Ryan calls for immediate mental health reform
02 December 2021
Member for Euroa and Deputy Nationals Leader Steph Ryan has again called on the government to back reforms to the mental health system that would legally recognise 4000 mental health professionals across the state.
Speaking in Parliament in response to the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) Report on the 2021-22 Budget Estimates, Ms Ryan echoed the concerns of the community as mental health services continue to be inaccessible in regional areas.
“The report’s statistics are startling; 17.1 per cent of rural Victorians who have been surveyed reported high or very high psychological distress rates and 33 per cent of individuals who accessed mental health services are in regional Victoria,” Ms Ryan said.
“We have a crisis facing our region, it’s devastating to hear the news that over the last six weeks there have been five suicides across Greater Shepparton and sadly these heartbreaking stories are becoming all too common.
“The government has rejected calls for funding for our amazing rural outreach worker who, like other mental health workers in our region, tells me that there is a complete shortage of trained professionals on the ground.”
Ms Ryan outlined the Victorian Nationals’ reforms that were previously blocked by the government despite their ability to rapidly change the mental health landscape.
“The Victorian Nationals’ plan would see counsellors recognised as mental health professionals, a move backed by the Australian Counselling Association,” Ms Ryan said.
“We have also urged the government to release provisionally trained psychologists to allow them to work immediately.
“These reforms would free up an additional 4000 people into the mental health workforce, particularly people who could work in our state schools.
“When psychologists in our region have lengthy waiting lists of several years, these reforms aren’t just sensible, they are urgent and potentially lifesaving.
“The last 20 months of lockdowns have turned a pre-existing problem into a crisis.
“Regional Victorians should not face such a struggle to access mental health services just because of where they live.”