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Thomas Embling Hospital expansion
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Thomas Embling Hospital expansion

Location 201 Yarra Bend Road, Fairfield, Victoria, 3078, Australia

The $462.5 million upgrade of Thomas Embling Hospital will deliver an additional 82 secure mental health beds and help transform Victoria’s forensic mental health system.

The Thomas Embling Hospital is a secure forensic mental health hospital, providing care and treatment for people living with a serious mental illness in, or at risk of entering, the justice system.

With significant growth in forensic patients and increasing demand for mental health beds in the justice system, the project will ensure that Victorians most at risk can access mental health services in a secure, contemporary and recovery-focused environment.

Stages 1 and 2 of the expansion project will deliver a dedicated 34-bed women’s precinct, a 48-bed medium security men’s facility, a new entry complex, onsite carpark and clinical administration facilities.

Construction of the Thomas Embling Hospital expansion is set to commence in 2022 and main works are due for completion in 2024.

The project responds to a key recommendation from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.

$462.5 MILLION

INVESTMENT

82

SECURE MENTAL HEALTH BEDS

NEW

34-BED WOMEN’S PRECINCT

48-BED

MEDIUM SECURITY MEN’S FACILITY

The Thomas Embling Hospital expansion project will deliver:

  • a dedicated 34-bed women’s precinct
  • a 48-bed medium security men’s facility
  • a new entry complex
  • clinical administration facilities
  • additional carparking.

As the largest ever investment in Thomas Embling Hospital, the project will play a critical role in reforming the way forensic mental health services are delivered across the mental health system.

This includes:

  • reducing waiting times for specialist mental health services for Victorians involved in the justice system, or who are at high risk of offending
  • improving access to forensic mental health services in a secure, therapeutic and rehabilitation focused environment
  • improving access and the quality of facilities for women who have often experienced extensive trauma and family violence.

What services does Thomas Embling Hospital deliver?

Thomas Embling Hospital is a secure forensic mental health hospital. The hospital provides care and treatment for people living with a serious mental illness who are involved in the justice system. The hospital has some responsibility to also provide treatment for those at risk of entering the justice system.

The hospital opened in 2000 in Fairfield and is operated by Forensicare. It was purpose-designed and built to further the delivery of advanced clinical programs in the treatment of patients suffering from acute mental health issues.

Why is Thomas Embling Hospital being expanded?

The expansion project is in response to critical bed shortages and key recommendations from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.

The upgrade aims to:

  • reduce wait times for mental health assessment and treatment for all consumer types
  • support the rehabilitation and recovery of patients in a safe and therapeutic environment
  • reduce incidents of mental health deterioration and self-harm
  • increase access to services for female patients
  • enable appropriate access to persons at risk of entering the justice system.

How much is being invested?

The Victorian Government has invested a total of $462.5 million for stage 1 and 2 of the Thomas Embling Hospital expansion project.

How many construction jobs will the project create?

The project is expected to create and sustain around 750 construction jobs.

Who is delivering the project?

The Thomas Embling Hospital expansion project is being delivered by the Victorian Health Building Authority (VHBA) in partnership with Forensicare.

Has the builder been appointed?

Yes. John Holland has been appointed to build Stage 1 and 2 of the Thomas Embling Hospital expansion project.

What will the Thomas Embling Hospital expansion project deliver?

Stage 1 and 2 of the Thomas Embling Hospital expansion will deliver:

  • a dedicated 34-bed women’s precinct
  • a 48-bed medium security men’s facility
  • a new entry complex
  • onsite carparking
  • clinical administration facilities.

What will the new hospital look like?

Artist impressions have been released for the upgraded hospital. The facility has been designed to be secure, contemporary and recovery-focused. It will have the flexibility to adapt to the changing needs of clinicians, consumers, carers, families and supporters.

Read more

Why is co-design an important element in this project?

The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System found the perspectives and experiences of people with lived experience of mental illness or psychological distress are often overlooked when new mental health facilities are being designed.

Power imbalances throughout the system mean that the experiences, perspectives, and expertise of people with lived experience of mental illness or psychological distress (including consumers, carers, families, supporters and clinicians) are often not valued or recognised.

To this end, the Royal Commission also recommended people with lived experiences be involved in meaningfully co-designing future mental health facilities.

How has co-design helped to shape the planning and design?

The project team undertook a comprehensive co-design and engagement process to ensure people with lived experience of mental ill-health could help shape the planning and design of the upgraded Thomas Embling Hospital. This included patients, carers, staff and researchers.

Read the report

When will construction on the expansion project start?

Site preparation is expected to begin soon, with works on a temporary carpark on Fairlea East Oval.

Major construction on the hospital’s existing footprint is expected to begin in late 2022.

Why is a temporary carpark required?

While construction on the Thomas Embling Hospital upgrade is taking place, there will be a loss of existing carparking on site.

Carparking is crucial to continued operations of this service, due to proximity to public transport and the number of shift workers on site. Therefore, a temporary carparking space is required for the duration of the project.

Fairlea East Oval and Fairlea Road, adjacent to the site, have been identified as the only viable locations for temporary carparking after comprehensive assessments of alternate options. This will ensure the safety of staff, continued operations of the hospital and the protection of surrounding parklands that have heritage and cultural significance.

Once the expansion project is complete, an enhanced, safer and more usable Fairlea East Oval will be available for the community and sporting groups. A pedestrian footpath, permanent lighting, reoriented cricket pitch and additional permanent parking will be established and funded by the project.

What is the next step in the planning process?

The VHBA, as part of the Department of Health, is now seeking to extend the SCO16 in the Yarra Planning Scheme to include the use of Fairlea East Oval and Fairlea Road as temporary carparking until mid-2024.

This means that Fairlea East Oval would be unavailable for the use of the community and sporting groups while construction on the Thomas Embling Hospital expansion project is taking place.

The VHBA and Parks Victoria have been working together to upgrade another oval to ensure sporting groups can continue to train and play.

Will there be impacts from construction?

While construction is taking place there may be some impacts including increased vehicle and people movement in the area, and localised noise and dust. These impacts will be regularly monitored and minimised wherever possible.

All works will be carried out in strict accordance with approved Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and council guidelines and within approved construction work hours.

Will there be any impacts on flora and fauna?

Wildlife assessments and arborists reports were conducted when assessing the suitability of the site.

Works have been planned to minimise impacts on the environment, however removal of some trees and vegetation surrounding the oval is required. Trees and vegetation will be removed in accordance with authority conditions, and under the direction of a qualified arborist.

How will the community be kept updated on the project?

The local community will be provided with ongoing information on the proposed works, and can stay up-to-date via this project page.

A community information session will be held later this year, ahead of major construction.

Any questions or request for information about the project can be directed to the VHBA at tehexpansion@health.vic.gov.au.

This project is being delivered by the Victorian Health Building Authority in partnership with:

  • Forensicare
  • Guymer Bailey Architects
  • John Holland (builder)
  • AECOM (Engineering). 
Thomas Embling Hospital expansion
  • Location
  • 201 Yarra Bend Road
    Fairfield, Victoria, 3078, Australia

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Last updated: 27 October 2022