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February 2021

MEDIA RELEASE: Election 2021 scorecard

MENTAL health policies of the four key political parties have been evaluated and included in a Mental Health State Election 2021 scorecard, released by the Western Australian Association for Mental Health (WAAMH) today, with gold stars given to policies that progress the targets set in the ten year mental health plan.

Using publicly announced policies and information provided by the parties, each policy was assessed against the targets set out in the State Government’s own ten-year mental health plan Better Choices, Better Lives 2015–2025 and will be used to inform WA voters ahead of the State Election, 2021.

All key state parties were invited to provide details on their policies to address the five domains of mental health service delivery (Prevention, Community Support, Community Beds, Community Treatment and Hospital Beds) and whether they progress the targets of 5% of funding for mental health prevention and 22% for community support of the WA mental health budget.

WAAMH CEO Taryn Harvey said it was important to remember that when it came to mental health service delivery, allocation of funding streams needed to be person-centred, which did not necessarily mean the most expensive.

“The current Government may be spending record amounts of funding on mental health but it’s not about how much you spend, it is how you spend it,” Ms Harvey said.

“Funding must be directed to prevention and community supports that enable recovery.

"This will ensure the best outcomes for people and make our system sustainable, instead of driving people towards acute and emergency services which are the most expensive to operate.

“WA spends the most per capita on mental health compared to all Australian states and territories, and yet our outcomes are lagging behind those of other jurisdictions.”

Let the scoring begin!

A full assessment of each party policy:

WA spending

  • WA spends the most per capita on mental health compared to all Australian states and territories, spending   $325 per person on mental health compared to the national average of $274 per person (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
  • WA has the highest number of publicly provided acute beds per person of all the states and territories (Productivity Commission Mental Health Inquiry Final Report)
  • WA’s share of funding to community support was just 5.1% of the mental health budget (WA State Budget 2020-21) – even less than the national average of 6.46% (AIHW 2020)
  • WA spends $1595 per each hospital bed day (WA MHC Annual Report 2019-20, compared to a national average of $1328 (AIHW).

Indicators of effectiveness

  • WA’s rate of emergency department presentations is rising faster than the national average (PC Report)
  • The Productivity Commission found that the services being commissioned in WA do not reduce the demand on EDs.
  • The Auditor General found that continuing gaps in the range of community based services mean that people cannot access the most appropriate services as their mental health deteriorates, resulting in them seeking care through EDs. The Auditor General goes on to say that this is often not the most appropriate care setting for them and increases the pressure and cost in EDs.
  • Of all people presenting to an emergency department in WA almost 4% present for a mental health issue – the highest of all jurisdictions except South Australia (AIHW 2020) with the national average 3.6% (PC Report)
  • 16.5% of people are readmitted to an acute specialised mental health hospital bed within 28 days of discharge – when our target is less than 12% (WA MHC Annual Report 2019-20)
  • 27% of people in an inpatient bed could be discharged if there was supported accommodation or community support available to meet their needs (Mental Health Inpatient Snapshot Survey 2019)

Media contact:
Sarah Quinton
Campaign Manager
Western Australian Association for Mental Health
0439 439 233



Prevent, Support, Heal

Authorised by Taryn Harvey, CEO
Western Australian Association for Mental Health
1 Nash Street, Perth, WA 6000
08 6246 3000
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