Mental Health Support For Drought Affected Communities

People in Mildura and across regional Victoria will get more mental health support, with the extension of Mildura’s successful suicide prevention program and additional funding for drought affected communities across the state.

Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley visited Mildura today to announce the Andrews Labor Government is extending the city’s place-based suicide prevention trial, which is helping develop plans to reduce suicides and deliver effective suicide prevention at a local level.

Through the Roses in the Ocean group, 12 people received support to contribute their lived experience and safely tell their personal stories. Eight of these went on to form a lived experience advisory group for the trial.

More than 20 people are now part of the emerging Sunraysia Mallee Community Suicide Prevention Network – an informed, independent and proactive resource for local community suicide prevention.

Work is continuing with Primary Health Networks (PHNs) as our partners in the program, to ensure all of the good work across the 12 trial sites can be extended for another year.

Drought affected regions of Victoria, including Mildura, will also share in more than $1.65 million for mental health support. Administered by local councils and health services, each region will choose where the money is best spent in their local area, with a focus on programs and supports tailored to the needs of the community.

This includes Mental Health First Aid, Suicide Prevention workshops and training forums to help the community, service providers and businesses navigate the mental health system and learn how to support people seeking help.

This funding package comes on top of the $1.89 million allocated in 2018 for mental health drought support and will allow programs to continue where funding would otherwise cease.

The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health Services interim report, delivered in November, found too many Victorians living with mental illness are waiting longer and getting sicker before they can access services.

The report contained nine priority recommendations, including a major expansion of the Hospital Outreach Post-suicidal Engagement program (HOPE), 135 new acute mental health beds, workforce development particularly in regional and rural Victoria and a state-wide rollout of Aboriginal health and wellbeing teams.

The Commission will hand down its final report in October this year – the Government will accept and implement all its recommendations.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley

“The Royal Commission found the annual suicide rate is about 40 per cent higher in regional areas than in Melbourne – we need to give these communities the resources and support they need to stay well and save lives.

“The drought is only compounding this problem, so this extra funding is designed to ease the burden for Victorians in drought affected areas who doing it tough.”

Quote attributable to Member for Northern Victoria Mark Gepp

“We’ve already seen some really strong suicide prevention work in Mildura and it’s great news for the local community that this program can continue and even more support will soon be available through extra funding.”