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Historic mental health budget means more nurses and more access to treatment

Photo: Historic mental health budget means more nurses and more access to treatment
More Victorians will have access to treatment for drug and alcohol addiction and mental illness under the Andrews Government’s historic $705 million mental health budget.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch) has welcomed the far reaching initiatives announced in today’s state budget including extra regional rehabilitation facilities, new emergency department ‘crisis hubs’ for patients with urgent mental health, drug and alcohol issues and education opportunities and expansion of the mental health nursing workforce.

The Andrews Government will invest $100.5 million to create six emergency department ‘crisis hubs’ across the state, to be staffed with specialised nurses and have a safer environment to deal with patients presenting with serious mental health or addiction issues. The ‘crisis hubs’ will also give police confidence in knowing which hospitals to take affected people for expert care.
Mental Health Minister Martin Foley said the new hubs would be located at Monash Medical Centre, St Vincent’s Hospital, the Royal Melbourne Hospital, University Hospital in Geelong, Sunshine Hospital and Frankston Hospital.

ANMF (Vic Branch) Acting Secretary Paul Gilbert said ‘We congratulate the Andrews Government for listening to nurses’ concerns and responding with fundamental changes to the mental health model for the care of patients in the acute and recovery stages that will benefit the whole community.

‘The new crisis hubs will mean the patient is safer and so are the other emergency department patients, the nurses, the doctors, the security guards and the police,’ he said.

The Andrews Government is also investing in the mental health nursing workforce with $32.5 million for 31 supernumerary clinical liaison nurses to support less experienced nurses and doctors caring for vulnerable patients, 110 additional postgraduate mental health nursing positions and funding for 40 registered nurses to undertake education in mental health nursing.

As part of reforming clinical mental health services the Andrews Government will also provide $28.6 million for more intensive clinical nursing services in existing Prevention and Recovery Care Units (PARC) designed to reduce pressure in acute services. PARCs provide short-term residential care for people with a mental illness.

A further $11.9 million will be spent on building a new 20-bed residential facility for young people with a mental illness, focusing on early interventions and tailored support.

The reforms will also help more communities and families respond to the insidious scourge of addiction with an extra $40.6 million to fund construction of three new 30-bed residential treatment facilities in Barwon, Gippsland and Hume.

The Andrews Government has again announced a record budget for health with $2.1 billion for hospital upgrades and equipment, more elective surgery and increased workforce immunisation.

‘ANMF members will particularly welcome investment to upgrade Wonthaggi Hospital and Ballarat Base Hospital,’ Mr Gilbert said.

The Diploma of Nursing has also been recognised as one of the priority fee-free TAFE courses starting in 2019.

‘This will help young people in regional and metropolitan Victoria secure a qualification and a job in the growing health sector including private and public acute care and new public aged care facilities. We would also hope the private aged care sector recognises the value of enrolled nurses and makes decisions to recruit ENs instead of the string of redundancies we have recently seen,’ Mr Gilbert said.

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