Mayor Dick Gross

Port Phillip Council is urging the Victorian Government to make changes to mental health services for its community through its submission to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.

Council has called for the Victorian Government to ensure that community-based treatment and care models, such as the Assertive Outreach Community Treatment Team pathway and the return of Crisis Assessment and Treatment (CAT) teams treating people in their homes, are prioritised.

Mayor Dick Gross welcomed the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System. “Victoria used to be at the forefront of mental health funding and support for residents, now we have fallen behind. Previous initiatives provided by STAR Health have been defunded as clients transition to NDIS,” Cr Gross said.

The Council submission says the current mental health care model lacks adequate prevention and early intervention options due to underfunding and neglect.
This funding reduction has led to the disappearance of some community-based outreach services, and reduced and overloaded CAT teams, drastically affecting their ability to respond in a proactive and timely manner.

“Port Phillip Council and community health services are well-placed to support community-based initiatives, which would see outcomes significantly improve for our community. We would like to see a return to these services,” Cr Gross said.

The current model of mental health pathways defaulting to Acute Hospital Emergency Departments mean people experiencing mental health issues, even if they self-present, usually do not receive appropriate assessment, let alone on-going treatment, the submission said.

The City of Port Phillip is a diverse community with disparate needs when it comes to mental health. Residents of Port Phillip are more likely to be affected by mental illness, with 31.2 per cent reporting a life time prevalence of anxiety/depression, compared to the Victorian average of 18.4 per cent.

For information on how to make a submission to the Royal Commission on Mental Health please go to: https://rcvmhs.vic.gov.au/submissions. Submissions close 5 July 2019.