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A step towards remedying Victoria’s psychiatry workforce shortages

29 May 2019
 
 
 
The Victorian Budget 2019–2020 provides welcome measures to ease psychiatry workforce pressures in Victoria’s mental health system, while the recommendations of the current royal commission are awaited.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) Victorian Branch Chair, Professor Richard Newton, says that psychiatrists are stretched too thin in the public mental health system and are unable to deliver the care they want to provide.

‘In our budget submission, we called on the government to address these concerns and it is pleasing that they have acknowledged these challenges and committed to this.’

To help address workforce issues, the Victorian Government has pledged to fund 40 post-graduate leadership scholarships for psychiatrists over the next two years.

‘It is hoped that this will stem the flow of psychiatrists leaving the public sector, which is currently happening at alarming rates and therefore result in a less pressured workforce,’ said Professor Newton.

’A commitment to fund additional Director of Training positions as advocated for in our submission is also encouraging.’

‘These leadership positions will help coordinate training and develop the psychiatric workforce, to enhance the quality of psychiatry training.’

The RANZCP Victorian Branch is also encouraged by other measures in the Budget which take steps toward addressing existing gaps:
  • $23.3 million in funding announced for 28 additional inpatient beds
     
  • $35.3 million for more intensive services at three prevention and recovery care facilities and additional community services hours for more than 7000 new clients
     
  • $2.5 million over two years to enable the Mental Health Complaints Commissioner (MHCC) to continue safeguarding rights, resolving complaints about Victorian public mental health and recommending improvements for services and system improvements
     
  • $3.2 million over two years to ensure the Mental Health Tribunal continues to protect the rights of mental health patients receiving compulsory treatment
     
  • $3.6 million in additional funding for the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist and for a campaign to reduce the stigma around mental health
     
  • $3 million in funding for services to asylum seekers living in Victoria which will include mental health and trauma counselling, material aid, health and housing assistance for those with most acute need, and with pre-arrival experiences of trauma, torture and family loss and separation
     
  • $16.2 million to continue delivering co-ordinated responses with co-located police and mental health clinicians to respond to serious threats of violence posed by people with complex needs
     
  • $20 million over four years to provide mental health services for women with complex needs, including mental illness, intellectual disability or cognitive impairment, and programs providing a targeted, strategic response for Aboriginal women.
‘This Budget is a welcome step toward the change needed to ensure all Victorian’s can access the care and treatment they need for their mental health,’ Professor Richard Newton concluded.

The RANZCP Victorian Branch looks forward to working with the government to implement these measures.

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 Sarah Carr on +61 (0)3 9640 0646 or +61 437 315 911, or email media@ranzcp.org.