Long road ahead to rebuild Victoria’s public health system

May 20, 2021

With the mental health of Victorians a top priority for the Victorian Budget 2021-22, the Victorian Healthcare Association (VHA) has welcomed the $3.8 billion investment into mental health.

The VHA, which represents Victoria’s public hospitals and community health services, has worked closely with its members to understand the significant needs of the mental health sector and looks forward to engaging with the Government to support the delivery of these much-needed reforms.

VHA Chief Executive Officer Tom Symondson said this is the first step on a long road to reform.

‘In a Budget focused on the recovery of the health system from this pandemic, and rebuilding a broken mental health system, the Government has made a great start at addressing the recommendations of the Royal Commission, including funding 3000 new jobs.’

‘The record investment in mental health will be welcomed across the sector, however it is critical that everyone remembers the magnitude of the challenge we face,’ he said.

‘This issue touches every single Victorian and involves every part of the Victorian health system. In addition to this substantial investment, it is vital that we bring together state and commonwealth governments and the whole health system to deliver on the promise of the Royal Commission. That journey starts today.’

The Budget includes $1.3 billion to continue Victoria’s public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a welcome focus on vaccine rollout, place-based delivery and capability to support vulnerable Victorians.

The VHA also noted the Budget’s wider investment in community health, including $91 million for community-based health services to deliver catch-up care in areas such as dental for the many Victorians who deferred treatment during the pandemic.

The investment in acute health services to reduce emergency department wait times and ambulance ramping is welcomed. However, the VHA believes this needs to be balanced with greater investments in community health, prevention and primary health, as well as rural healthcare delivery.

‘The VHA welcomes this year’s Budget, but there is a long road ahead to address systemic issues that have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.’