Carol McKelson-Timmins: Income protection is an issue at Health Super. As a fund for carers, about 80 per cent of our member base are women in the hospitals, either nursing staff or cleaners. I had a look at our income protection claims and 40 per cent of those claims that we’ve had have gone full term, which is two years for us, 40 per cent are mental health cases.
Don McDonald: Superfriend and Read the Signs are unbelievable initiatives. It’s fantastic. But the point that I’m trying to make is, having experienced the system, it would be a tremendous thing if this group were able to join forces with Australian scientists who are trying to push this issue and to approach the government…to say to the government: look, we’re doing our bit; this is what we’re doing. You should do your bit. And you should be getting behind these scientists who are trying to develop more effective treatments, find the means to prevent or cure because to ask these doctors and nurses to grapple with this problem with current treatments is like asking a carpenter to build a house with a blunt saw and hammer. Now it’s as simple as that. I’ve got a great deal of respect for the scientists, but they quite frankly don’t know how to push this.
Helen Hewett: I think the initiative that the industry funds are doing collectively are fantastic initiatives. But we’re only a very small part of the community. We are there as trustees to grow retirement benefits for people, but we’re also there to make sure they get to enjoy those times by being mentally healthy – and by being alive.
One of the IFF Mental Health Foundation’s objectives is to do what we can to join the other voices to make sure mental health gets on to the agenda. We can’t ask our insurers to solve the problems of mental health in the community. We can’t expect the funds to solve those problems. It’s just beyond any group, I think. But it’s not beyond us if we get together with other organisations across the mental health sector.
When I went to some of these forums with some of the mental health groups these people are so committed to what they’re doing and they are so starved of funds that they’re almost attacking or sniping at one another sometimes. And that was a real problem when we first started doing some work because a lot of funds said, no no, I’m not going up there. I’ve tried it and it was just a disaster because one trustee liked Beyond Blue, one liked Life Line…so I’m not going to do anything. We’re just going to stick our heads in the sand and do nothing. Those organisations are now working much more effectively together, certainly with us anyway.