Auditor General lifts the lid on mental health crisis
22 March 2019
The Victorian Auditor General has slammed a lack of investment in the state’s mental health system, finding it is critically underfunded.
In a scathing report tabled in Parliament yesterday, the Auditor-General took aim at the Andrews Labor Government for failing to address the imbalance between the demand for and supply of mental health services in Victoria.
Euroa MP and The Nationals deputy leader Steph Ryan says the report confirms urgent action, including significant funding in next month’s State Budget, is required to help the 1.2 million Victorians who suffer from mental illness each year.
“We have a mental health crisis in regional Victoria and services are just not being funded to cope,” Ms Ryan said.
“I have heard heartbreaking stories from parents, partners and young people in our region who cannot access the help and support they need for either themselves or a loved one.
“The move to establish a royal commission into mental health is a good one, but it must not be used as an excuse to delay fixing gaps in the system which are already so well known.”
Ms Ryan said data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showed Victoria’s spending per person on mental health services was the lowest in Australia. Victoria also has one of the lowest number of mental health beds in the country.
“The difficulties experienced across the state are compounded in regional Victoria, where access to services is made even more difficult because we lack the workforce required to treat people, Ms Ryan said.
“In 2015, the Andrews Government released a 10-year plan which the Auditor General says has no clear targets or measures to monitor progress in improving access and no forward plan for the capital infrastructure needed.
“Perhaps most worryingly, he has found that Labor’s workforce strategy does to address the particular issues in rural and regional Victoria.
“I have raised these critical workforce shortages with the government many times in the past.
“I am urging the Andrews Government to act immediately to address these shortcomings, instead of waiting two years for the royal commission to hand down its recommendations.”
To read the Auditor-General’s report, visit https://www.audit.vic.gov.au/report/access-mental-health-services.