Sector Welcomes Historic Mental Health Royal Commission
25 October 2018 at 8:33 am
The announcement of a mental health royal commission by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, if re-elected next month, is a historic moment, a sector leader says.
Andrews made the announcement on Wednesday, while visiting a Men’s Shed in Kyneton, north-west of Melbourne.
He said in a post on Facebook that Victoria did not have the best mental health system it possibly could, and it needed to be fixed.
“We can’t honestly claim to be providing the right care to everyone who needs it, when they need it,” the post said.
Our mental health system isn't working. We have to admit it. And we have to fix it. That's exactly what we'll do. pic.twitter.com/ueQdZRlD0L
— Dan Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) October 24, 2018
Angus Clelland, CEO of Mental Health Victoria, spoke to Pro Bono News following Andrews’ announcement, and said MHV welcomed the news.
“For too long, [mental health] has been the poor cousin of the health system,” Clelland said.
“We expect that this announcement will be viewed as a watershed moment for mental health.”
He said although a royal commission would take time, it would secure long term change.
“It will take perhaps a year or more before the recommendations come out, but it will effectively bind future governments to investment in mental health,” he said.
Community mental health services provider, Wellways, also welcomed the announcement, and Andrews’ commitment to adopt the findings.
Wellways CEO Elizabeth Crowther said: “This is an important step for both people working in community mental health and the thousands of people we support.”
Crowther called on the Victorian opposition to match the commitment made by the Andrews government.
Shadow mental health minster Emma Kealy criticised the announcement, and said the combination of cuts to community mental health services, and a spike in population growth by half a million, had left everyone worse off.
“Daniel Andrews has lost control of population growth and now we have more people sharing less mental health services,” Kealy said.
“If he is serious about doing more for mental health, he will start by reversing his cuts and finding more funding to match the population growth that has occurred on his watch.”
But Clelland said both sides of politics in Victoria had historically underfunded mental health.
“It’s not a Labor issue or a Coalition issue, it’s been the issue of governments of all colours over the past 15 or 20 years, and there is a lot of catching up to do.”
As for population growth, he said it had led to some issues, but it was not the area to be focusing on.
The ABC reported the commission would cost $13.2 million, comparable to the cost of the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence.
Crowther outlined that the sector still needed a further $250 million over the next four years to close the gap in non-clinical community mental health services.
Clelland added that in the interim, whoever formed the next government should allocate additional funding to community mental health and suicide prevention before the findings were implemented.
“Mental health Victoria stands ready to work with the government on the establishment of the royal commission,” he said.