Member for Western Victoria
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party

Rural and Regional Mental Health Services

Mr GRIMLEY (Western Victoria) (17:49): I rise to give my adjournment debate, which is for the attention of the Minister for Mental Health regarding rural and regional mental health services. Firstly, I congratulate the Deputy Premier on his appointment to the portfolio as Minister for Mental Health, and I hope to work closely with him as we did with the previous minister in this space. Whilst rural and regional areas only represent a small portion of the total Victorian population, demand for mental health services in country Victoria continues to boom. While the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns have caused much social, psychological and financial hardship in country Victoria, shortages in mental health services existed well before COVID-19. We have seen time and time again how hard it is to attract skilled workers to rural and regional Victoria, which is why the state government last year announced that it was providing $45.2 million to address teacher supply issues outside Melbourne by attracting teachers and school leaders to state schools in rural and regional Victoria and supporting them to stay. While I commend the state government on this announcement, I do not believe that the scheme should be limited to the education sector alone. Chronic shortages within the health and mental health space continue to harm our country communities. In many cases young adults in Horsham are waiting months for an appointment at a Headspace centre. Additionally, places like Nhill and Warracknabeal are without a fully publicly funded mental health psychologist or psychiatrist, meaning that many individuals only receive help when in hospital and experiencing acute mental health symptoms. When it comes to mental health, prevention is the key. Finally, I note Ms Maxwell asked the Treasurer a similar question in November last year. Since then we have sadly not seen the broadening to other sectors of the economy. Rural and regional Victoria deserve better. Therefore the action that I seek is for the Minister for Mental Health to expand the recruitment scheme he implemented for teachers as the Minister for Education so that there is a greater financial incentive for mental health specialists to move to and work in rural and regional Victoria. The health of our country communities depends on it.


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