Over 70 mental health organisations have written to prime minister Tony Abbott imploring him to maintain $300m in annual funding to mental health services that are preparing to sack staff as they face an end to commonwealth grants on 30 June.
Groups including Headspace, Suicide Prevention Australia, the Black Dog Institute and Sane Australia wrote that “the continued uncertainty is now resulting in services being shut down and staff attrition”.
“This issue has now reached crisis point,” they said.
The groups said that without certainty of funding, “some agencies have indicated … they will have to give staff notice of termination of employment in a matter of days”.
“This ongoing uncertainty is causing a huge disruption to organisations and, increasingly, deep anxiety amongst the people they serve.”
Former health minister Peter Dutton commissioned a review of mental health services in February last year to make sure the commonwealth was getting the best value for its spending in the area.
The government received its report last November, but it has not yet been made public and the government has not indicated how it will respond.
“We are asking the government to provide some certainty in the short term to give time for consultations and planning when the review is released,” said Frank Quinlan, chief executive of Mental Health Australia.
Health minister Sussan Ley said the government was finalising the immediate future funding for the organisations.
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“In my consultations with mental health organisations I have been highly conscious of the need for certainty and we’re committed to working with the sector to continue delivering frontline services to those who need it,” she said. She said the review of mental health programs would be released soon.
Other groups that signed the letter were R U OK Day, Adults Surviving Child Abuse, Anglicare, Catholic Health and Catholic Social Services.
Mental health grants from the department of social services have already been guaranteed past 30 June.
The plea from mental health groups comes after the government agreed to extend homelessness funding for another two years, after that sector also faced a crisis of uncertainty with funding due to end on 30 June.
Social services minister Scott Morrison announced he would find another $230m so the government could extend the national partnership agreement on homelessness with the states until 2017, maintaining the same level of federal funding as for 2014-2015.