The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System final report is detailed, ambitious and significant. It’s a roadmap for a real, positive change.
And it puts people who have lived with mental illness at the centre of service design and delivery.
As the Royal Commission says:
“There is much cause for hope that this time, effective and lasting reform will be implemented. All partners in delivering profound change must rise to the challenge. The Commission’s inquiry is over; the time for decisive and deliberate action is now.”
Many of the recommendations are technical and complicated, and deal with system design, service delivery, governance and workforce challenges.
Social service bodies and community organisations will play a vital role getting the implementation right. We will bring you more analysis of these recommendations in coming days and weeks, as will other peak bodies and experts.
But on initial inspection, the principles underpinning the final report’s recommendations are strong, ambitious and a cause for genuine excitement.
Reorienting the mental health system to care in the community will keep people out of hospital, and make sure they have a choice about the type of care they need, when they need it, where they need it.
The report also puts welcome focus on the needs of children and young people, intervening early to prevent worsening illness that can change a child’s life trajectory.
A new agency will be established, led by people with lived experience of mental illness, to support the development of organisations and services that are led by and for people with lived experience of mental illness.
The report also recommends an overhaul of the way services are delivered in the community.
The new system (see diagram below) will be designed around eight regions. New regional governance structures, which will be known as Regional Mental Health and Wellbeing Boards, will be phased in over time.
Within these regions, new ways of commissioning and contracting will also be used to encourage more integrated and innovation.
50-60 new Adult and Older Adult Local Mental Health and Wellbeing Services will be created as a ‘broad front door’ so more people can access services in the community. They will deliver treatments, therapies and psychosocial supports. They will be delivered by a range of different services, and include comprehensive, coordinated multidisciplinary teams.
VCOSS looks forward to working with the Government to make sure these services build on the strengths and relationships of the community sector, including existing community managed mental health services.
22 Area Mental Health and Wellbeing Services will be delivered through a partnership between a public health service or hospital and a community organisation that provides psychosocial supports.
Area Mental Health and Wellbeing Services will operate with extended hours, and also respond to crisis calls from anyone in the community, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The six levels of the new system
New services will be developed for young people, infants and children, and community perinatal teams will support new parents. A new state-wide service for people living with mental illness and addictions will be established, as will Aboriginal healing centres.
The link between stable housing and good mental health was recognised. The report ensures that the 2000 houses for people with mental illness announced as part of the Big Housing Build will be delivered as supported housing.
Other important recommendations include:
- Carer-led centres will be established to support carers and families and respond to their needs
- Development of a Mental Health and Wellbeing Outcomes Framework to drive collective responsibility and accountability across government
- Addressing gender-based violence in mental health facilities
- Promotion of healthy workplaces and schools
- Expanding supports for young carers and children of parents with a mental illness
- A new Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission to guide implementation, maintain accountability, and address stigma around mental illness.
VCOSS looks forward to working with the Victorian Government and the community sector to implement the ambitious plan put forward in the report.
We will continue to update the community sector as we work through the detail.