Funding for mental health surpasses $1 billion in Victoria

November 12, 2020

The Victorian Government has announced another $868.6 million worth of funding for mental health in Victoria, with key activities to support the health system in delivering reforms identified in the Royal Commission Interim Report.

The VHA is particularly excited by the investment in mental health in the community, for young people and people from diverse backgrounds, and CEO Tom Symondson says the funding will provide vital support as the health sector works to fundamentally rebuild Victoria’s mental health system. The funding includes an extra 19,000 hours for community mental health support.

‘The billion dollars’ worth of investment in facilities, jobs and programs to support the health sector in delivering critical mental health services will help give every Victorian who needs access to mental health services the help they need, when and where they need it,’ Mr Symondson said.

‘This is a challenge which costs us much more than money, but the significant investment from the Victorian Government will help the sector make great inroads to transform the system to meet the needs of Victorians today and moving forward.’

The latest announcement includes $492 million to deliver 120 public mental health beds in Geelong, Epping, Sunshine and Melbourne. A partnership between public and private health sectors is receiving $18.9 million to deliver an additional 35 acute treatments beds for public mental health patients in private health services. This is an addition to the 24 Hospital in the Home beds announced earlier this year bringing the total to 179.

The statewide expansion of the Hospital Outreach Post-Suicidal Engagement (HOPE) service, identified as a key activity by the VHA, will receive $21.4 million to deliver individual, intensive and one-on-one support for Victorians as they rebuild their lives. Completion of the statewide rollout will deliver services in Albury-Wodonga, Bairnsdale, Ballarat, Broadmeadows, Box Hill, Clayton, Epping, Heidelberg, Mildura, Parkville, Shepparton and Warrnambool.

Learning from lived experiences remains vital to delivering the best possible outcomes for people living with a mental health illness. The VHA welcomes the delivery of the Victorian Collaborative Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing, a new centre dedicated to bringing together experts on our mental health system – researchers, academics and those who’ve experienced it firsthand.

A further $16 million will help those same Victorians use their own voices and experience to support and champion others in need – with new training positions, education and opportunities for employment. This includes $7.3 million for a service designed and delivered by people with lived experience.

The Budget also includes $8.7 million to establish a residential mental health service, specifically designed and delivered by those with lived experience. This service will deliver short-term care and support in a residential community setting with the aim of reducing critical demand pressures on acute hospital-based care.

Students and job seekers looking to pursue a career in the mental health sector will also benefit from additional funding including $1.9 million for allied health, nursing and medical undergraduates to work part-time in community mental health settings while completing their studies. A further $3.1 million will support experienced general nurses to retrain as mental health nurses; and $7.7 million for specialist training roles in child and adolescent psychiatry to address the shortage of trained psychiatrists in these roles, including in regional areas.

A further $7.7 million in funding is provided to begin to address workforce shortages in the mental health sector and support future expansion of the workforce. This includes funding to increase the annual number of junior medical officer psychiatrist rotations, graduate nurses and postgraduate mental health nurse scholarships.

State-owned facilities across Victoria will also benefit, with $20 million towards their upgrade.

Recognising that preventative care in the early stages of experiencing mental ill health is crucial, younger Victorians will be able to access early intervention support thanks to an additional $47.8 million – alongside $7 million to support critical research into youth mental health and operations at the Orygen centre.

Other key Budget investments include:

  • $19.4 million to support mental health clinicians at the Victorian Fixed Threat Assessment Centre and deliver specialised services to meet the needs of people referred by the Centre
  • $4.4 million to improve culturally appropriate support for Aboriginal Victorians
  • $3.9 million for providing mental health and wellbeing support for asylum seekers
  • $152 million to support and provide mental health services in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding mirrors many of the activities that the VHA encouraged in its submissions to the Royal Commission and other bodies.