Mental Health Productivity Inquiry Submission

Better Place Australia’s response to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into the Social and Economic Benefits of Improving Mental Health is based on the experiences of over
9000 clients across.

Better Place Australia notes that there is an opportunity for a number of embedded and supported systematic interventions/gateways across the family law, aged care, financial hardship and school systems that could support people with mental health issues, mental illnesses and those at risk of suicide.

Serge Sardo, the CEO of Better Place Australia says, “The focus on healthcare as the gateway to mental health service support is too narrow. Familial context and life events present opportunities to intervene and respond to mental health conditions when people are supported through services that address the difficult changes that are happening in their lives”.

The opportunities for interventions are similar to a public health intervention model. Better Place Australia urges that the Productivity Commission look beyond health pathways and consider how the journey of a people at risk of experiencing a mental health issue could be better responded to by facilitating connections and pathway between systems in a more formal and integrated way.

Better Place Australia provides services to clients who are approaching or are in a crisis state due to their mental health, personal relationship or financial circumstances. It finds a very strong correlation between these. Underlying the individual or family circumstances may be mental health issues.

This reflects the episodic nature of mental health conditions where the client can have experienced heightened levels of acuity and also non-symptomatic periods. For clients the
current or impending crises may be:

  • elevation of family conflict into the Family Court
  • family fracturing where mental health of a family member is present
  • child behavioural issues and family dysfunction
  • financial issues potentially leading to bankruptcy
  • care decisions for an aging parent or severe distress caused by an adult child’s abuse
  • lack of local support services leading to crisis situations
  • clients falling through the cracks in their journey through the family courts, financial and/or mental health systems.

Serge Sardo says “At a systemic level, mental health services, family separation support and debt crisis response services are not purposefully integrated and there is often a disconnect
between Federally, State and Locally funded programs. There should be a multi-point entry into the mental health support system.”


Serge Sardo is available for interview on 0439 578 277. He is also available to travel to
Melbourne Studios. Media Contact – Graeme Westaway 0438 318 311.

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