Victorian State Budget 2015/16 - VICSERV Statement

May 2015

 

Disappointing Budget for mental health, despite recognition of pressures and demands on mental health services

The Andrew's Government's first budget took important steps in addressing the needs of families and vulnerable Victorians. VICSERV welcomed the recognition in the Budget papers that the mental health sector is under serious pressure, and the small, but significant, measures to address issues facing mental health services, consumers and their families.

'In a budget expected to be primarily about the Government's election commitments and key transport and infrastructure issues, the needs of many of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in our community have featured.' said Kim Koop, VICSERV CEO. 'Alongside strong commitment to addressing family violence, education, jobs and health, we are pleased to see that mental health was identified as an area of high need.'

'The Government's response at this stage is small, but significant, and we look forward to working with the Minister and DHHS to building on these initial steps.'

'While we wait for decisions about the implementation of the NDIS, people and services in Barwon are still doing it tough under the trial, and there are a number of matters in the state funded system that need to be resolved. Action on the 10 Year Mental Health Plan is now imperative.'

The Government has allocated an extra $117.8 million to mental health over the next four years. However, the significant majority of this funding is directed to clinical mental health services to 'respond to growing patient demand across Victoria with a focus on appropriate community-based care.'

The funding allocation includes:

  • $88.2 m to meet demand in clinical mental health services across the catchment areas. This funding has been allocated for intensive and specialist support for adults and older people;
  • $4.4 for high risk youth with eating disorders;
  • $5.9 m to support rights, mental health and well being of LGBTI;
  • $5 m to support the social inclusion of people with mental illness, by reinstating funding to St Mary's House of Welcome, Jesuit Social Services and Prahran Mission.

The budget also allocates $8.3 m to support the implementation of the NDIS trial in Barwon, which contributes to the Victorian commitment under the COAG agreement.

Under its strategy to improve justice services the Government has also allocated $12.7m to the Assessment and Referral Court (ARC) List to support people with mental illness and cognitive impairment issues in dealing with the justice system.

Importantly for services and staff in the community sector, the State Government announced $935 million in Equal Pay funding over the forward estimates, and a continuation of the level of program indexation from the past three year funding and service agreements. This means that program funding will keep up with inflation and that the State Government is funding its component of the December equal pay increases.

More detail on the 2015-16 Budget is available from the Department of Treasury and Finance state budget overview.

For a full analysis of the Budget, visit the VCOSS website.