Victoria commits $3.8 billion to mental health and suicide prevention funding

Mental health advocates say the Victorian Government’s announcement to set up a Suicide Prevention and Response Office is welcome news and is a positive sign in the wake of the impending national agreement with states and territories scheduled for November this year.

Yesterday, the Victorian Government revealed their 21/22 budget outline, revealing a record $3.8 billion investment in the state’s mental health sector, and promising to put lived experience at the heart of the system.

“For too long we haven’t listened to those who know our system best. Victorians with lived experience offer a unique – and personal – insight into what works and what doesn’t,” Acting Premier and Minister for Mental Health James Merlino said.

“With this Budget, we’ll make sure Victorians with lived experience are at the heart of building a new mental health system from the ground up.”

Suicide Prevention Australia Acting CEO, Simon Pont says it is very encouraging to see that now both the Federal and Victorian governments have committed to Suicide Prevention Offices.

“Suicide Prevention Australia has called for a whole of government approach to suicide prevention in every jurisdiction and a coordinating office is a key part of achieving that. We look forward to seeing further details on the scope and role of the new Victorian Suicide Prevention and Response Office.

“Overall, the $173 million investment over four years for suicide prevention in the Victorian Budget will pave the way for saving lives.

“The funds will continue to support 9 adult Hospital Outreach Post-suicidal Engagement (HOPE) sites, and four new sites for youth across Victoria.

“The additional investment in aftercare services like HOPE to support people who have survived a suicide attempt will make a difference.

“About 65,000 people attempt suicide each year. A person surviving a suicide attempt is at heightened risk of a future attempt, especially in the first six months.

“The $266.1 million investment over four years to support more mental health treatment, care and support to young people through Youth Area Mental Health and Wellbeing Services is welcome.

“This initiative will support organisations providing mental health care to young people. This will deliver more hours of care for young people, including extended and after-hours support.

“We welcome the $116 million to support the mental health and wellbeing of Aboriginal Victorians, including funding for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations.

“$252 million to provide housing support, including targeted initiatives to address homelessness is a positive step. This includes $46 million for mental health and wellbeing supports.

“Research shows that people experiencing homelessness have higher rates of suicidal ideation and suicide than the general population. Groups particularly at risk of wellbeing impacts of homelessness are young people, Veterans and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“It’s heartbreaking to know that over 3,000 people die by suicide each year and we can never underestimate the impact that every life lost to suicide has on family, friends, workplaces and the broader community.”

Funding will also be provided to Switchboard to deliver LGBTIQ+ peer-led support, and the Healthy Equal Youth project increasing support for young LGBTIQ+ Victorians.

Leigh Andrew Hill

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