Daily News Roundup

October 31, 2019

THURSDAY, October 31

All primary and high schools should have a full-time teacher with the responsibility for “mental health and wellbeing” of the children in the schools’ care according to a billion-dollar proposal put forward by the Federal Government’s key economic advisory body.

The idea is just one of many contained in the latest Productivity Commission report, which warns mental illness and suicide is costing the country an estimated $500 million per day.

The Government last year asked the commission to examine the effect of  mental health on economic participation and productivity.

In its draft report released today, it has documented long-standing problems in the system, including under-investment in prevention programs, an over-reliance on clinical services, difficulties in accessing support, and a lack of clarity between governments about their roles and responsibilities, leading to “persistent wasteful overlaps and yawning gaps in service provision”.

“Substantial reform of Australia’s mental health system is needed and there is no quick fix,” the report states.

The commission’s recommendations extend beyond just the health system and schools and into workplaces and the housing and justice sectors.

Chairman Michael Brennan said he believed there was government appetite for changes.

“Mental health remains one of the most significant policy challenges we face,” he said.

“It is an important health issue, an important broad social policy issue, but it is an economic policy issue as well; it has very significant economic costs which we estimate to be $180 billion per year.

“But that really represents what underlies that is pain felt by individuals and families who are spending years in mental ill health and not necessarily having services they need available to them.”

A key focus of the report is children, proposing that existing physical examinations of infants be expanded to include social and emotional wellbeing checks.

The report noted the approach was being rolled out across UK schools with early signs of success.

The cost of the reform is estimated to be up to $975 million each year for both public and private schools.

The rate of mental health presentations at emergency departments has risen by about 70 per cent over the past 15 years.

The report noted this was in part due to the lack of community-based alternatives to emergency departments, and exacerbated the distress of those with a mental illness.

It said it also frustrated and diverted emergency clinicians, paramedics and police, and that was an expensive way to treat acute mental illness.

To close some of the critical gaps in services, the commission has recommended after-hours and mobile crisis services be set up specifically for mental health patients.

It also recommended more beds for mental health patients both in hospitals and within community care.

If you or anyone you know needs help:


Meghan, Duchess of Sussex has personally phoned a British MP to thank her for penning an open letter of solidarity with the under-fire Royal, news agencies report.

On Tuesday Halifax MP Holly Lynch, along with 71 other female MPs from all corners of politics, sent the Duchess a letter to support her stand against “distasteful and misleading” coverage of her and her family in the UK’s tabloid press.

The letter said the “stories and headlines have represented an invasion of your privacy and have sought to cast aspersions about your character without any good reason as far as we can see”, and alluded to racist “colonial” undertones in some of the coverage.

“As women Members of Parliament from all backgrounds, we stand with you in saying it cannot be allowed to go unchallenged,” the letter read

The letter clearly hit a chord with the Duchess, as she phoned Ms Lynch on Wednesday morning to thank her.

“I got a phone call — it was Buckingham Palace asking me was I available to speak to the Duchess of Sussex,” Ms Lynch told ITV News.

“She was calling to thank myself and other women MPs for standing with her and sending the open letter to say we as women in public office absolutely understand what she is going through, although in very different public roles.

“We stand with her in solidarity to say that we shouldn’t be tearing down women in public life through the press or otherwise.

“She was pleased to have seen that letter.”

The letter came after the Duchess admitted the intense media scrutiny she felt during her pregnancy and as a new mother had been “really challenging”.

Last month the Duchess and her husband Prince Harry launched legal action against the Mail on Sunday newspaper for a breach of privacy after it published a handwritten letter sent to her father Thomas Markle shortly after the couple married in May 2018.

The Mail on Sunday has denied the accusation and said it would defend the case “vigorously”.


A new Game of Thrones prequel series has been announced for release in the US in 2020 by HBO Max.

The revelation came after the American subscription video on demand service from WarnerMedia Entertainment revealed a previous prequel featuring Naomi Watts had been dumped,

Called House Of The Dragon, the spin-off will focus on the House of Targaryen and was co-created by George RR Martin, whose books the original series is based on..

British actress Emilia Clarke starred in the fan-favourite role of Daenerys Targaryen in eight seasons of Game Of Thrones. Her latest project is a rom-com movie Last Christmas which will open in Brisbane on November 7. 

House Of The Dragon was announced at an event in Los Angeles, where further details about streaming service HBO Max were revealed.

House Of The Dragon’s reveal came hours after reports surfaced claiming a previously announced Game Of Thrones prequel, starring Australia actress Naomi Watts, had been cancelled after its pilot episode was poorly received by executives.

Executive producer Jane Goldman emailed cast members with the news, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Watts, Oscar-nominated for her roles in 2003 neo-noir film 21 Grams and 2012 disaster film The Impossible, was set to star in the show.

Game Of Thrones is widely considered one of the greatest TV series of all time and came to an end earlier this year after eight record-breaking seasons.

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