SOUTH-WEST groups say meaningful investment is needed to fix the region's failing mental health system.
Groups welcomed the five-volume, 3000-page Royal Commission report handed down today, which found the state's mental health system operates in crisis mode, fails the people it's designed to support and requires a complete rebuild.
Premier Daniel Andrews told The Standard his government was committed to fixing the system which had failed and cost lives.
"The cost of failure is being paid by all of us," he said.
"Today's a very significant day; a couple of years ago during the election campaign we committed to have Australia's first and only Royal Commission into our mental health system.
"So obvious were the failures and the very clear deficiencies within that system that the only way to repair it, the only way to make it better, was to acknowledge those failures and then put in place a process to listen to those who know and understand those failures better than any one.
"Those with lived experience, those who use the system, their carers, their loved ones and of course those who work in that system."
The Standard put a number of questions to the Premier including the lack of youth mental health beds in the region, the desperately-needed social housing stock and access disparity between rural and metropolitan patients.
"It's too early for us to commit to our specific expansions in given parts of Victoria," Mr Andrews said. "But I think what your readers can take from the report, and from our response to it, is that there does need to be much, much clearer focus on young people, whether that be in school, dedicated youth mental health services and expansions of programs.
"We are going to have to have more specialist beds, and not just for youth but across many different groups within mental illness given the complexity of all those cohorts we're going to have to have more specialist services in regional Victoria.
"That makes difficult circumstances even harder impedes people being well. It's just not the system we should have in 2021, but it's probably a little early for us to commit to specific numbers of beds in given local areas, but you'll see a very significant investment or across the board that'll be clearly outlined in the budget in May."
It's just not the system we should have in 2021.- Premier Daniel Andrews
The creation of a new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act is one of dozens of recommendations to reform the broken system.
Here in the south-west people have been turned away from stretched and under-resourced mental health services and in extreme cases it's resulted in a man stabbing his brother and another stealing to get food.
Karyn Cook, former executive director of mental health services at South West Healthcare, spoke about the lack of community-based support for those living in rural areas in her submission.
"The further away from larger centres a consumer is, the less options they have for support in the community mental health and primary health sector," Ms Cook said.
"In short, it is more challenging for a rural person to have all their needs met."
South West Healthcare remains committed to acting on the recommendations, chief executive Craig Fraser said.
"The purpose of this royal commission is to provide the community with a clear and ambitious set of actions that will change Victoria's mental health system and enable Victorians to experience their best mental health now and into the future," Mr Fraser said.
"We particularly look forward to the recommendations related to improving the outcomes for rural people with mental health issues.
"Many, many people have shared their personal experiences during this process, and we ourselves have also provided a very detailed submission to assist the Commissioners in identifying and solving system-wide issues."
South West Coast MP Roma Britnell said the system is broken and has failed people who needed support.
"It highlighted that people in regional areas are often disadvantaged through lack of access to mental health care as are people from a low socioeconomic background. It also highlighted there is a lack of services and are critically underfunded," Ms Britnell said.
"This is not new, I hear these stories every single day in my office from people in our own community who the system has failed. There have been several reports published that have said the same thing, that have shown the system is broken and that people are falling through the cracks.
"I am pleased the royal commission has made several recommendations that focus on making changes to the system in regional Victoria and improving access to support services and increasing beds for adults and youth.
"The ball is now firmly in the court of the Andrews Government, they now must ensure what the report recommends is delivered and delivered equitably across the entire state.
"I commit to working to ensure South West Coast receives an equitable share and our local mental health workforce is supported to do their important and lifesaving work."
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