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Labor must not delay immediate change for better mental health outcomes

Evidence to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System has confirmed what multiple reports have been telling us – Victoria’s mental health system is buckling under the pressure of high demand and no action to address the growing need.

It’s clear the system is in crisis when services are forced to prioritise clients based on if they are deemed “sick enough or suicidal enough”, as the Royal Commission heard yesterday.

Victoria’s mental health system is broken and the Andrews Labor Government shouldn’t use the Royal Commission as an excuse to fail to take action now that could save the lives of countless Victorians.

Despite numerous plans and reports, including two from the Victorian Auditor-General this year, that identify changes that can be implemented immediately to improve Victorians mental health outcomes, the Andrews Labor Government hasn’t lifted a finger to improve the system in the last five years.

The Auditor-General also found in March that current State funding only provides mental health services to less than half of Victorians who suffer a severe mental illness, while Victoria has the lowest per capita recurrent spend on specialised mental health services in the nation.

While we do need to see the cohesive, systemic change that will come from the Royal Commission, we can’t afford to wait for the final report in late 2020 to make the changes that can – and should – be made now.

But instead, in recent years Labor has cut funding to community mental health.

Labor must immediately provide crisis funding into Victoria’s broken mental health system, because waiting another year for the Royal Commission report will be too late for some Victorians, and that is simply not good enough.

Emma Kealy MP

Shadow Minister for Mental Health

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