Good health underpins everyone’s ability to live a good life. VCOSS is encouraged the 2016 Victorian Budget includes significant investment in regional Victoria, with more than $200m allocated over four years to enhance the quality and amenity of rural and regional health services, including community health services. Other positive announcements include more than $25m to trial suicide prevention services, $29.5m for the roll-out of real-time prescription monitoring, as well as additional funding for primary, community and dental services for refugee and asylum seeker arrivals.
VCOSS is pleased that the budget provides important mental health support for vulnerable children and young people, with $132m allocated to new mental health facilities and beds, the expansion of specialist child mental health services and specialist accommodation services for children and their families. Along with increased clinical services, it is equally important to support early intervention services and community managed mental health services that provide psychosocial rehabilitation and support, helping people with mental health issues stay well and able to work, study, care for their children and families and participate in community life.
Initiatives at a glance
- $200m over four for the Regional Health Infrastructure Fund
For investment in capital projects through public health services, including community health services. This will ensure that Victorians living in rural and regional areas have better access to public health services.
- $59m over three years for young people with a serious mental illness
For the rebuilding of the Orygen Youth Mental Health clinic, including its clinical program and Centre of Excellence, to provide critical services to young Victorians with serious mental illness.
- $57.3m over four years responding to vulnerable children families and trauma
To expand specialist clinical child mental health services, expand the Families where a Parent has a Mental Illness program and continue support for the Improved Housing Access program to help reduce the impact of violence, abuse and neglect on at-risk children and young people and their families.
- $52m over four years for clinical mental health services
This funding will provide new acute mental health beds, expand conduct disorder services for children and expand the Gender Dysmorphia program in response to growing demand.
- $29.5m over four years for real-time prescription monitoring
The new monitoring program can help identify when someone is developing a dependency through a centralised system accessible to doctors and pharmacists.
- $27.5m over four years for suicide prevention services
This will include trial models for personal support services, a community-wide model for suicide prevention, and design and test youth suicide prevention approaches.
- $14.5m over two years for the Early in Life Mental Health Service
To build a new mental health unit for children and young people up to 25 years, including inpatient beds, specialist care and community treatment at the new Monash Children’s Hospital.
- $10m in 2016-17 for the Better Care Victoria Innovation Fund
The fund will enhance access to hospitals and improve quality of care through innovation.
- $10m in 2016-17 in capital funding for mental health and alcohol and other drug facilities renewal
To support more therapeutic and safe environments in selected state-owned facilities.
- $10.9m over four years for primary, community and dental services for refugee and asylum seeker arrivals
To provide additional on-arrival health services for refugee and asylum seekers. This will help some of our most vulnerable community members to access vital health care quickly.
- $9.9m over two years for mental health support services for marginalised Victorians
To trial new treatment models to support people with a mental illness including Aboriginal, transgender and gender diverse people. This will ensure some of the most disadvantaged Victorians will have access to vital support services.
- $8.4m over four years for women’s mental health services
Funding for a new Women’s Prevention and Recovery Care short-stay facility. This will enable vulnerable women and their children in the north and west of Melbourne to access flexible and safe accommodation.
- $7.3m over four years for accommodation for children with trauma
To establish a new centre to house three independent living units to provide safe, flexible and responsive mental health services for children with significant trauma and social stress and their families.
- $6.6m over four years for women’s reproductive health
To provide additional access to a range of reproductive health services.
- $6m over three years in capital funding for an alcohol and drug residential rehabilitation service
To serve the Grampians region, with an 18-20 bed residential facility.
- $4m over four years to respond to the use of ice in Aboriginal communities
Targeted measures for Aboriginal and drug treatment providers to support Aboriginal people who have ice or other substance issues
Future policy directions
- The focus of this year’s health budget is very much on clinical services and capital projects. VCOSS highlights the importance of primary and community health services in providing equitable, affordable and timely access to health services. Health promotion and prevention, alongside early intervention, are the building blocks to ensuring health and wellbeing, minimising disease and the cost of treating illness.
- The welcome $29.5m announcement for the state-wide rollout of the prescription monitoring system will help reduce ongoing harm and save lives. In implementing this it is important to ensure a robust referral process and increased capacity in the Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) treatment system to respond to people referred through the monitoring system.
- Other areas for future policy consideration include population health planning and ensuring a culturally safe health system for Aboriginal people.
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