulk-billing patients for preparing mental health plans has dropped from 78.1% prior to the cuts, down to just 38.6% following the cuts. The impact is that those who are least able to afford psychological care are now far less likely to be able to get a referral for treatment. Doctors are angry with the changes and rates of referral into the program have fallen since the cuts were introduced.

    12. Reached 3,000 signatures
    13. Professor McGorry breaks silence: Better Access cuts a mistake

      Dr Ben Mullings
      Petition Organizer

      The Alliance for Better Access has had a win!

      Former Australian of the Year, Professor Pat McGorry, has broken his silence, saying that cutting the Better Access program was a mistake. He told news.com.au (http://bit.ly/IEgR59) that the November 2011 cuts were ill-advised and plans to scale back the program at the end of this year "should be permanently taken off the table". He is concerned that the long-term foundational structure of our mental health system has been eroded in the latest Federal Budget, rather than strengthened and expanded as it should be.

      There is momentum gathering here people, so we are asking you to please ask people you know if they might also sign our petition. Spread the word, every voice makes a difference!

    14. Reached 1,500 signatures
    15. Open Letter to Professor Ian Hickie

      Dr Ben Mullings
      Petition Organizer

      Professor Ian Hickie has been a vocal critic of the Better Access to Mental Health Care initiative even before the program launched. The criticism that he has directed at the program has raised quite a few eyebrows and a lot of people in the general community have questions about what seem to be plain contradictions between the claims Hickie has been making versus well-established facts about the Australian mental health care system. We have put these questions to him in an open letter.

    16. Are we resigned to the status quo?

      Dr Ben Mullings
      Petition Organizer

      This week has been all about resignations. Our former PM resigned as Foreign Minister. Then Professor Ian Hickie refused to resign from the National Mental Health Commission, after mental health consumers called on him to step down over conflicts of interest. Finally, there was the sudden re-appearance today of a former mental health advisor to the government, John Mendoza, who resigned several years ago but now claims that Kevin Rudd is unfit to be Prime Minister. Many Australians involved in our campaign have wondered how it can be right for Kevin Rudd to resign, but wrong for Ian Hickie to step down? Surely the issue of restoring public faith in our representatives is far more important in the sensitive area of mental health, than whether the PM supports the Foreign Minister - isn't it?

    17. Everyday people need Better Access! (a video clip)

      Dr Ben Mullings
      Petition Organizer

      A mental health consumer has made a video illustrating the wide range of people affected by cuts to psychological services in Australia. The photos in the slideshow are real individuals who have stepped forward to volunteer their image, as a sign of protest against the cuts to services.

      Whether you have a job or you're unemployed; whether you're younger or older; whether you have family or loved ones around you, or you are all alone and wherever you happen to live - EVERY PERSON goes through rough times. And when you reach out for help, there needs to be a helping hand to connect with.

      Please share this video if it means something to you.

    18. Speed therapy: dealing with suicide in 10 sessions?

      Dr Ben Mullings
      Petition Organizer

      In an article published in The Courier yesterday, a psychologist and a patient warn that the cuts to psychological services put lives in danger, by rushing the treatment of complex issues around suicide. Click the link below to read more.

    19. Reached 1,000 signatures
    20. Professor Ian Hickie takes a swing at campaigners

      Dr Ben Mullings
      Petition Organizer

      In the past few days Hickie has been doing the rounds on radio and newspapers, portraying himself as a the victim of a personal campaign against him. We bring the attention back to the real victims in this situation: people with mental health conditions who are expected to recover in ten sessions.

    21. Reached 500 signatures
    22. Channel 7 story on cuts to 'Better Access' program

      Dr Ben Mullings
      Petition Organizer

      The story about the cost cutting going on with the Better Access program has now reached TV news. Consumer advocate Alison Fairleigh did an excellent job in speaking on behalf of the Alliance for Better Access. Please take a moment to visit the link on youtube to see our story and find out more about this important issue.

    23. Reached 250 signatures
    24. Media Release 4 February 2012

      Dr Ben Mullings
      Petition Organizer

      Temporary changes to mental health policy don’t go far enough

      Consumers have expressed measured relief that the Government has partially restored cuts to mental health services in the Better Access initiative, but have warned that the changes don‟t go far enough. Spokesperson for the Alliance for Better Access, Mr Ben Mullings, says they will not be satisfied until there has been a full restoration of services as they were prior to the 2011 Budget cuts. He argues that the public expects evidence-based mental health care.

      To read the full media release, please click on the link.

    25. Reached 100 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • adrian pakis AUSTRALIA
      • 10 days ago

      'change' is healthy when things are not working.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Matty J AUSTRALIA
      • 29 days ago

      Victim of workplace bullying

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Matthew Charlton AUSTRALIA
      • about 1 month ago

      Becuase i was directly affected my this change, as I used to access up to 18 counselling sessions a year - now i can only access 10, which is not even 1 a month for the calender year. Very inadequate indeed.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Michelle Buhagiar AUSTRALIA
      • about 1 month ago

      Im a patient and we need more psychologies that have better understanding of patients conditions. More research is required and make DBT courses available for everyone under Medicare not just for private patients who can afford health insurance.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Debra Frew AUSTRALIA
      • 2 months ago

      Because I suffer from anxiety and depression.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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