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Government to invest $8.5 million supporting those with a lived experience of mental health to shape the policies and programs that affect them.

Funding of $7.5 million will establish and operate two independent national mental health lived experience peak bodies – one representing consumers and the other representing carers, families and kin.

Lived Experience Australia will also receive $900,000 to continue its work to lead lived experience research and build the capacity of consumers and carers. Funding of $100,000 will establish a regular stakeholder forum to increase transparency, accountability and partnership with the sector.

These steps address recommendations made in recent inquiries including the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Mental Health and work undertaken by the National Mental Health Commission.

The announcement of two independent national peak bodies comes as the Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler and Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Emma McBride hosted people with lived experience alongside experts, clinicians and service providers at the Mental Health and Equity and Access Forum in Canberra.

People with a lived experience of mental ill-health made up the largest cohort of the more than 80 attendees, sharing invaluable insights into a system in need of repair.

The Forum recognised the shared goals of the Government, the mental health sector, and those with lived experience and a commitment to working together to continue to build an equitable mental health system.

Discussions at the Forum focused on how to make services more affordable and accessible to those who need them most, as part of a broader system of care.

The Forum follows the release of the independent Better Access evaluation by Melbourne University, which showed that while the program delivers promising outcomes, many Australians continue to miss out.

In 2022, less than half of people from low socioeconomic backgrounds in major cities were able to access the treatment they needed – despite most services being delivered in these areas.

Mark Butler said, “Mental ill health can affect every Australian, but we know that it hits some of us harder than others. Which is why we brought together people with lived experience alongside experts and clinicians to discuss how to improve mental health for everyone, whether you live in the wealthiest suburbs of our capital cities or the poorest parts of regional Australia.”

“Hearing from those with lived experience is incredibly important to making improvements in mental health. Progress will come from putting consumers and carers first.”

“These two independent national bodies will amplify the voices of consumers and carers to drive equitable reform in mental health,” he said.

McBride also said, “The further you live outside a big city the worse your access to mental health care is likely to be – this needs to change.”

“We are committed to build a system that works well for everyone, wherever they live and whatever they earn.”

“This investment puts the voices of people with lived and living experience at the centre of decision-making as we work together to create a fairer, improved, system that meets the needs of Australians,” she added.

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