The south-west's mental health services need to grow, a Royal Commission has been told.
Former Warrnambool psychiatric nurse Paul Healey, who is now the assistant state secretary of the Health and Community Services Union, highlighted inconsistencies facing regional and rural Victorians to the mental health inquiry.
"It's not fair your mental health treatment is based on your postcode," he said.
"Right now, where I'm standing in Melbourne there's three services within a 30-minute walk I could go to. In the country you could walk all day and never see one."
Victoria had the lowest funded mental health services in Australia, he said.
"When Brierly (psychiatric hospital) was opened, Warrnambool had 200 beds dedicated to mental health, currently the town has 15 adult bed and five for aged care. In that time the town has doubled in population and there's been a growth across the whole region. You'd expect the community services to expand as the population does but they haven't.
"There should be community based services as towns get bigger and there should be satellite beds - even in country hospitals in small towns like Timboon.
"We have to build on the existing funding, build on the expertise out there and ensure we link with communities." He said the union called for greater numbers of mental health workers and regional incentives.
"We're advocating government funding for an additional 580 graduate positions for five years to build the state's number to 720 mental health nurses to cover the current shortfall and build on extra capacity."
He said Warrnambool's staffing levels would be challenged in coming years.
"There's currently 460 nursing in mental health vacancies (across the state). Warrnambool has an ageing workforce with the potential to lose a third of its workforce in the next five years," he said.
"We need improved staffing and greater funding because we know a better system has better outcomes."
The submission comes as new statistics released this week revealed Warrnambool's male suicide rate was almost double the state rate.
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