29 April 2024

Mental Health Australia chair quits, takes parting shot at Albo: 'the Labor government hasn’t committed to mental health'

| Chris Johnson
Join the conversation
portrait of man dressed casually

Former chair of Mental Health Australia Mark Berriman: “I don’t think over the last 20 years mental health has been addressed in this country.” Photo: Straight 6.

The chair of Mental Health Australia, Matt Berriman, has quit the job and had a dig at Anthony Albanese on his way out.

The high-profile businessman and former professional cricketer resigned from the peak body’s top job last week, having only been reappointed late last year for another two-year term.

He first took up the role in December 2021.

His resignation came with a barb – that the Federal Government was not doing enough to address Australia’s mental health crisis.

The Victorian made particular mention of the Prime Minister, saying he had never been invited to meet with him during his time as board chair.

He said during a media appearance, “My view is the Labor government hasn’t committed to mental health.

“Leadership starts at the very top and we’ve always said it’s an all-government approach. It’s not just a health portfolio approach.”

Mr Berriman said the mental health sector was woefully funded, and the money the government did allocate was not being spent effectively.

READ ALSO Morrison sought help from a Canberra doctor for anxiety medication while PM

He said while tens of billions of dollars are spent on Defence and the NDIS, mental health was not given priority despite millions of Australians suffering mental health issues.

He said that as a business person, the maths didn’t add up.

“I don’t think over the last 20 years mental health has been addressed in this country, and the Labor government promised that was going to happen, and it hasn’t,” he said.

Mental Health Australia – a non-government representative body – issued a statement to announce “with sadness” that Mr Berriman had resigned as board chair effective immediately.

Chief executive officer Carolyn Nikoloski said that during Mr Berriman’s three-year tenure guiding the Mental Health Australia Board, he had brought the importance of lived experience to the forefront of the organisation.

“His passion and motivation for amplifying the voices of people with lived experience and their family, carers and supporters have been an asset to Mental Health Australia’s advocacy efforts, and his unrelenting drive has helped put the issue of mental health reform on the agenda of our country’s decision-makers,” Ms Nikoloski said.

“We thank Mr Berriman for all his valued work with Mental Health Australia and wish him the best for the future.”

The statement noted that Mr Berriman was leaving to pursue his strong individual advocacy work at the national level.

He added his own comments to the announcement.

“I have put all of my efforts into advocating for people with lived experience of mental ill-health for the past few years in my role as chair of the Mental Health Australia Board, and am incredibly proud of what I have achieved so far,” Mr Berriman said.

“Unfortunately, the time has come to step down so I can refocus my advocacy work in the lead-up to the federal election in 2025.

“Now is the time to speak up loudly, so collectively, we can all make as big of an impact as possible for the community to get results.”

READ ALSO Pezzullo breaks his silence and says he didn’t have to be sacked

Those comments, and warnings that both major parties might lose votes on the issue at the next election have given rise to speculation that Mr Berriman might be preparing a tilt at politics.

However, he also praised both Health Minister Mark Butler and Shadow Health Minister Anne Rushton.

He said both cared about mental health issues.

Mr Butler thanked Mr Berriman and acknowledged his “deep commitment” to advocating for those with lived experience.

The Health Minister defended the government’s work in mental health but acknowledged that reform wouldn’t happen overnight.

Senator Rushton said it was “absolutely disgraceful” that the government had ignored mental health to such a degree that the chair of the peak body felt the need to resign.

Mental Health Australia’s statement said further information about the new chair of the board will be announced shortly.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Labor are actively destroying this country. Destroying the fabric of this society. September 2025 can’t come soon enough.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.