The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath and The Nationals candidate for Morwell, Martin Cameron are calling on the Andrews Government to do more to improve mental health service access in regional communities.
Ms Bath said with the Mental Health and Wellbeing Bill due to be debated in parliament’s upper house, the Andrews Government has an opportunity improve its support our mental health providers at the grassroots level.
Speaking in state parliament last sitting week, Ms Bath said crisis support lines like Lifeline Gippsland and Kids Help Line did the bulk of heavy lifting to support locals through the Andrews Government’s harsh pandemic lockdowns.
“Lifeline Gippsland experienced a 45 percent increase in calls to its crisis line during the pandemic which hasn’t eased off, and the Andrews Government is ignoring requests for funding to cover this increased demand.
“Lifeline is synonymous with crisis support and suicide prevention and there’s not a media article or government media releases on mental health that doesn’t mention its crisis support line.
“The Nationals fully support the findings of the Mental Health Royal Commission, and the Andrews Government can’t sit back while critical mental health support services like Lifeline Gippsland struggle to stay operational.”
Lifeline Gippsland’s dedicated volunteers deliver a world class mental health support service triaging around 11,000 calls each year – each call costs them $39 on average or $430,000 annually.
The Andrews Government funding commitment to Lifeline Gippsland is $150,000, leaving the charity with a substantial shortfall to cover operating costs.
Martin Cameron, The Nationals candidate for Morwell who met with Lifeline Gippsland CEO Michelle Possingham to discuss the organisation’s challenges said it’s frustrating that the organisation is forced to be reliant on fundraising to deliver much needed mental health supports.
“CEO, Michelle Possingham shared her experience of being involved in Lifeline Gippsland, working to save lives, and supporting people through their darkest hours,” said Mr Cameron.
“The Andrews Government must deliver better mental health support to our regional communities and not just create another city-based government department or build bricks and mortar infrastructure.
“Infrastructure and more bureaucracy don’t improve mental health service delivery – properly funding established mental health support services like Lifeline Gippsland will.
“Two local mental health providers have closed their doors in the last month alone, therefore I’m committed to fighting for Lifeline Gippsland, so it receives its fair share.
“Lifeline Gippsland staff and volunteers do an amazing job supporting people in need, it’s vital the Andrews government recognise its value with more than words.”
“As The Nationals candidate for the seat of Morwell, I will advocate on behalf of Lifeline for secure funding from the Liberals and Nationals.”