Constituency Question- Mental Health
FREGON (Mount Waverley) (12:51:02): (778) My constituency question is to the Minister for Mental Health, and I ask: how is the Andrews government supporting people in my electorate who live with acute mental illness? I have been contacted by a family in Mount Waverley who are very familiar with our local mental health system. A young woman from this family requires ongoing support and care from our acute mental health system, and this includes ongoing visits to Box Hill Hospital and Upton House. Over several months I have spoken to the grandmother and mother, and I know they will be very interested in the work this government is doing to support those in our community who require these services. I would also like to remind people that submissions to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System are still open. I encourage all of my constituents and everyone here that has come into contact with our mental health system to please allow their stories to be heard.
Minister’s Answer: The Andrews Labor Government supports integrated service delivery, ensuring high quality mental health services for residents of all ages within the eastern suburbs of Melbourne.
Eastern Health offer a broad range of clinical mental health services, which include 254 inpatient beds, community teams, alcohol and other drug services and state-wide specialty services for people with a borderline personality disorder. In 2018-19 Eastern Health received over $116 million in mental health specific funding. They provide services for the Local Government Areas of Maroondah, Knox, Yarra Ranges, Manningham, Whitehorse and Monash.
In the Victorian Budget 2018-19, the Andrews Labor Government invested a record $705 million in mental health support. The Victorian Budget 2019-20 invests a further $173 million to ensure Victorians with mental illness get better treatment and care, closer to home. This funding supports suicide prevention initiatives including the Hospital Outreach Post-Suicidal Engagement (HOPE) service located at Maroondah Hospital and the place-based suicide prevention trials co-funded with the Commonwealth government.
The Government is also developing six integrated mental health and alcohol and other drug (AOD) emergency department “crisis hubs” including at Monash Medical Centre Clayton. These hubs will provide a new therapeutic model for people presenting in mental health crisis, or with alcohol and other drug issues.
Eastern Health has also received $6.3 million for a new women’s acute mental health inpatient unit. This will provide an additional 9 beds for the Eastern Region and is anticipated to open in early 2020.
Despite these significant investments, the Andrew’s Labor Government acknowledges that the mental health system in Victoria needs to be significantly reformed. The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System represents a once in a generation opportunity to find out what parts of Victoria’s mental health system are working and what parts are not.
The Royal Commission will identify gaps in prevention, access and support for people with lived experience of mental illness, family members and carers. From this, we will know what needs to be done to improve the system and achieve better outcomes. The Victorian Government has committed to implementing all the recommendations of the Royal Commission.
Meaningful and lasting changes to Victoria’s mental health system and improvements to mental health outcomes can only happen by listening and respecting the views of Victorian communities. The Royal Commission is committed to hearing from as many different people as possible and are providing multiple ways for people to share their experiences and make contributions.
The Royal Commission ran more than 60 community consultation sessions during April and May in over 20 locations, including rural, regional and metropolitan areas. Over 1,600 people participated in the sessions. The Royal Commission heard about the need for enhanced integration of services, better suicide prevention support and better access to services for children and young people.
Public hearings took place across July 2019 as an important part of the activities the Royal Commission, which allowed them to gather evidence about Victoria’s mental health system. These hearings will inform the Royal Commission’s deliberations leading up to the production of the interim report in November 2019. Witnesses included consumers and carers, service providers and their workforce, experts and government representatives. The Royal Commission values and respects the contribution that people living with mental illness provide and as such a significant proportion of the hearings will be dedicated to listening to them and hearing about their experiences.
There are a range of ways people can participate in the Royal Commission. Information on how the Royal Commission is being conducted, including how the community can contribute to the inquiry’s work, is available on the Royal Commission website https://rcvmhs.vic.gov.au/.
I thank the Member for Mount Waverley for his advocacy on this issue and I look forward to hearing more from his community about how the Andrews Labor Government can ensure that every Victorian has access to the right mental health and alcohol and other drug treatments, in the right place, at the right time.
-Martin Foley MP, Minister for Mental Health