Mental health report delayed due to COVID-19

February 18, 2021 BY

The Final Report pictured with chair, Penny Armytage, and commissioners Allan Fels, Alex Cockram and Bernadette McSherry hours before the delay was confirmed. Photo: SUPPLIED

THE final report from the Royal Commission into the state’s mental health system has been delayed due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

The report was due to be tabled in Parliament earlier this month but has now faces indefinite delays following the hotel quarantine outbreak.

In a press conferences Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews defended his decision by saying the recent case numbers would be a distraction.

“It is deserving of our absolute full attention and that’s why it will not be tabled,” he said.

Opposition spokeswoman for mental health, Emma Kealy, said the decision to delay the long-awaited report was “bitterly disappointing”.

“Competing headlines are more important to Labor than fixing their broken mental health system,” she said.

“More delays, more excuses and more neglect for Victorians who can’t get the help they need.”

The Royal Commission into Mental Health was called following the 2018 re-election of the Andrews Government.

Chief executive of Mental Health Victoria, Angus Clelland, said the mental health system “for far too long has been the poor cousin of the health system.”

“The Royal Commission into Family Violence has led to meaningful reform in that area. Mental Health Victoria hopes this will be replicated in the mental health system,” he said.

“We expect that a Royal Commission will expose the serious gaps in our ailing mental health system.”

The Royal Commission delivered an interim report in November 2019 which called the system “broken” in the 680-page response.

In the report it was confirmed over 100,000 Victorians failed to receive the specialist care required for their condition.

The 2019 interim report was considered in the 2020/21 Victorian Budget which included a $868 million dollar boost to go towards “fixing a broken system.”

Minister for mental health James Merlino said the budget supports a recovery plan for the state.

“This year’s budget supports the recovery of our state and the fundamental rebuild of our system, delivering new beds, more staff and dedicated early support for young Victorians,” he said.

The budget included further recommendations made in the interim report including $492 million to deliver 120 mental health beds between Geelong and Melbourne.

It is currently unknown when the final report will be made public.

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