Psychiatrists welcome the passing of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 – focus now must turn to careful implementation
The peak body of psychiatrists has welcomed the Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 being passed in Victoria.
The third reading of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Bill 2022 was passed on 18 August 2022 in the Upper House of the Victorian Parliament and is currently undergoing amendments made by the Legislative Council for consideration by the Lower House. The College has particularly welcomed the amendments made to occupational health and safety provisions in the Bill.
RANZCP Victorian Chair, Dr Astha Tomar, welcomed the significant investment by the Victorian Government in the new mental health and wellbeing system and emphasised that more has to be done to ensure the availability of specialist mental health services.
'We commend the different approach adopted to reform Victoria's mental health system compared to the last time. This is a crucial opportunity to ensure the system does not fail the community as it consistently has through the last decade because of a massively underfunded and unsupported mental health sector', Dr Tomar said.
'The focus must now turn to the legislation's careful implementation and ensuring frontline workers have a seat at the planning table'.
'The Bill recognises that the demand for mental health services is increasing in Victoria, but we have to go further and distinguish the increase in the severity of illnesses. This means more people will require specialist mental health care wherever they live, and we must make it available and accessible for all'.
Dr Tomar said that as the system prepares for the implementation phase of the Bill, the expert knowledge, skills, and leadership related to therapeutic care, treatment, and support offered by clinicians should be recognised first and foremost to impart evidence-based care.
'Consultation with clinicians is critical in order to address complex and intersectional issues in the state's mental health and wellbeing system and should be looked at as an intrinsic part of work needed on co-designing principles'.
'A comprehensive health system aims to balance the needs of the consumer and their carers and ensure the system makes provisions for enabling the delivery of safe and effective treatment, care and support – with the best available evidence. Lived experience is central to Victoria's mental health reform'.
'Through meaningful engagement with clinicians and improved opportunities for intersectoral discussion and collaboration, we can tap into the clinical insights and clinical academic research that could benefit the reform in its implementation'.
'This legislation will be critical in ensuring that the public health system is accountable to the community and delivers effective evidence-based clinical treatments for moderate and severe mental illnesses'.
The Victorian Branch of the RANZCP continues to welcome opportunities for collaboration with the Victorian Government, the Victorian Department of Health, and other stakeholders across the system to develop focused solutions to improve the mental health of Victorians.
'We look forward to building on this work with the Minister for Mental Health Gabrielle Williams to develop a safe and responsive mental health and wellbeing system that meets the needs of Victorians, when they need it, wherever they live'.
'We request an urgent meeting with the Minister to discuss immediate opportunities regarding the planning for implementation of the new bill', Dr Tomar said.
For all other expert mental health information visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.
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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 www.ranzcp.org.
In Australia: If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or www.lifeline.org.au or the Suicide Callback Service on 1300 659 467 or www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au.
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