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Productivity Commission mental health inquiry

About the inquiry

In November 2018, the Australian Productivity Commission started an inquiry into the role of mental health in the Australian economy and the best ways to support and improve national mental wellbeing.

The inquiry considered how mental illness could affect all aspects of a person's quality of life, including physical health, social participation, education, employment and financial status.

It looked at how Australia's governments , employers, and professional and community groups in healthcare, education, employment, social services, housing and justice could contribute to improving mental health for people of all ages and cultural backgrounds.

Professor Harvey Whiteford, a former Chair of the Queensland Mental Health and Drug Advisory Council and a member of the National Mental Health Commission's Advisory Board, was appointed as an Associate Commissioner to assist with the inquiry.

Inquiry papers

Our initial submission

The QMHC's initial submission to the inquiry noted that refor to improve mental health and wellbeing, and social and economic participation would have to stretch beyond the health system.

It called for a balanced approach to investment across the health, social and human service systems to achieve good mental health and wellbeing; prevent and reduce the impact of mental illness, problematic alcohol and other drug use; and prevent suicide.

Read the QMHC's Initial Submission to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health, April 2019

Draft report

The Productivity Commission released its draft report on 31 October 2019.

The five core reform areas within the draft report were:

  • prevention and early intervention
  • closing critical gaps in healthcare services
  • investment in services beyond health
  • getting people into work and helping them remain there
  • care navigation, coordination, governance and funding.

The draft report proposes two distinct models to reform the mental health system:

  • the Renovate model, which embraces current efforts at cooperation between Primary Health Networks (PHNs) and local hospital networks
  • the Rebuild model, under which state and territory governments would establish Regional Commissioning Authorities (RCAs) that pool funds from all tiers of government and commission nearly all mental healthcare and psychosocial carer supports (outside the NDIS) for people living within their catchment areas. RCAs would take over PHN mental health commissioning responsibilities and would also commission more acute mental healthcare.

Our submission on the draft report

The QMHC supports the strategic intent behind the draft report's recommendations and proposes further consideration and translation for the Queensland context. 

Our submission on the draft report has focused on providing a high-level commentary on key areas of impact and relevance for Queensland.

This is a landmark inquiry that brings an opportunity for true reform to improve the lives of all Australians, and especially those experiencing mental health challenges. The QMHC looks forward to the release of the final report and its implementation.