Tasmanian Liberal Party outlines pledge to tackle mental health

Tasmania’s first specialist mental health facilities for young people will be set up if the Liberal Party wins the election.

On Saturday, a $95 million mental health package was pledged by the Liberal Party to cover the next six years.

It includes new mental health beds, setting up a mental health task force in Southern Tasmania, funding for the Mental Health Council of Tasmania, and pledging $400,000 over two years for a Eating Disorders Peer Workers Partnership with the Butterfly Foundation.

None of the pledged 25 new mental health beds will be opened in the state’s North, as they are designated to Mistral Place and Peacock Centre in Hobart.

Launceston General Hospital will receive eight new beds on the Children's Ward 4K, including a dedicated Adolescent Unit, and an estimated additional 26 full-time staff will be recruited.

The Royal Hobart Hospital has been pledged double this number of beds, with plans to open a 16 bed Adolescent Unit and recruit an estimated 50 new full-time staff. 

Health Minister Michael Ferguson said this was more than double the mental health beds promised by Labor.

The Labor Party made a $23.5 million pledge earlier in the month to target mental health as part of its overall $560 million health policy.

Labor pledged up to 10 additional mental health beds to provide a total of 42 acute mental health beds close to the Royal Hobart Hospital.

When asked about the announcement, Labor leader Rebecca White said the Liberals had a very Southern-centric approach to health.

“The Liberal Party should be worried and they should be ashamed with their record on health in Tasmania.”

It was the number one issue Tasmanians were voting on this election, she said.

The Mental Health Council of Tasmania chief executive officer Connie Digolis said she welcomed the new promise to explore ways to improve how the state’s mental health was implemented.

“The prevalence of mental ill health in our communities means there are few more important announcements than this one for our communities during this election campaign,” Ms Digolis said.

Green Party leader Cassy O’Connor said the mental health sector has been underfunded and neglected by successive governments.