Victorian Government shows leadership in mental health and suicide prevention

Posted 21st May 2021 in General Sector update

The Australian suicide prevention and mental health sector has supported yesterday’s 2021/22 Victorian State Budget announcement of a record $3.8 billion investment into mental health and wellbeing and suicide prevention. 

The State Budget directly responds to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System’s 10-year plan to transform the state’s mental health and wellbeing system. It also builds on the Federal Government’s announcement earlier this month of a $2.3 billion investment into mental health and suicide prevention in the 2021/22 budget.

Paving the way for major reform in the State, the Victorian Government’s announcement has delivered the biggest social reform in Victoria’s history.

Dr Jaelea Skehan OAM, Director of Everymind, says the investment in mental health and suicide prevention by the Victorian Government is significant and timely.

“The Budget builds on current suicide prevention and aftercare investments, commits to a state suicide prevention and response office, and includes new service models focused on children, young people, priority populations, caregivers and families.

“The focus now must be on implementation, ensuring clear roles and responsibilities for the Commonwealth and State Government, and engagement of people with lived experience to ensure the funds are spent in ways that matter most to people,” said Dr Skehan.

Some of the key focus areas of the budget announcement include: 

  • $173.3 million over four years to deliver new and expanded suicide prevention programs and services for children, young people and adults. The new Suicide Prevention and Response Office will facilitate a government and community-wide suicide prevention and response effort. 
  • Investing more than $1.5 billion in community‑based care, providing a ‘front door’ for those needing mental health support. The funding will help fast-track the expansion of services across Victoria, making it easier for people to get the help they need closer to home. 
  • $116 million to support the mental health and wellbeing of Aboriginal Victorians, including funding for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations for social and emotional wellbeing services for children and young people.
  • $7.5 million to establish Ambulance Victoria as the lead responder to triple zero calls primarily concerning mental illness or psychological distress. This ensures Victorians have access to a health professional when they’re experiencing a crisis and need emergency services support. 
  • $252 million to provide housing support, including targeted initiatives to address homelessness. This includes $46 million for mental health and wellbeing supports.
  • $954 million to establish 22 reformed area mental health and wellbeing services to replace existing services to respond to Victorians in need 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 
  • Funding for the first 20 of the 60 adult and older adult local mental health and wellbeing centres that were recommended by the Royal Commission.
  • 35 acute mental health beds specifically for Victorian women, with $310.8 million in acute care. 
  • $349.6 million to build 82 forensic mental health beds at Thomas Embling Hospital. This investment builds on the 179 additional beds delivered in last year’s Budget.
  • $6.4 million for Switchboard’s Rainbow Door to increase support for young LGBTIQ+ Victorians and additional support for young carers. 
  • $842 million in mental health and wellbeing support for children and young people, with one stream of support for children and infants and one for young adults.
  • $18 million to establish the Collaborative Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing. This will bring together people with lived experience, researchers and clinicians to develop and provide adult mental health services, conduct research and share knowledge, including working with services and research organisations in rural and regional areas.
  • $40.7 million to expand Victoria’s lived experience workforces to improve organisational readiness, increase cadetship positions, and improve educational and career pathways to build a pipeline of lived experience workers. 

For more information, including a summary of how each of the Budget’s key points meets with a recommendation from the Royal Commission Final Report, visit the Victorian Government's website below.