24 October 2018

Orygen welcomes Victorian Government’s pledge of a royal commission into mental health

Orygen welcomes Victorian Government’s pledge of a royal commission into mental health

Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, welcomes the Victorian Government’s election commitment to establish a royal commission into mental health if re-elected.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews made the pledge today in Kyneton, saying that if his Government is re-elected next month, the royal commission would begin within a Labour Government’s first 100 days.

Orygen’s executive director, Professor Patrick McGorry, said a royal commission was the only way to mobilise the power of the Victorian community to secure the major redesign and funding growth that is essential if the huge problems afflicting the entire mental health system are to be overcome.

“At present out of the 3% of Victorians experiencing serious mental illness only 1.1% are receiving specialist care,” Professor McGorry said. “This means every day two out of three seriously ill Victorians miss out on the care and treatment they need. We’ve seen the overwhelming surge of people into our emergency departments and hospitals as more and more people present in desperate crises.”

“More than 600 Victorians die annually from suicide. They don’t have terminal illnesses and their deaths are all, therefore, preventable.”

Professor McGorry called on the coalition to also commit to holding a royal commission into mental health should they be elected.  ” Mental health is a bipartisan space and should ideally remain so.”

He said he anticipated the outcomes of a royal commission into Victoria’s mental health system would provide the government of the day with a clear mandate to implement a major redesign of mental health care in Victoria, and would drive significant investments to secure access and equity within the health system for people with mental illness.

“Twenty years ago, Victoria had the highest per capita spend of all states on mental health care, and was seen as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Australian mental health care. Today, Victoria has sunk to providing the lowest per capita investment in community mental health services compared to all other states and territories,” Professor McGorry said.

“If the Victorian Government’s swift and unprecedented response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence are anything to go by, this announcement of a royal commission should provide significant hope that the government is committed to understanding the problems in the mental health system and making the investment and system-wide reforms needed to address them.”