The Government are currently aiming for Queenslanders to be the healthiest people in the world within the next ten years. Centred in this mission is mental health and aiding suffers across a broad spectrum.
Unfortunately, refugees have not been mentioned at all in the Governments new plans to better mental health in our state. Refugee’s are some of the biggest suffers of mental health issues, as people who have escaped war-torn countries and now deal with the trauma as a result.
The Palaszczuk Government recently revealed their new plan to battle mental health, alcohol and drug related issues, dedicating $350 million to the cause.
Minister for Health and Ambulance Services, Cameron Dick announced during Queensland’s Mental Health Week, Connecting Care to Recovery; a five-year plan to guide the government’s investment in mental health and alcohol and other drug services.
“This new plan – funded by an additional $350 million over five years – aims to significantly increase funding to mental health after three years of LNP cuts drove Queensland’s staffing and spending on mental health to the lowest in Australia,” he said.
The government will be working closely with Primary Health Networks as well as non-government and community organisations to improve the services being delivered across the state.
The Minister says the plan will work towards providing easier access to mental health, alcohol and drug services across a variety to settings.
“It will also expand the capacity and range of specialized, contemporary service options available to deliver responsive and individualized care,” he said.
Queensland Alliance for Mental Health CEO, Kris Trott commended the Minister for investing in community-managed mental health services.
“The commitment to increase and improve in-reach to individuals admitted to bed-based services, among other initiatives, is an important step in providing adequate health services for Queenslanders,” Ms Trott said.
Queensland Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies (QNADA) CEO, Rebecca Macbean welcomed the investment in additional alcohol and other drug services.
“The impact of alcohol and other drugs requires a whole of community response, which is why it’s exciting for us to welcome a plan like this which is investing in non-government alcohol and other drug services,” she said.
“We know these services are dealing with growing demand, and this additional investment, especially into vital services like counselling and residential rehabilitation, will make a real difference on the ground.”
The Minister says the plan aligned with the direction and principles of the government’s 10-year vision for health, My health, Queensland’s future: Advancing Health 2026.
“As a government, we are dedicated to fulfilling our goal of Queenslanders being among the healthiest people in the world by 2026, and mental health is a crucial determinant of an individual’s health and wellbeing,” he said.
“That is why it is vital that we continue to invest in mental health and alcohol and drug services, and to build on our relationships with non-government and community organizations.”
Currently in the Minister plan there is no initiative on how it will assist refugees facing mental health issues or how government workers may assist refugees on places like Nauru Island.
Australian company, Connect, provides welfare services for refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru and have told the Turnbull government they no longer want to provide services on the island.
The company which staffs approximately 100 people, provides multiple services to the refugees on the Island from health and education at any given time, while also providing them with employment in the Nauru community. At this stage all workers however are planning to leave.
The decision to leave Nauru has come about from Connect staff feeling incompetent to be dealing with the complex issues that the refugee people have. Issues like mental health and child protection.
Professor Michael Balfour, researcher in learning and social change, has found in his research an emotional and psychological connection to trauma that refugee’s experience and how it can have long lasting if not permanent effects on the individual and boarder communities.
“Recognizing the signs of mental health issues is the first step in helping people who have come from war and conflict. People who are suffering for anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder need a system of support in place for them, as anyone else suffering from mental health,” Professor Balfour said.
In his research he as seen how conditions such as PTSD can have lasting effects that can impact a person’s entire life. Effecting their physical and mental health and ultimately reducing their lively-hood and opportunities being presented in the future.
“Disorders like this are often chronic and impairing, the person suffering from mental health issues can be effected in a way which results in consequences that extend beyond the individual to impact their family and community.
A Connect spoke’s person confirmed that the company will not pursue a new contract on Nauru, though would not say why.
Connect staff have been trying to aid refugees with issues of assault, sexual abuse and mental health issues. They have raised concerns many times with the Australian government regarding the well-being of their client’s.
A media officer of the Minister of Health, has confirm that there are no related plans to help refugees in the new initiative. However, they have been working with refugee groups trying to make their transition to South East Queensland easier and continue to work towards making life in Australia better.