In 2021, the Victorian Government released the final report and recommendations from the Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System.
It sets out a 10-year vision for rebuilding our mental health system from the ground up, with communities at the centre.
The Victorian Health Building Authority (VHBA) is assisting through delivering infrastructure projects and new models of care.
We're delivering projects to create better access to safe, modern and high-quality mental health care for Victorians.
Mental health support for young families
The Victorian Government is delivering three Statewide Child and Family Centres to support more children and families in Victoria.
Designed as safe, welcoming, and healing environments for young families, with a focus on self-determination.
The centres improve access to mental health services for children up to 11 years of age. Children can have their families stay with them in the safe and supportive residential setting. While receiving specialist mental health treatment.
In June 2023, first of three centres were delivered in Macleod, in Melbourne's north. The Victorian Government invested $7.3 million to deliver the Victorian-first centre, which features:
- 12 beds (accommodating three families at any time)
- shared living spaces including kitchen, dining, lounge, laundry and activity areas
- outdoor living, family and garden areas
- clinical consulting areas
- staff support areas.
Increased support for young people
- Recommendation 20: Supporting the mental health and wellbeing of young people
- Recommendation 21: Redesigning bed-based services for young people
Mental health challenges affect young people differently. That's why the Victorian Government is delivering five new 10-bed, and three refurbished, Youth Prevention and Recovery Care (YPARC) centres.
The $141 million investment will double the capacity of Victoria's YPARC network. The centres are delivered across the state, so young people can access mental health services closer to home.
The centres provide treatment, care, and support to young people aged 16-25 years experiencing mental health challenges.
Young people can have different needs or preferences on their recovery journey. By engaging young people with lived experience of mental health challenges in the co-design process, we can better meet their needs.
Judith Hemsworth, Principate Advisor Design - Mental Health, Department of Health
'Co-design is about designing with, not for, people. It involves actively sharing power in decision making. Prioritising relationships, building capacity, and using participatory methods. To build and create things together.'
Laura is a young person with lived experience of mental health challenges. She has been applying her experience to co-designing the Ballarat YPARC centre.
She recently joined others with lived experience, along with clinicians and health staff at Big Plans Melbourne.
Big Plans is a unique place that allows people to explore what a finished building would be like before it is built.
By projecting the floorplan in real size into an open space, people can walk through and experience the design.
Laura said the process gives her a voice.
'I think I'm a youth that was really tired of other people telling me what to do and what would be best for me.'
She was able to walk through and give feedback on issues, challenges, and opportunities based on her lived experience.
She adds, 'I think the whole importance of co-design is that everyone is listening to everybody.'
Expanding mental health beds
- Recommendation 11: New models of care for bed-based services
- Recommendation 12: Developing new bed-based rehabilitation services
The Victorian Government is investing $801 million to deliver a Mental Health Beds Expansion Program. The program is delivering new acute mental beds across Victoria at:
- Northern Hospital, Epping
- Sunshine Hospital, St Albans
- The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville
- McKellar Centre, Geelong
- Goulburn Valley Health, Shepparton
- Footscray Hospital
- Melton Hospital
- Frankston Hospital
- Warrnambool Hospital.
These extra beds provide more support for people experiencing mental illness who require immediate treatment in a contemporary, safe and high-quality setting.
It also increases mental health capacity and reduces pressure on emergency departments.
A new mental health facility was completed at Northern Hospital in Epping in February 2023.
Since opening, it continues to provide residents in Melbourne's northern suburbs access to immediate mental health treatment.
The centre was designed in consultation with people with lived experience of the mental health system. This includes consumers, carers, clinicians and staff.
The multi-million dollar project delivered:
- an acute mental health facility with 30 single person bedrooms with ensuites
- a sensory room
- de-escalation room
- internal courtyards and enclosed garden areas
- multi-functional rooms
- spiritual rooms
- staff and family lounges
- treatment rooms.
Driving change through infrastructure
Samantha Morgan was the Project Director for one of the first projects delivered for the Mental Health Beds Expansion Program.
Samantha says the recommendations from the Royal Commision have driven creation of facilities very different to what has been delivered in Victoria previously. Something she is incredibly proud of.
'The building are informed through co-design, which involves staff, consumers, their families, and carers,' explains Samantha.
'That was one of the drivers from the Royal Commission ... They really wanted to change the infrastructure and how people interacted with that infrastructure.'
Transforming Victoria's forensic mental health system
- Recommendation 38: Providing safe and appropriate mental health treatment, care and support at Thomas Embling Hospital
The Victorian Government is also transforming the mental health system for people living with a serious mental illness in, or at risk of entering, the justice system.
A $515.7 million upgrade of Thomas Embling Hospital is delivering an extra 82 secure mental health beds. The project is delivering:
- a dedicated 34-bed women's precinct
- a 48-bed medium security men's facility
- a new entry complex
- an onsite carpark
- administration facilities.
The project will ensure Victorians most at risk can access mental health services in a secure, contemporary and recovery-focus environment.
Co-design and engagement report released
The Thomas Embling Hospital expansion project co-design and engagement report has been released.
This follows a comprehensive co-design and engagement process. The process gave people with lived experience of mental ill-health the opportunity to contribute to the planning and design of the upgraded hospital.
Continuing to support better mental health for Victorians
The Victorian Government is continuing to improve Victoria's mental health system to benefit all Victorians.
In September 2023, a new Mental Health Act came into effect. The Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 replaces the Mental Health Act 2014.
This Act aims to give Victorians the right to safe, inclusive, and accessible mental health and wellbeing services. It includes new laws to strengthen Victorians' say in what treatment and support they want.
Our work continues to support this vision through delivering infrastructure project and new models of care to meet the current and future needs of all Victorians.
Getting mental health support
Mental health helplines can provide support if you are experiencing mental ill health:
- Beyondblue - call 1300 224 636 for telephone support, information and resources for people dealing with depression or anxiety
- Lifeline - call 13 11 14 for this free, 24-hour Australia-wide crisis support and suicide prevention service
- Kids Help Line - call 1800 55 1800 for free counselling and advice for young people between the ages of five and 25.
A comprehensive list of counselling, online and phone supports for mental illness is available on the Better Health Channel website.
Last updated: 09 October 2023
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