Mental Health and Wellbeing
$3.8 billion to begin implementation of the Mental Health Royal Commission recommendations. The package is vast, and includes:
- $144.4m in 2021-22 ($954m/4 yrs) to establish 22 adult and older person’s areas mental health services, with greater capacity to treat, care and support adults, and 24/7 operating model
- $5.9m in 2021-22 ($264m/4 yrs) to establish the first 20 (of 50–60) local mental health and wellbeing services, where people can access community-based mental health treatment, care and wellbeing supports delivered by a multidisciplinary team
- $173m for suicide prevention and response, including continuation of funding for 13 Hospital Outreach Post-Suicidal Engagement sites
- $22.9m in 2021-22 ($116m/4 yrs) to support the mental health and wellbeing of Aboriginal Victorians, including funding for ACCOs
- $22.5m in 2021-22 ($196m/4 yrs) for a new infant and children’s mental health and wellbeing system, and $266m/4 yrs for young people’s mental health.
The package also includes funding for a new mental health emergency response, expansion of forensic services, integrated care for people living with mental illness and drug and alcohol addictions, and to create a pipeline of workers into the mental health sector. The package will be funded by a new payroll tax levy on businesses with payroll of more than $10m.
Community health services
$76.1m in 2021-22 ($91m/4 yrs) to address demand for community-based health services. The package includes public dental services, cancer services and maternal child health. It will also include three new residential AOD treatment facilities, additional community-based counselling and expanded forensic services. In addition, funding will be provided to women’s health services for gender responsive healthcare, family violence prevention services, women’s mental health and sexual and reproductive health services.
Support for asylum seekers
$3.9m in 2021-22 to continue existing mental health supports to people seeking asylum who are ineligible for Medicare and income support. Also includes nurse and GP care, homelessness assistance, case coordination and emergency relief like food, medication and utilities.
Decriminalising public drunkenness
$9.5m in 2021-22 to establish the health-based response to public drunkenness, including funding for trial sites, health outreach teams, transport and sobering up shelters.
$9.6m in 2021-22 ($45.6m/4 yrs) to improve the health and wellbeing of 100,000 Victorians by intervening early and reducing preventable hospital admissions, reducing unintended harms and limiting unnecessary medical interventions.
Expanding emergency departments
$2.9m in 2021-22 ($5.8m/2 yrs) funding is provided to increase emergency department capacity at Maroondah Hospital, Casey Hospital, Northern Hospital, Werribee Mercy Hospital and Austin Hospital.
Public fertility care services
$11.2m in 2021-22 ($50.1m /3 yrs) to deliver public fertility care, including help for more parents to access IVF and a public sperm and egg bank.
Medically supervised injecting rooms
$18.7m in 2021-22 ($40.1m/2 yrs) continued funding for the North Richmond supervised injecting room, and funding to establish a second supervised injecting room in the City of Melbourne.
Sunbury and Cobaw Community Health Hub Expansion
$3m in 2021-22 to expand the community facilities and services at the Sunbury and Cobaw Community Health Hub.
Public health and local place-based delivery
$801m in 2021-22 ($823m/4 yrs) funding to continue the core public health response to COVID-19 and manage any further spread and outbreaks. Includes operation of local public health units, COVID-19 prevention activities, health promotion activities and specialised response capability to support Victorians living in public housing, disability accommodation and other high-risk settings.
The State Budget matches the promise of the final report of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System with significant funding. Funding has been provided to improve people’s access to community-based treatment and support, and deliver services for the vast ‘missing middle’; those people who were missing out.
The major reforms outlined in the Royal Commission and funded in this Budget will be funded by a Mental Health and Wellbeing Levy. The levy will apply to businesses with a payroll over $10 million. This levy appears to be designed fairly, and if equally well applied, it will raise the money required to fix our broken mental health system.
The focus on children and young people’s mental health, and the investment in mental health in schools, will help Victoria’s children and young people recover from the impacts of the pandemic and provide early intervention if they develop mental ill-health.
This Budget also signals a welcome shift to early intervention, including by investing in reducing unnecessary hospital admissions and medical interventions. Early intervention keeps people healthier, reduces the risk of complications and is economically sound.
VCOSS has long argued for Victoria to become a wellbeing economy, and adopt a wellbeing budgeting approach. We see positive signs in this Budget that this formal shift might occur soon. We look forward to working with the Victorian Government to identify how a wellbeing budget could help us measure social progress and track our recovery from COVID.
While the significant investments in community health, alcohol and drug treatment and women’s health services are very welcome, the bulk of the funding is for only one year. With demand on these services increasing, sustained investment is needed beyond 2021-22.
The second supervised injecting room in the City of Melbourne will save lives and help people struggling with drug addiction. It’s evidence based, smart policy. The North Richmond facility is the busiest supervised injecting room in Australia, so additional facilities are needed to take pressure off it, and reduce drug related harms for more Victorians.