Bilateral agreement between Federal and Victorian governments unclear on how to tackle mental health workforce issues

Tuesday 12 April 2022

The Federal and Victorian governments have signed an agreement investing $247.9 million to help improve mental health and suicide prevention support and services for Victorians. The Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (ACMHN) welcomes the agreement but decries the lack of detail on how to strengthen the mental health workforce in the state, in particular mental health nurses.

The bilateral agreement primarily focuses on assisting the missing middle population – those too unwell for primary care, but not unwell enough for state-based services.

According to a press release by the Australian Government, the agreement also aims to “build and support the mental health and suicide prevention workforce to ensure people have access to the highest standards of care.

“The ACMHN welcomes any additional funding for mental health services, but it needs to be used strategically,” ACMHN Interim President Professor John Hurley said.

The funding breakdown includes extra spend on Head to Health clinics, community-based wellbeing hubs for infants, enhancing headspace services, universal aftercare support for consumers following a suicidal crisis, bereavement support, and some investment in improving perinatal mental health, better regional planning for mental health services, and a distress brief intervention trial program.

“Even though the press release says that there will be a focus on building and supporting the suicide prevention workforce, it lacks detail on how this will actually happen,” Professor Hurley said.

“We call on both governments to be specific about how they plan to bolster the workforce, and ensure that qualified mental health nurses, who understand both mental and physical ailments and are at the forefront of prevention and early intervention work, are part of their plan. They’re a key asset if governments want to seriously improve Australia’s suicide prevention services.

“The ACMHN is keen to work with governments on all levels to solve the mental health workforce crisis.”

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Australian College of Mental Health Nurses press release, mental health nursing, mental health policy Australia, mental health workforce Australia

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