Govt axes highly anticipated mental health pilot
The Government’s decision to axe a universally-supported pilot to improve the response to 111 mental health calls is
nothing short of disgraceful, especially after Labour pledged to make mental health a priority, National’s Police
spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“It has been revealed that Labour has scrapped a pilot in which a mental health nurse would attend mental health
incidents alongside police and paramedics to ensure that people in distress receive timely responses that are tailored
to their needs.
“Police spend around 280 hours a day responding to mental health calls. They do a good job, but are not mental health
professionals so having a mental health nurse deployed to incidents with police would make a real difference.
“The increasing demand on police to respond to mental health crises is set to continue. That’s why the National
Government set aside $8 million for the pilot as part of our $100 million mental health package.
“Police Minister Stuart Nash confirmed in answers to written questions the day of the Police Estimates hearing that the
pilot would be canned, yet Police Commissioner Mike Bush told the hearing that police were very hopeful it would
continue – in front of Mr Nash.
“Mr Nash has admitted that police are dealing with more and more mental health cases. The pilot would have eased
pressure on police and improved the quality of the response for those experiencing mental distress.
“It beggars belief that this Government would axe the potentially game-changing pilot which had universal support from
those on the frontline dealing with mental health, including mental health expert Nigel Fairley who said in February
that the pilot was top of his spending list.
“The Government is again wilfully disregarding the expert advice and belittling calls from police and mental health
experts to improve first responder processes.
“People need more help now. The Government must listen to the experts and reinstate funding for this pilot immediately.”