Mental Health Minister’s first year report card a fail


After a year in the job, the Minister for Mental Health Emma Davidson seems to have little understanding of the system the Barr Government has entrusted her with administering.

Today in Estimates Hearings, the Minister displayed an alarming lack of knowledge of how the mental health system in Canberra is supposed to work.

The Minister for Mental Health:

  • could not describe any complaints handling process across the ACT mental health system as a whole
  • could not clearly explain the difference between the roles of the Chief Psychiatrist and the Mental Health Co-ordinator or who is responsible for addressing issues in the acute mental health system in the ACT
  • had no idea how many of the 66 recommendations from last term’s damning Assembly Inquiry into Youth Mental Health Youth have been implemented
  • could not say what laws she, as Minister, was responsible for administering

Shadow Minister for Health Giulia Jones said under questioning today, the Minister confirmed she has not received a single report for improvement in the mental health acute system from the Chief Psychiatrist. Alarmingly, she indicated she only has a ‘chat’ sometimes with the Chief Psychiatrist.

“The Minister offered no timeframe for the implementation of the recommendations of the Assembly’s Inquiry into Youth Mental Health of August last year," Mrs Jones said

“She could offer no accurate information on the ACT’s acute mental health system, yet alone any plan to fix problems in the system.

“People who have loved ones suffering from mental health issues should be alarmed at the Minister’s performance in Estimates today.

“There are people all over Canberra who have had bad experiences in the ACT mental health system and who want to see the system fixed.

“After a year in the job, the Minister’s performance today was not only disappointing, but raises questions about whether she is abrogating her responsibilities as a minister.

“Like all Australians, the people of Canberra, are concerned about the incidence of people with mental health issues in our community, and they expect, and deserve, better,” Mrs Jones concluded.

The Minister for Mental Health is charged with the responsibility to administer the Mental Health Act 2015 and the Mental Health (Secure Facilities) Act 2016.