Government and governance, Social policy, Health | Australia

27 September 2019

On this episode of Policy Forum Pod, we take a look at the state of Australia’s mental health policies and discuss why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people suffer disproportionately from a system that is disconnected from the communities that it’s supposed to serve.

Despite greater openness about mental health, the stigma attached to, for example, depression and anxiety disorders still runs deep in our society. At this rate, problems are starting to outrun the solutions, with mental health disorders becoming more and more prevalent and services stretched – an issue particularly affecting Indigenous people. On this episode of Policy Forum Pod, we have a powerful conversation with Julie Tongs, Sebastian Rosenberg, and Stewart Sutherland about whether more plans equals better policy, and how forced separation and institutional racism still affect Australia’s Indigenous communities. Listen here:

Pod presenters Sharon Bessell and Martyn Pearce also go over some of your suggestions for future episodes of Policy Forum Pod and give some details about the upcoming Great Green Debate which will be recorded live for Policy Forum Pod. You can register for that event here.

Before you listen to the discussion, we’d like to issue a warning, particularly to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander listeners, that this episode includes discussion on the death of Indigenous peoples. Some people might find the content of this episode distressing.

If you or your loved ones are struggling with mental health, know that there is help. You can reach out to Lifeline Australia’s crisis support at 13 11 14 – available 24/7.

Julie Tongs is the Chief Executive Officer of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services. Julie has more than 30 years’ experience working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs and was the ACT Indigenous Person of the Year.

Stewart Sutherland is a Lecturer at The Australian National University College of Health and Medicine. For over a decade he has worked in Indigenous health focusing on identity and mental health particularly Social and Emotional Wellbeing of the Stolen Generations.

Sebastian Rosenberg is a Research Fellow at ANU and Senior Lecturer at the Brain and Mind Centre at the University of Sydney. He was a public servant for 16 years, working in health in both state and federal governments.

Sharon Bessell is a Professor at Crawford School of Public Policy, where she is co-leader of the ANU Individual Deprivation Measure (IDM) team. The IDM is a new, gender-sensitive and multidimensional measure of poverty.

Martyn Pearce is a presenter for Policy Forum Pod and the Editor of Policy Forum.

Show notes | The following were referred to in this episode:

Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing – 1997 and 2007


National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan

First National Mental Health Plan (1993)

Suicide Prevention in New Zealand

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