13 Dec 2017

Mental health inquiry must be independent - advocates

4:21 pm on 13 December 2017

Mental health advocates want the government to guarantee an independent inquiry into the country's mental health services.

Corinda Taylor presents a petition with 55,000 signatures to Chlöe Swarbrick on the steps of parliament

Corinda Taylor presents a petition with 55,000 signatures to Chlöe Swarbrick on the steps of parliament Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The Life Matters Suicide Trust has put the pressure on the Health Minister by delivering a 55,000 signature petition to Parliament today.

The new government has promised an inquiry, although Health Minister David Clark has not ruled out that it will be a ministerial inquiry.

Life Matters Suicide Trust spokesperson Corinda Taylor said the inquiry needed to be independent.

"We don't want a ministerial inquiry that may not give people immunity if they want to testify. We're talking about clinicians who may want to come forward, and if they don't have immunity, they may be scared of losing their jobs," she said.

Ms Taylor - who lost a son to suicide - said there needed to be a guarantee that those who have endured the impact of suicide would get their say as well.

She said she was worried a ministerial inquiry may not get to the bottom of the issue.

"It's normally a lot cheaper than a commissioner inquiry and typically shorter. We want an inquiry that's complete and will look into all the different aspects."

The Life Matters Suicide Trust met with Mr Clark yesterday and were hopeful he would listen to their appeal.

Today's petition was received by Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick, who said the problem had been a political hot potato for far too long.

"So I think it's really important to draw that distinction, that we do need political action, but it needs to be cross party political action," she said.

Ms Swarbrick said the Green Party was currently collaborating with the Health Minister to make sure the best outcome was achieved for New Zealanders.

She said the number of signatories was just the tip of the iceberg of the impact suicide was having on New Zealanders.

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