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Victorian Mental Health and Police Response Initiative

The Media announcement (below) from Mental Health Minister is recognition of one of the most serious problems our communities have encountered since the deinstitutionalisation of our mental health system. Many, many unwell people, suffering psychotic episodes, have been seriously injured or killed during interventions. Many others have been denied a proper assessment, care and treatment because of a serious lack of trained people, let alone appropriate follow-up clinical services.

Consequently, far too many people with a mental illness end up in our prisons (more than 30% of our prison population have a mental illness).

One of the greatest problems facing us all is the failure of governments’, of all political persuasions, to provide on-going and supported accommodation for those unfortunate souls with chronic mental illness. This is the missing link in the chain of so-called reforms, which followed the closure of psychiatric hospitals.

The Minister’s announcement is welcome news, but until such time as governments’ are moved to provide safe, affordable and supported accommodation for people with long-term mental illness, it is a bit like the little boy who put his finger in the dyke.

Please do all you can to push this cause with all your might.

 

Derek Amos

Chairman

Barrier Breakers Inc

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$15.1 million for statewide mental health and police crisis response

  • Victorian Coalition Government funding a statewide rollout of a key mental health and emergency services initiative
  • Investment of $15.1 million for police, ambulance and mental health personnel to tailor local solutions to each crisis response
  • Coalition Government is building safer communities by driving local solutions for local needs

A $15.1 million Victorian Government investment over four years will change the way mental health, police and emergency services across the state work to respond to mental health crises in the community.

Minister for Mental Health Mary Wooldridge and Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Lucinda Nolan today announced the new Mental Health and Police Response (MHaP Response) funding for each of Victoria’s 21 Area Mental Health Services.

Funding for the initiative will be provided in the upcoming 2014/15 Victorian State Budget and will deliver a more targeted and timely response to a person needing urgent mental health support in the community, while also reducing pressure on police, ambulance and emergency department resources.

“We know that a large number of police and ambulance call-outs involve people in a critical state due to mental illness,” Ms Wooldridge said.

“Our new funding will allow mental health, police and emergency services teams to develop their own unique and local mental health crisis response.”

The MHaP Response draws on previous pilot projects in Bayside, Kingston and Glen Eira council areas as well as through Eastern Health, Alfred Health and Northern Health. These trials, variously known as PACER, NPACER or PARTS among others, brought mental health practitioners together with police to respond to a mental health crisis, rather than it escalating unnecessarily and involving an emergency department.

“Evaluations of the pilots found that people suffering an episode of mental illness were less likely to end up in the local emergency department and that police units could be released to other duties more quickly,” Ms Wooldridge said.

“Our investment provides dedicated funding across Victoria to establish a new locally-based coordinated mental health crisis response.”

This funding means that mental health professionals in each region will work with local police and ambulance personnel to tailor the crisis response to the local realities on the ground.

Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Lucinda Nolan said police welcomed the funding announcement.
“The commitment means we can continue to work with our health partners to provide specialist services, such as PACER units, to those people who need it most.

“It will allow us to tailor our service for those affected by mental health issues and their families, enabling us to provide timely and effective intervention,” Deputy Commissioner Nolan said.

These initiatives will ensure that people with a mental illness will receive the most appropriate and the least-restrictive care in a timely manner, minimising harm to the person and their family by being supported in their community.

This investment aligns with other reforms to front-line crisis support services underway including replacing the current Crisis Assessment Team (CAT) Guidelines with Acute Community Intervention Services (ACIS) Guidelines to reflect provisions of the new Mental Health Act from 1 July. These new Guidelines will be issued shortly.

 

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