Victorians in the Geelong region will have better access to the mental health services they need with the expansion of the Andrews Labor Government’s Hospital Outreach Post-suicidal Engagement (HOPE) program.
Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley today announced that following a recommendation made by the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System and the HOPE initiative’s success, the Labor Government would soon be rolling it out right across the state, and securing its future in Geelong.
Mr Foley visited the Corio Community Health Centre in Geelong where he also announced the local HOPE initiative delivered by Barwon Health will now receive ongoing funding. This ensures the program will be funded well beyond the middle of next year – offering vital support to thousands more Victorians.
The recent interim report from the Royal Commission found too many Victorians needing help can’t find suitable support and people living with mental illness are waiting longer and getting sicker before they can access services.
Poor mental health costs Victoria $14.2 billion annually – but what you can’t put a price on are the lives lost, particularly in rural and regional areas where the Royal Commission found the annual suicide rate was about 40 per cent higher than it was for people Melbourne.
In addition to a new revenue mechanism to support these major reforms, the Royal Commission recommended:
- More acute beds, including more for Barwon Health
- Workforce development to address the workforce challenges that are even more pronounced in regional and rural Victoria. The recommendation includes additional graduate placements, scholarships, supporting international recruitment and adding Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work to the Free TAFE list
- The state-wide rollout of Aboriginal health and wellbeing teams.
The HOPE initiative provides support and follow up for people leaving hospital after a suicide attempt. Assertive outreach workers also work with families, friends and carers, to help their loved one during this critical time.
More than 1200 people have been assessed and supported through the initiative so far.
The Commission will hand down its final report in October 2020 and will hold further public hearings next year.