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SA Health requires a mental health assessment


The audit found gaps in the management of SA Health’s mental health services, including a lack of clarity about the roles of the state’s three mental health commissioners.

SA Auditor General Andrew Richardson

The South Australian Government spent $515.7 million on mental health services in 2019-20, covering psychiatric hospitals and wards, community services, inpatients and NGO grants.

Covid-19 has also led to increased demand for mental health services, with DHW committing additional resources to enhance existing services and implement new initiatives.

However, Auditor-General Andrew Richardson found that “key planning, monitoring and reporting processes to ensure access to mental health services are not working effectively”.

Because of these gaps, SA Health has not been able to demonstrate how effectively it is providing the public with access to the right mental health services at the right time, he says in the report released this week.

The audit also found a lack of administrative support for the state’s mental health commissioners, which affected their ability to do their jobs.

“The lack of clarity has prevented South Africa’s mental health commissioners from leading the implementation of initiatives to improve access to mental health services,” says Mr Richardson.

Among the main gaps identified are:

  • Lack of detail, strategies, outcome measures and reporting mechanisms in planning documents
  • Inefficient processes for obtaining and analyzing data on mental health services
  • Lack of reporting on access to mental health services

Verification says that in 2017 Strategic mental health The plan says 45 per cent of South Australians will experience a diagnosable mental illness at some point in their lives.

However, there is no single department or agency in government that has an overriding responsibility for mental health and well-being.

With unknown and unpredictable events such as catastrophic wildfires and pandemics, the need for mental health services changes.

Auditor-General of South Australia

“Due to unknown and unpredictable events such as catastrophic wildfires and pandemics, the need for mental health services is changing,” the report said.

“As a result, the challenge of providing access to mental health services in South Australia is significant.”

The Department of Health and Welfare says it has accepted the recommendations and will report publicly on progress in implementing them.

Mental health was a top priority for DHW and the government, deputy director-general Julien Tepoet said in a letter to the auditor-general.

“This audit comes at a time of continued expansion for the sector and will help deliver a significant number of projects and help review strategic and service plans,” she said.

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