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Victorian State Budget 2023/24

Looking after mental health

The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System told us that when it comes to accessing mental healthcare, too often, Victorians struggled to get the support they need.

Two people sitting and talking in a courtyard

People found themselves falling through the gap in the ‘missing middle’ – ‘not sick enough’ to access clinical care, or ‘too sick’ to be treated outside a hospital.

The pandemic really drove home the need for mental health services you can access where and when you need them. Demand for mental health services has grown significantly since 2020, and it’s remained higher than pre‑pandemic levels as demonstrated by the number of active mental health consumers.

We promised Victorians we’d build our mental health system from the ground up, and that we’d implement every single recommendation from the Royal Commission. Implementing those recommendations will take a decade or more of reform – and across three Budgets, we've invested $5.7 billion to get on with it.

This year, we'll invest a further $776 million for critical bed‑based services, AOD services, infrastructure, earlier support in community mental health services and the roll‑out of the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act.

Infrastructure to support better mental health

In response to the Royal Commission, we established a dedicated capital investment fund to provide the mental health infrastructure Victorians need.

This year, through the Mental Health Capital Fund, we’ll invest:

  • $53 million for planning and development, including detailed design for Stage 3 of the redevelopment of the Thomas Embling Hospital.
  • $10 million to upgrade infrastructure across a range of health services so they can keep delivering the services Victorians need most in their local communities.

These initiatives build on the record investment of $1.5 billion in previous budgets in mental health infrastructure in response to the Royal Commission.

We promised Victorians we’d build our mental health system from the ground up, and that's exactly what we're doing.

Better community mental health services

The Royal Commission told us that when it came to accessing care, some Victorians don’t know where to turn, or who to turn to.

That's why in 2021‑22, we invested $264 million in local care, providing a ‘front door’ for Victorians to get the help they need with Mental Health and Wellbeing Locals (Wellbeing Locals). Local Services focus on early intervention, ensuring Victorians get the care they need much sooner and much closer to their families and communities.

The first six of them are now open, and another 21 are already funded and underway.

In this Budget, we’re investing $91 million to begin work on three new Wellbeing Locals in Northcote, Leongatha and Narre Warren and continue delivery of other community based services. This funding will also kickstart planning on another 20 Wellbeing Locals – bringing us another step closer to delivering on our promise to build 50 across Victoria.

It's estimated each ongoing Wellbeing Locals will generate economic and fiscal benefits of more than $70 million within a decade.

We are also investing $81 million to expand specialist forensic mental health services for Victorians with mental health conditions, to improve their wellbeing and help them stay out of the justice system.

Our mental health and wellbeing system

The Royal Commission recommended we replace the former Mental Health Act 2014 with a new, fit‑for‑purpose Mental Health and Wellbeing Act that serves as the foundation for a world‑class mental health and wellbeing system.

The new Act, which comes into effect on 1 September 2023, will support an integrated, contemporary and adaptable mental health system – one that places lived experience at its heart. It also underpins the expansion of the mental health workforce, supporting the dedicated professionals who care for Victorians every day.

Funding in this Budget will support:

  • The Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission, which will provide stronger leadership, oversight and accountability.
  • The next stage of operations for the Victorian Collaborative Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing, supporting mental health research, services and workforce development.
  • The operations of the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist and the Mental Health Tribunal to uphold quality and safety, and protect the rights and dignity of people with mental illness.
  • Ongoing legislative reform and evaluation to support a strong and evidence‑based legislative framework.

Reviewed 21 May 2023


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