The Victorian Government has released its 10-year Mental Health Plan. At the time of the major rounds of consultation the Union highlighted its concern about the lack of workforce planning; and the lack of consideration given to the growth in demand for mental health services without a subsequent growth in suitably qualified staff.
But unfortunately the Government’s document is only called a plan – there’s nothing in it that resembles an actual plan given the work of formulating the actual plan and implementation is being orchestrated by an unrepresentative expert taskforce and reference groups. The document often repeats how the Government wants to ensure that all Victorian enjoy good mental health but there is very little detail about how this will be achieved.
The paper does outline the Government’s desire to ‘co-produce’ services with service providers and the users of mental health services shaping and guiding Government policy. The Victorian Government also wants to have a more coordinated and integrated approach to mental healthcare so that people can access the right services at the right time; and delivered through public hospitals, community healthcare providers and Commonwealth-funded primary care like primary healthcare networks.
While all of this sounds great, the paper fails to adequately address workforce planning. The paper acknowledges retention is a major issue but fails to identify how increasing retention will be done. And the paper fails to address the very real concerns about bullying and intimidation from managers and patients. The paper also identifies that the Government wants to focus its initial efforts at increasing the number of people paid with lived experiences to boost the mental health workforce.
Unfortunately the plan does not outline anything which could arguably be called a plan. Instead the paper released by the Victorian Government appears to be more for information as it only details the general direction the government wants to go in.
The real plan will be developed by an expert panel and reference groups. And the Union will be fighting hard to make sure that we are represented on the expert panel and all appropriate reference groups.