Health and wellbeing
VCOSS welcomes investment in the 2017 Victorian Budget that will provide mental health and alcohol and other drug services to Aboriginal Victorians. These initiatives, including new mental health and alcohol and other drug worker positions, and the development of an Aboriginal Mental Health Workforce Training Program, will be developed and delivered in collaboration with the Aboriginal community. This investment will help support healthy, culturally strong and resilient Aboriginal communities and help to reduce health inequities.
There is also significantly increased funding for people with alcohol and other drug issues. Funding will increase people’s early access to alcohol and other drug services, and expand treatment support for people at risk of overdose. Thirty new residential rehabilitation beds and enhanced counselling and treatment services have also been funded. The trial of the Broadmeadows Family Drug Treatment Court has been extended for 12 months. Combined, these investments will help people address their alcohol and/or other drug abuse issues, regain control of their lives and subsequently reduce hospital, violence and welfare costs.
Funding was also provided for clinical inpatient, community and weekend mental health care. However while the joint Victorian and Commonwealth investment in clinical mental health services is welcome, community-based mental health services remain unfunded.
Key budget initiatives
Aboriginal mental health
Ten positions will be provided in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations to provide primary response to Aboriginal Victorians. An Aboriginal Mental Health Workforce Training Program will also be established.
Cost: $2.7m in 2017-18 ($8.4m over four years)
Aboriginal alcohol and other drug treatment
An additional 34 Aboriginal alcohol and other drug worker positions will be created in collaboration with the Aboriginal community.
Cost: $2.5m in 2017-18 ($14.2m over four years)
Regional mental health services
Victorians living in rural and regional areas will have greater access to mental health services through:
- A new mental health facility in Ballarat to provide services to people with acute mental health illnesses in the Grampians region.
Cost: $1.6m in 2017-18 ($6m over four years)
- Purchase of three new sites for drug rehabilitation services in the Gippsland, Hume and Barwon regions.
Cost: $9.7m in 2017-18
- Grants to upgrade mental health and alcohol and drug facilities across regional areas.
Cost: $2.8m in 2017-18
Access to alcohol and other drug services
People with alcohol and other drug issues will have greater access to services, with increased funding announced for:
- Earlier access to services
- Expanded treatment support for people at risk of overdose
- 30 new residential rehabilitation beds
- Increased counselling and treatment services for parents under new family reunification requirements
- 960 places for people to receive treatment under their Community Corrections Orders
- 12-month extension of the Family Drug Treatment Court in Broadmeadows
- Upgraded data collection systemCost: $16.1m in 2017-18 ($39.6m over four years)
Clinical mental health services
Clients of mental health services will have access to almost 580 additional inpatient services and around 75,000 hours of community care. Continuity of care will also improve with increased funding provided for medical and allied staff in acute clinical settings over weekends.
Cost: $49.1m in 2017-18 ($210m over four years) (these figures include Commonwealth funding under the National Health Reform Agreement).
Cancer screening and prevention
Victorians will have increased access to screening and detection of preventable cancers.
Cost: $3.7m in 2017-18 ($12.9m over four years)
Support for travel to access specialised care
Increased funding has been provided to the Victorian Patient Transport Assistance Scheme to provide people living in rural and regional Victoria with subsidised travel and accommodation.
Cost: $2m in 2017-18
VCOSS future policy directions
Invest in community mental health
With changes to the funding arrangements to community-based mental health rehabilitation services, VCOSS and its members have expressed concern that people with mental health illnesses are at risk of falling through the cracks. Victoria’s community-based mental health services need to be funded independently of the NDIS alongside clinical and acute mental health treatment services.
Capital investment in Aboriginal healthcare
To help support this year’s investments in Aboriginal mental health and alcohol and other drug services, the government can provide capital investments in community health and Aboriginal controlled health services to help meet demand and provide additional services.
Health prevention and promotion
With chronic disease contributing to illness, disability and early death, and with disadvantaged communities facing higher risks of poor health and chronic disease, VCOSS urges the government to invest in preventative health programs in the future. This should include investing in public dental health services.
- Significant mental health wins, but will it be enough to bridge the gap? – VICSERV
- Multiple AOD initiatives welcomed – Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association
- State budget 2017 sees welcome investment in mental health – cohealth
- Victorian State Budget – a mixed bag for Aboriginal communities – Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Inc.
- Victorian Budget 2017-18 – Mental Health Crisis Begins Remission – Tandem Carers
- Victorian Budget 2017-18: Examining the details – The Salvation Army