State Budget’s mental health spend praised

June 1, 2021 BY

Orygen executive director Professor Patrick McGorry said the budget was “once in a generation reform” for Victoria’s mental health sector. Photo: ORYGEN

Advocacy groups have praised the Labor Government’s pledge to spend $3.8 billion over four years to “rebuild the mental health system from the ground up”.

The 2021-22 State Budget, released last week, earmarks the funding for a range of initiatives across Victoria.

These include:

  • $266 million to reform and expand 13 youth area mental health and wellbeing services across Victoria and to support organisations providing mental health care to young people
  • $141 million for 10 beds in each of five new Youth Prevention and Recovery Care (YPARC) units, including one in the Barwon South West region
  • $16 million for the expansion of existing Mobile Targeted Assertive Outreach teams to provide support to young people with multiple and complex needs
  • $16 million to establish four new Hospital Outreach Post-suicidal Engagement (HOPE) sites specifically designed for young people
  • $21 million to support the mental health of trans and gender-diverse young people, and
  • $200 million for a new schools’ mental health fund.

The measures will be funded by a new mental health and wellbeing levy.

Recommended by the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System and to start in 2022, the levy will impose a 0.5 per cent payroll tax on wages paid in Victoria by businesses with national payrolls over $10 million a year and 1 per cent on businesses with national payrolls over $100 million.

Orygen executive director Professor Patrick McGorry said the budget was “once in a generation reform”.

“Not only is the mental wellbeing of the state’s young people at the heart of this budget, but the $3.8 billion mental health package as a whole is hugely significant for all Victorians,” he said.

“Orygen looks forward to seeing the government follow through on this commitment to fix what it has repeatedly acknowledged as a broken system.”

Mental Health Victoria (MHV), the independent peak body for mental health, welcomed the $3.8 billion commitment.

MHV chief executive officer Angus Clelland said the funding was the single biggest investment in mental health of any government ever in Australia, and was $1.5 billion more than the Coalition’s record $2.3 billion spend on mental health in the Federal Budget.

“Today’s budget represents the culmination of more than two decades of advocacy efforts from individuals, carers, families, peak bodies, and mental health professionals from across  Victoria.”

Victoria’s three leading community managed mental health providers – Mind Australia, Neami National and Wellways Australia – are also praising the budget.

Wellways Australia chief executive officer Laura Collister commended Labor for delivering a budget that responded to the voices of lived experience.

“To have the Victorian Government’s commitment to implementing all 65 recommendations from the Royal Commission reinforced in the Budget papers provides much-needed clarity
for the community managed mental health sector.”

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