Community mental health should not be excluded from the surge allowance. Today HACSU has written to Dan Andrews, Martin Foley, James Merlino, Steve Dimopoulos, Steve McGhie, and Anthony Carbines calling for expanding the COVID-19 surge support allowance.
After weeks of asking for clarification, we yesterday were informed that several key workforce groups — including community mental health — would be excluded from the allowance.
We welcomed this allowance, especially after working with Fiona Patten MP to ensure that allied health workers were included — and we continue to support its introduction. However, we are extremely disappointed to now find another workforce left behind.
Community mental health teams are on the frontline of the pandemic and have continued to work with high-risk consumers and clients since the pandemic began. Many have worked, and continue to work, with community members who have COVID-19 or are suspected of having COVID-19. They’ve worn full PPE and followed strict guidelines to keep helping Victorians throughout this crisis. Their work decreases both the severity and prevalence of hospitalisations — key work in a time when hospitals are overloaded and beds are full. They have had increases in workload and the corresponding increase in unsafe work and burnout, just like hospital-based staff.
The Royal Commission into Mental Health recognised the importance of community-based care and the difference it can make to the lives of Victorians.
We call for this allowance to be expanded, as we need a strong and well-supported mental workforce regardless of whether mental health care is being sought in an inpatient service or in the community.