Both sides of politics have committed to improving psychological support for emergency service workers ahead of the November election, promising to provisionally accept WorkCover claims for those suffering mental health injuries.
The Coaltion, if elected, will provide $10,000 for medical expenses for each first responder for PTSD and depression treatment while their WorkCover claim is processed.
A re-elected Labor government will provisionally accept payments for workers within two years, but has placed no monetary cap on what can be claimed.
A Liberal-Nationals government will allocate $6 million toward a First Responders Support Fund to implement its promise, which will be managed by WorkCover.
Read more: Emergency services mental health crisis
A Labor government will invest $6 million to create a specialist network of clinicians to form a stronger and speedier link between emergency services and health professions, and a further $6 million toward an Early Intervention and Prevention Fund to help Victoria Police create and expand mental health support for its staff.
Former policeman and Liberal candidate for Bendigo East Ian Ellis said the commitments were encouraging. “There’s plenty of critical incidents that end up catching up with you. Some people can deal with it, some can't,” he said.
“In the past the main way it (mental health issues) was dealt with was a few beers down the pub which is inappropriate because it can have long-lasting effects.”
Shadow Minister for Police Edward O’Donohue, speaking outside the Epsom ambulance station on Tuesday, said: “This is about helping those with a psychological injury get the treatment straight away. If you break your leg on the job, you go and get if fixed straight away. If you have a mental health issue you should be able to get the help straight away.”
Premier Daniel Andrews said: “Our first responders can witness and experience the most unimaginable trauma. Sometimes these kinds of injuries can go untreated for years, even decades. It means, when our emergency workers do put their hand up for help, we need to be there.”
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