Media Release: Mental Health Chair Steps Down Amid Labor's Action

Mental Health Australia Chair Matt Berriman has today announced that he is stepping down from his role, citing frustration with the Albanese Labor Government’s complete lack of action on mental health as the cause.

The Coalition commends Mr Berriman for his outstanding work as Chair of Australia’s peak body for mental health since he was appointed to the role in December 2021. Mr Berriman has provided a strong voice for all Australians impacted by mental health, bravely sharing his own lived experience and boldly calling for greater action from this Federal Government.

Mr Berriman has strongly advocated for mental health to be considered a national priority amidst a rising crisis particularly among young Australians. He has brought greater attention to the issue of affordability, and he has called out the Albanese Government’s decision to slash access to Medicare-subsidised psychology sessions in half.

When the Government hands down their Budget next month, it will mark exactly 500 days since they made their devastating cuts to the Better Access initiative, which impacted the most vulnerable Australians.

Labor’s cut ripped away critical support from around 240,000 Australians, who had been prescribed the additional 10 sessions by their medical practitioner. This completely ignores the fact that serious mental ill-health should be treated in the same way as physical medical conditions.

Since then, Labor has failed to introduce a single new measure to directly improve Australians’ affordable access to mental health support. It is a serious concern that Labor’s next Budget will continue this harmful trend.

Shadow Minister for Health Anne Ruston said that it is absolutely disgraceful that the Albanese Government is ignoring the issue of mental health to such a degree that the peak body’s Chair has now decided to resign. 

“I have personally valued the time Mr Berriman has spent talking to me about Australia’s mental health system and how we could make tangible improvements.

“He is an incredibly strong voice in the sector, and I know that although he will be missed as Chair of Mental Health Australia, he will continue to fight for better mental health outcomes in Australia.”

The Coalition remains committed to making mental health a priority.

In Government, we developed Australia’s Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan and invested record amounts in mental health support including almost $3 billion as a part of our Plan.

We are committed to reestablishing the full 20 Medicare-subsidised psychology sessions that were cut by Labor if elected, and we will support any sensible measures to ensure Australians have timely and affordable access to critical mental health support when they need it.

Australia needs a system that focuses on prevention and early intervention, while providing comprehensive support for people experiencing severe and complex mental health conditions, along with their family, carers and supporters.


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