VOX POP: What are your hopes for what the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System will achieve?

Kellie Horton
Executive Lead, Policy Development Office
VicHealth

VicHealth would like to see the Royal Commission have a strong focus on primary prevention and health promotion, because we know this has the potential to make a huge difference for the many people who experience avoidable mental ill-health. We’d like to see a commitment to prevention and promotion embedded into State Government policy, with support via funding, leadership and coordination, along with an extended and strengthened workforce.

We know that promoting mental wellbeing is a shared responsibility. Health promotion can bring together seemingly disparate parties to create shared solutions. Like the diversity of health promotion settings, partners can come from many sectors, including all levels of government, non-government organisations, health, sport, research, media, education and more.

Another key focus of our submission to the Royal Commission will be the need for investment in the early years to promote mental wellbeing and prevent mental illness, because we know this is crucial to creating societies that are healthier, more inclusive and more equitable.

VicHealth believes that with these actions Victoria can make great strides in stopping mental illness before it occurs, so that everyone is empowered to live a fulfilling and purposeful life.

 

Angus Clelland
CEO Mental Health Victoria

After so many years of neglect, the tide is turning on mental health. The Victorian Government has shown great leadership in committing to a Royal Commission, and the Government’s agreement to implement all of the Commissioners’ recommendations is also extremely encouraging.

The Royal Commission and what flows from it has great promise to transform the lives of thousands of Victorians by keeping people well and at work.

As Commission Chair Penny Armytage has said, meaningful changes to Victoria’s mental health system and improvements to outcomes can only happen through listening to and respecting the views of the community.

The Royal Commission is a once-in-a-generation investigation into the way our system works to support people living with mental illness, and their carers and families. And it’s particularly welcome to see the Commission reach out so early to the community.

Meanwhile, we are very pleased that both the Coalition and the ALP have committed to addressing the very real gap in mental health treatment and support services between general practice and our hospitals. The Federal Government – with bipartisan support from Labor – has committed $115 million for a trial of seven adult mental health centres, the first of which will be built at Corio Village in Geelong. These hubs will bring together primary care with a range of support services to help keep people safe, well, housed, employed and, most importantly, out of hospital.

Behind the scenes, Mental Health Victoria has been working with our members and other stakeholders with an interest in building a better mental health system to develop the design concept for this important piece of system architecture.

Please join us in letting the Victorian Royal Commission know where critical action is needed on mental health and, after its recommendations are handed down, to build a better mental health system.

 

 

Marie Piu
CEO
Tandem Inc. 

Victoria’s mental health system is broken. To fix this system we need to ensure all services are:

Safe: End the current punitive, crisis-based approach that is causing so much harm and replace it with compassionate, accessible, therapeutic facilities so people can receive the care they need.

Inclusive: Mental health services must care about and be inclusive of family and friends. These groups need to be seen by mental health staff as a critical part of the treatment and support teams.

Fair: Everyone has the right to receive medical treatment for illness. The provision of mental health services must be fair. Disadvantaged and marginalised groups must be provided for, and mental health services must be accessible to all in our community.

Funded: We need to change the culture of the mental health system and ensure that it is well funded to provide the care people require, so that the responsibility is not falling onto families, police and emergency departments and is addressed by dedicated, caring and skilled professionals.

Tandem are the peak body for families and carers of people experiencing mental health challenges and emotional distress in Victoria.

 

 

Vrinda Edan
CEO (Acting)
The Victorian Mental IllnessAwareness Council (VMIAC)

Since the announcement of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, consumers have hoped for recommendations that shift mental health services away from doing harm and towards providing care and upholding human rights. Unfortunately, the indications are not positive.

Our primary principle for respectful and effective review processes is identical to the disability movement: nothing about us, without us, is for us. VMIAC advocated strongly for a consumer commissioner and a consumer co-chair of the expert advisory group, but these recommendations were ignored. We were pleased the Royal Commission did act on our advice to include multiple consumer members on this group.

VMIAC has advised the Royal Commission of process concerns, such as the lack of real notice about consultations and a lack of transparency about decision-making.

We have been disappointed by a failure to understand the significant expertise and relevance of the consumer workforce as potential expert witnesses, which has resulted in excluding some of the most critical voices from the hearings process. However, VMIAC did have the opportunity to provide evidence about the value of consumer peer support.

Ultimately, our membership is hopeful that the Royal Commission does not result in more of the same, but in a real opportunity to do things differently. To review the Mental Health Act to be compliant with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. To have consumer-run services and specialist trauma services. For consumer educators to co-design and co-deliver all mental health training. To include consumer experts in the highest levels of sector decision-making.

We acknowledge that achieving our hopes will take time, but we are hopeful that the Royal Commission will support a real transformation that brings our mental health services out of a regrettable past and into a bright future.