Severe workforce shortages threatening mental healthcare in Victoria

Victorian psychiatrists are alarmed to see a lack of investment in the mental health workforce in today’s budget, after the Treasurer conceded that local mental health services are being rolled back due to workforce shortages. 

Chair of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) Victorian Branch Dr Simon Stafrace said Victoria's mental health needs continue to escalate, and investment in the workforce needs to keep pace.

“The Treasurer has acknowledged today that the implementation of the Royal Commission’s recommendations is being slowed down by the critical and chronic workforce shortages plaguing our mental health system,” said Dr Stafrace. 

“This is crunch time. It is one thing to acknowledge how debilitating the workforce shortage is on the Government’s ability to deliver mental health services, but what we need to see is action. 

“The Victorian Government must work with the Federal Government to invest in growing the psychiatry workforce, along with other mental health specialists and peer workers. 

“Victoria has made significant progress towards mental health reform. But after years of neglect, we cannot afford to lose sight of the scale of the problem.

“Victorians need a mental health system that can respond to a mental health crisis. But just as importantly, we need a system that can intervene early and prevent mental conditions from escalating to crisis levels. 

“Equally, we need comprehensive clinical and social care and housing systems to support people with severe mental health conditions who seek to recover and lead meaningful lives in the community. 

A recent survey by the RANZCP found that 90 per cent of Victoria’s psychiatrists say workforce shortages are negatively impacting patient care, with 80 per cent reporting that workforce shortages are contributing to burnout in psychiatry. 

The RANZCP Victorian Branch said it is disappointed to see a lack of investment in a range of priority areas, including: 

  • Attracting, training, and retaining psychiatrists in the state 
  • Expansion of community mental health services, including mental health and wellbeing local hubs 
  • Support for a lived experience-led agency, as per recommendation 29 of the Royal Commission 
  • New hospital beds and hospital-in-the-home beds in the Southern and Eastern metropolitan regions 

The Victorian Branch of the RANZCP has welcomed a number of investments in today’s budget which will contribute positively to the mental health of Victorians, including:

  • Prevention of family violence 
  • Building alcohol and drug hubs in hospitals 
  • Early intervention for Victorians with eating disorders 
  • Cost of living relief measures for families 
  • Hospital and emergency department upgrades 
  • Youth Prevention and Recovery Care (YPARC) beds, Mental Health and Wellbeing Hubs, and suicide prevention services in rural and regional Victoria

“In recent years, Victoria has been a leader in mental health reform, but without adequate and ongoing investment in mental health, we risk going backwards on the gains we have made so far,” said Dr Stafrace. 

“Our mental health system needs sustained investment and support to meet the growing needs of the community, particularly for those with serious and complex mental health conditions and psychological distress.

“We look forward to continue working collaboratively with the Victorian Government to deliver timely and effective mental health services to everyone who needs them in the state,” Dr Stafrace said.

For all other expert mental health information visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website. 

ENQUIRIES: For more information, or to arrange an interview call Dishi Gahlowt on +61 437 315 911, or email

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists is a membership organisation that prepares medical specialists in the field of psychiatry, supports and enhances clinical practice, advocates for people affected by mental illness and advises governments and other groups on mental health care. For information about our work, our members or our history, visit

In Australia: If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or or the Suicide Callback Service on 1300 659 467 or

In New Zealand: If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline NZ on 0800 543 354 or or the Suicide Crisis Helpline on 0508 828 865 or


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