Murray Primary Health Network has welcomed the Royal Commission's emphasis on people with lived experience of mental illness contributing to the design and delivery of services.
Chief executive Matt Jones described it as a 'really important development.'
He also welcomed the interim report's focus on increasing investment in state funded acute and psychiatric care.
Mr Jones said it would be important to ensure those services were accessible and available to people in rural and regional areas.
He also highlighted a need for investment in prevention, early intervention and primary mental health services.
"Any measures that can improve services and outcomes for people that suffer from mental health issues is positive."
That is Bendigo Health chief executive Peter Faulkner's response to the interim findings of the Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System.
The health care group acknowledged the Royal Commission's nine recommendations.
"We look forward to the government's response and the final report," Mr Faulkner said.
The health care group made a 26-page submission to the Royal Commission.
Bendigo Community Health Services has taken encouragement from the Royal Commission's recommendations, believing they pave the way for 'once in a generation' system change.
"It's heartening to see today's interim report recognise the groups highlighted in our submission as needing urgent consideration," said chief executive Gerard José.
"There is the 'missing middle' - those who fall between the gaps due to not being at the higher level of acuteness and not meeting eligibility requirements for services funded to worth with people with mild mental health presentations.
"Young people needing better access to services along with people of refugee background.
"Importantly, the interim report highlights 'themes' such as poor investment, service access, dignity, stigma and discrimination, youth, carers, the complexity of mental illness, recovery, trauma and prevention - all of which must be addressed for real change to occur."
Mr José said it was essential the people who bravely told their stories had the opportunity to play a role in the design of future services and facilities, both to start healing the trauma of the past and to ensure any future mental health system delivered the effective change everyone so desperately wanted to see.
He acknowledged the state government's willingness to address a systemic failure and to generate reform across regional communities and cities.
Bendigo Community Health Services made a 10-page submission to the Royal Commission.
Maryborough District Health Service has welcomed the Royal Commission's interim report, but has queried how the recommendations will affect services in rural and regional communities.
Chief executive Terry Welch said he was looking forward to more detailed work evolving from the recommendations.
He noted the Royal Commission's recognition of the increased resourcing needed within the workforce and the recommendation that more acute mental health beds be provided.
But he questioned how the report addressed some of the inequities highlighted by those providing and seeking to access services in regional and remote parts of the state.
Mr Welch looked forward to seeing more in the final report about the role of GPs in mental health service provision, as well as the changes needed to provide more structured and streamlined care coordination.
The Royal Commission recommended a Victorian Collaborative Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing be established in Melbourne.
"I think it's terrific," Mr Welch said.
But he queried how that centre would translate to improved care in rural and regional Victoria.
Mr Welch was hopeful the additional 170 youth and adult acute mental health beds the Royal Commission called for in its interim report was the first tranche of a broader service expansion.
The Royal Commission recommended that 135 acute inpatient public mental health beds be proportionally provided to Barwon Health and to Melbourne Health.
Melbourne Health's beds would be delivered in alliance with Western Health and Northern Health.
The interim report recommended a further 35 acute inpatient mental health beds be procured from a private provider to support public patients who would otherwise be treated in a public mental health inpatient unit.
Mr Welch gave evidence to the Royal Commission during its Maryborough hearing. The health service also made a written submission.
Premier Daniel Andrews has confirmed there will be a new tax or levy to support mental health service provision and system reforms.
He said senior government members would spend the summer looking at different options and models to implement a new revenue mechanism, in consultation with the Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System.
The premier expected the new levy to raise hundreds of millions of dollars - potentially billions -in additional funding that could be dedicated to make sure a system designed to keep people well was delivered.
"Not to inevitably fail them when they are in crisis. We can do so much better, and we will," Mr Andrews said.
He said changing the system would be expensive, but the cost of inaction was far, far greater.
"And so much of it really can't be measured because it is about lives lost," he said.
Mr Andrews said the mental health system's failure was costing Victoria more than $14 billion a year.
The time had come for change and mental health needed to be taken seriously.
"We've got to do this," the premier said.
He reaffirmed the state government's commitment to implementing all of the Royal Commission's recommendations, including the nine detailed in the interim report.
THE Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System has called for immediate action, including a potential new tax to support service provision and system reforms.
In its interim report, delivered this morning, the commission said the existing system was 'not just compromised - it is afflicted by systemic failings'.
"Once admired as the most progressive in our nation, the state's mental health system has catastrophically failed to live up to expectations," the four commissioners wrote in the foreword.
"Past ambitions have not been realised or upheld, and the system is woefully unprepared for current and future mental health challenges."
Recommended actions included a 'new approach to funding', consisting of a tax or levy and a dedicated capital investment fund for the mental health system.
The commission also called for 170 more acute mental health beds for young people and adults, statewide.
Increased supports for people who had attempted to take their own lives were a priority.
The Royal Commission recommended the state government boost funding for follow-up care and support and establish a new program especially focused on children and young people.
More opportunities should be provided to expand and develop the mental health workforce, the interim report said.
Options included supported overseas recruitment, leadership development, funded graduate positions, psychiatry rotations and postgraduate scholarships.
The interim report recommended two new centres be created as a priority - a Victorian Collaborative Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing, and an Aboriginal Social and Emotional Wellbeing Centre.
Social and emotional wellbeing teams should be established in Aboriginal communities throughout the state.
The commission recommended the establishment of Victoria's first residential mental health service, designed and delivered by people with lived experience of mental illness.
The interim report highlighted the importance of those with lived experience being involved in the mental health system, calling for supports and structures to "enhance and expand consumer and family-carer lived experience workforces".
A temporary Mental Health Implementation Office was proposed to respond to the recommendations in the interim report.
Meanwhile, the commission planned to design governance arrangements for the mental health system.
Major system redesign is expected to be the focus of the commission's final report, which is due in October 2020.
"The scale of the necessary change is enormous; indeed, some of the benefits of this inquiry's work will probably be realised only in generations to come," the interim report said.
The 680-page document contains recommendations for "preparing the way for a new approach to mental health," and responding to "some of the most immediate challenges".
Speaking to reporters at parliament today, Royal Commission chair Penny Armytage said it was not good enough to just do more of the same.
"As a community, we have allowed mental health to remain hidden," she said.
The state government has already committed to implement all of the recommendations from the Royal Commission.
- with Australian Associated Press
More to come.
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