Health and wellbeing

The 2018 Victorian Budget contains significant funding for clinical mental health and drug and alcohol services. It will provide for more inpatient beds, residential rehabilitation facilities, improved emergency department responses and targeted suicide interventions.

While the welcome investment in clinical mental health is urgently needed, the future of community-managed mental health rehabilitation services remains uncertain. Victoria has redirected all its community-managed mental health service funding to the NDIS, however not all people in need of mental health services are eligible for NDIS services. The Victorian Government has a responsibility to provide ongoing funding to restore community-managed mental health rehabilitation services.

Regional Victorians have poorer health and face additional barriers to accessing healthcare compared to people living in Melbourne. VCOSS welcomes the budget’s investment in regional health and hospital upgrades, and additional funding for transport assistance to help improve accessibility for regional Victorians.


Positive initiatives

  • Increased clinical mental health services
    “Whilst funding to provide acute care to those who need it is always welcome, the failure to also invest in support, prevention and rehabilitation services such as those provided by community mental health means pressure will remain on our acute services, and in fact will likely increase as more services close.” Lyn Morgain, cohealthThe budget boosts the capacity of the clinical mental health system, and reforms existing services through:

– 89 new and existing acute mental health inpatient beds and an increase in clinical mental health treatment outside of hospital to help meet growing demand for approximately 12,800 people over four years.
$41m in 2018/19 ($232.5m/4 years)

– Six new emergency department mental health and alcohol and other drug crisis hubs, and six short stay units to support people facing mental health or addiction issues. New funding has also been provided for high-care packages and a treatment facility for people with complex needs. The post-suicide engagement program which reduces instances of suicide among people released from hospital has also been expanded to six new sites.
$40.1m in 2018/19 ($344.8m/4 years)


  • Alcohol and drug residential rehabilitation facilities
    Three new residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation services will be provided in the regional Barwon, Gippsland and Hume areas.
    $40.6m capital funding


  • Youth Prevention and Recovery Care Service“The budget allocations this year continue to build a solid foundation and the alcohol and drug sectors’ capacity to meet community demand for treatment services.” Sam Biondo, Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association
    A new 20-bed residential facility will be built to provide prevention and recovery care for young people in Melbourne’s north-west.
    $2.5m in 2018-19 ($11.9/3 years)


  • Perinatal depression services
    Ongoing funding for the prevention and early detection of perinatal depression in expecting and new mothers.
    $1.6m in 2018-19 ($6.4m/4 years)


  • End of life and palliative care
    The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 will be implemented through the establishment and operation of a Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board and preparation for the delivery of voluntary assisted dying in partnership with health practitioners and health services.
    $2.4m in 2018-19 ($6.5m/4 years)


  • Hospital infrastructure
    “Further investment is needed not only in bricks and mortar but in services delivered in the community to prevent people getting into crisis. These services are inexpensive and are proven to reduce hospital admission rates.” - Damian Ferrie, Mental Health Victoria

Upgrades for hospital facilities, technology and infrastructure, including:

– Expansion and redevelopment of the Ballarat Base Hospital to include a new emergency department and intensive care unit.
$74m capital funding

– Expansion of Wonthaggi Hospital to include new inpatient beds and operating theatres.
$80m capital funding

– Boost to the Regional Health Infrastructure Fund to help improve rural and regional health centres, aged care centres, bush nursing hospitals, women’s health services, Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and palliative care services.
$50m capital funding

– Building Victoria’s first heart hospital, to provide cardiac care to people with heart disease.
$396m capital funding

– Rolling out electronic medical records across the Royal Melbourne, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Royal Women’s Hospital to enhance patient safety and reduce medical errors.
$123.8m capital funding

  • Victorian Patient Transport Assistance Scheme
    Additional travel and accommodation subsidies for rural and regional Victorians who must travel long distances to receive specialist medical care.
    $2.1m in 2018-19


  • Supporting the health of LGBTI Victorians
    Improving the capability of health services to support trans and gender diverse Victorians by placing two specialists at a metropolitan and regional location. Also includes funding for skill development and training for healthcare professionals and a peer support program for LGBTI people.
    $1.7m in 2018-19 ($3.4m/4 years)


Future policy directions

Invest in community-managed mental health services
Community-managed mental health rehabilitation forms an important pillar of a balanced mental health system, alongside clinical treatment. While the budget contains additional funding for clinical mental health teams in the community, there remains a gap in community managed mental health rehabilitation services, especially for people not eligible for the NDIS.


Invest in preventative health
This budget contains little new funding for preventive health. Long-term investment in preventive health can improve current and future generation Victorians’ wellbeing and quality of life, by reducing chronic disease and addressing health inequities.


Reduce public dental waiting times
More funding for Victoria’s public dental programs can break the cycle of poor oral health and associated issues for people living on low incomes.

Return to analysis
View VCOSS media release