So, older people are retrenched, and no one wants to employ them. Pat McGorry: We lobbied for HeadSpace before the 2004 election. It received bipartisan support, and the idea was how do you get a stigma-free soft-entry zone into mental health care? Young people weren’t going to GPs or getting anywhere near our specialist mental health service. If they did, they didn’t like the look of what they saw. In Melbourne, we’ve developed Orygen Youth Health which was bridging this adolescent young adult gap. We were seeing 800 young people a year – but turning away 1200. And there were another probably 20,000 that we couldn’t access. We needed a primary-care end, high-volume system which was HeadSpace: primary care, allied health, vocation workers, and drug and alcohol expertise. It’s proved the concept that young people will come to a stigmafree zone. It’s youth-friendly, in shopping malls and other youth settings. Young men will come: 30 per cent of the 20,000 people who’ve been to a Head Space site are young men. The outcomes are good so far: 93 per cent of young people and their families feel they’ve benefited from it. So, I think the Government’s poised to extend it, expand and fund more sites.

The question is: will they fund it properly to make them work? Mark Woodward: You need a good PR agency. I’m quite serious. This whole thing has to be galvanised and given focus. The analogy is prostate cancer: its profile has been raised out in a few years. John Mendoza: For Government, the take-home message is ‘It’s like the road accident thing’. Australia now has among the lowest road-death rates worldwide, and that’s been a strategic longterm investment by government, underpinned by incredibly good data. The Federal black-spot campaign delivered a dividend of $3 for every dollar invested, and that’s not a big return. Access Economics’ study on mental health shows 10:1 is the investment return on early intervention with mental health, in some cases even better. It’s the boffins in Treasury you have to convince that the investment is better than a hospital bed. Chris (Shipway) and his colleagues battle against politicians responding to the acute-care access backlog, the ambulance diversion. State health ministers in particular have to respond to those things, otherwise they’re out of their job very quickly. Colin Tate: Are you hearing something in this: that super funds and insurers can do more with their members, or with government?

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