A pledge for 350 extra staff in our severely under-resourced mental health workforce shows the Andrews Labor Government has abandoned Victorians struggling in the shadow pandemic.
Labor’s lockdowns have seen more Victorians than ever reaching out to mental health services, but a shortage of workers means many people are being told they’ll have to wait months for treatment.
On Sunday, the Government said it would fund 358 workers, but Shadow Minister for Mental Health Emma Kealy said it was disappointingly short of what was needed.
“There’s something very wrong when a system that’s supposed to support people at crisis point is instead turning vulnerable people away because there’s not enough workers to meet demand,” Ms Kealy said.
“An extra 350 workers, with a vague promise of “thousands more in coming years” doesn’t help those Victorians who need help now.
“It’s frustrating that the Government still chooses to ignore opportunities at our fingertips to boost the workforce right now – not in a few years’ time.
“Earlier this year, the Liberals and Nationals supported calls from the mental health sector to unlock 4000 extra specialists, including through simple changes to the Mental Health Act and changes to state government funding criteria for counsellors in our schools.
“But instead of getting behind these reforms, the Andrews Government has actively worked against them.
“The Royal Commission told us that Victoria’s mental health system was broken long before the pandemic started.
“Supporting people’s good mental health will be crucial in the next few months as Victoria recovers and rebuilds – unlocking thousands, not just hundreds, of mental health specialists will mean those who need urgent help will be able to access it.”