The Commonwealth will invest $247.9 million to help improve mental health and suicide prevention support and services for Victorians over the next five years, following the signing of a bilateral agreement between the Commonwealth and Victorian governments.
This agreement will have a particular focus on additional services for people in the missing middle – those who are too unwell for the general primary care system but not unwell enough to require inpatient hospital services or intensive state-based community care.
It will also build and support the mental health and suicide prevention workforce to ensure people have access to the highest standards of care. This will support improved mental health and suicide prevention outcomes for people across Victoria, ensuring they are guaranteed the essential services they need and deserve.
The agreement also cements a deeper partnership between the Commonwealth and Victorian governments in relation to the mental health and suicide prevention system, through greater data sharing and evaluation of services, closer integration of referral pathways, and working together on the regional planning and commissioning of services. This will mean a more efficient, seamless and person-centred system for Victorians.
The funding includes:
- $125.1 million to continue operation of the 14 existing Head to Health adult mental health clinics that were established during the COVID-19 pandemic, and ongoing funding to support Victoria’s first Head to Health centre in Geelong that opened in December 2021. This funding will also support Victoria’s new community-based mental health and wellbeing services for adults and older Australians.
- $22.3 million for three new community-based mental health and wellbeing hubs for infants, children and families to improve access to multidisciplinary team care for children.
- $45.4 million to enhance headspace services and establish two new headspace centres, to increase access to multidisciplinary youth mental health services in Victoria.
- $41.9 million to help establish universal aftercare services in Victoria to support people following a suicide attempt or suicidal crisis. Two expanded referral pathways trial sites will also be established to provide aftercare services for people who have experienced a suicidal crisis without being admitted to hospital.
- $5.0 million to ensure all people in Victoria who are bereaved or impacted by suicide can access postvention support services.
- $2.4 million to implement a Distress Brief Intervention Trial Program to prevent and reduce suicidal behaviour at two trial sites.
- $1.8 million to improve perinatal mental health.
- $4.0 million to strengthen regional planning and commissioning of mental health and suicide prevention services.
The Commonwealth’s funding forms part of the response to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health and the National Suicide Prevention Adviser’s final advice, and will also support the Victorian Government’s response to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, to which the Victorian Government has committed $3.8 billion to implement its recommendations.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said Victorians had faced enormous challenges in recent years.
“As a Victorian, I saw first-hand the effects of COVID-19 on my community and my state,” Minister Hunt said.
“As Australia and Victoria continue to reopen to the world, impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will be felt by some for years to come.”
“Today’s landmark announcement ensures everyone across Victoria will have access to additional mental health support, when and where they need it.”
“It will help to save lives and protect lives.”
Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, David Coleman, said a key focus of the bilateral agreement would be helping to reduce the suicide rate in Victorian communities.
“This partnership between the Commonwealth and Victoria will have a significant positive impact on the lives of many across the state, including Victorians at every age and stage of their lives,” Assistant Minister Coleman said.
“Importantly, it means every Victorian discharged from hospital following a suicide attempt will receive at least three months of appropriate follow up support. This group of people is amongst the most vulnerable in our community and through this agreement, we’re committing to do everything we can to support them.”
The bilateral agreement will form part of the new National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Agreement.
The National Agreement outlines actions to build a comprehensive, coordinated, consumer focused and compassionate mental health and suicide prevention system to support all Australians.
The National Agreement clarifies roles and responsibilities; progresses improvements in the mental health services available to adults, children and youth; improves data collection, sharing and evaluation; reduces gaps in the system of care; expands and enhances the workforce, including the peer workforce; and works to improve mental health and suicide prevention for all Australians, across a range of settings.
The Australian Government is delivering structural reform and real change in mental health and suicide prevention, and has invested almost $3 billion towards the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan since 2021-22.
This brings the estimated health portfolio expenditure in mental health and suicide prevention services and supports in 2022–23 to a record high of $6.8 billion.
Australians who need support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic can access the Beyond Blue Coronavirus Wellbeing Support Service any time via telephone at 1800 512 348 or online at coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au
Anyone experiencing distress can also seek immediate advice and support through Lifeline (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), or the Government’s digital mental health gateway, Head to Health.
If you are concerned about suicide, living with someone who is considering suicide, or bereaved by suicide, the Suicide Call Back Service is available at 1300 659 467 or www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au
Young Australians who need support can access free services through Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), their local headspace or online through eheadspace (https://headspace.org.au/eheadspace/).