John Mendoza, former adviser to Kevin Rudd on mental health.
John Mendoza, former adviser to Kevin Rudd on mental health. Nicholas Falconer

Rudd punished for ignoring advisers

KEVIN Rudd was dumped by his own colleagues because he failed to listen to them and treated his own staff poorly, one of his advisers said on the Sunshine Coast today.

John Mendoza, who resigned as chairman of the National Advisory Council on Mental Health last Friday, said he was looking forward to working with new Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

“It’s a fresh opportunity for the government to engage with a sector that’s trying to get a message through to it on mental health,’’ Mr Mendoza said.

He said Mr Rudd failed to listen to him, snubbed today’s summit at the University of the Sunshine Coast, and ignored a petition signed by 80,000 Australians calling for $500 million boost to mental health funding.

Mr Mendoza’s comments echo those by Australian of the Year Patrick McGorry who flew down to Canberra on Wednesday night to make a personal protest to Mr Rudd, only to find that he had been ousted as PM by the morning.

He said those fighting for a better deal for Australia’s mentally ill, including at risk youth, had been “buoyed by the change’’ in leadership.

Mr Mendoza said “you would not find anyone in the sector’ who had been happy with Mr Rudd’s ‘rubbish’ reforms on mental health, given the lack of funding.

Every day 330 Australians with serious mental illnesses are turned away from hospital emergency departments, and 1200 Australians are refused admission to a public or private psychiatric unit.

Prof McGorry is hoping the petition he has left with Canberra and the letter signed by 60 health organisations including the Australian Medical Association will now be taken up by Ms Gillard.

The letter was sent to Mr Rudd weeks ago but was not even acknowledged.

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