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Robodebt Royal Commission shows why we need to put mental health at the centre of Government

The national grassroots campaign group Australians for Mental Health (AfMH) is today calling for reform of government processes so that a “Mental Health Impact Statement” becomes a requirement when legislation is being drafted and public policy developed.

AfMH Chief Executive Chris Gambian said today that the catastrophic failures by both elected politicians and public servants outlined in the just released RoboDebt Royal Commission report demonstrated that mental health considerations needed to become an established part of the machinery of government.

"When governments make decisions they are normally expected to carefully consider the implications — financial risks must be taken into account, legal issues considered and wherever relevant, environment impacts are vetted."

"Shouldn’t it also be then, as a matter of ordinary administrative process, that when there is an impact on citizens, governments consider the impacts on mental health and well-being as well?"

Mr Gambian said that mental health considerations should be assessed, understood and considered before major policy decisions are taken.

"The public should be able to access these deliberations through Freedom of Information requests, and diligent Senators should be able to quiz Ministers and public servants about them during the Estimates process."

"In short, governments should be systematically accountable for the choices they make that have direct or indirect consequences for the mental health of individuals or the population at large."

Mr Gambian said that ultimately, development of a “Mental Health Impact Statement" protocol would pay for itself with better decision making.

"With a systematised process to considering mental health — both the opportunities to improve and risks to harm — across the whole of government, and not just the health portfolio, we could see extraordinary improvements to the lives of Australians, better outcomes against other policy objectives, and ultimately a lower cost burden on the Treasury."

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