Executive Director of Orygen Professor Patrick McGorry AO has stated that unless something is done quickly by the Victorian Government to address the urgent issues facing our mental health sector, “We won’t have a system to reform because it is falling apart.”
HACSU is today echoing this call, demanding meaningful investment in the mental health workforce.
The mental health sector has been at breaking point for years. The system is underfunded, under-resourced and overstretched. We’ve seen a 30% increase in demand on all mental health services due to the ongoing knock-on effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and no meaningful changes to help the workforce deal with this increase.
Our members are on the frontline of the ‘shadow pandemic’ of mental health. The Victorian Government’s response has not been enough. They are still dragging their feet when it comes to offering the workforce an agreement that acknowledges their life-saving work.
Professor McGorry also commented on the issues the workforce is continually facing around exhaustion and burnout. A recent HACSU study revealed that over a third of the workforce is considering leaving mental health for other work. Unless an immediate plan is put in place by the Victorian government, the workforce pool will continue to shrink. The first step the Victorian Government needs to take to address these issues is to listen to the claims that the mental health workforce brought to them 18 months ago.
To reject HACSU members’ claims is to dismiss findings of the Royal Commission into Mental Health, including the report’s recommendations of measures to attract and retain staff, the need for incentivization and the implementation of a stronger workplace safety strategy. HACSU applauds the landmark $869 million investment into the mental health sector and the promise by Premier Daniel Andrews to implement every single recommendation. However, we need immediate action to relieve the pressure on our buckling mental health workforce and to support the Royal Commission recommendations.
After 18 months of bargaining, HACSU’s Protected Action Ballot has opened at Monash Health, The Royal Children’s Hospital and Mildura Base Public Hospital. This comes after a disappointing offer was made to the Victorian mental health workforce, which did little to demonstrate that the Victorian Government values our mental health workforces. These members will join 15 other Area Mental Health Services taking industrial action across the state.
Protected action also continues at all public mental health services inclusive of Albury Wodonga Health, Alfred Health, Austin Health, Ballarat Health Services, Barwon Health, Bendigo Health Care Group, Eastern Health, Forensicare, Goulburn Valley Health, Latrobe Regional Hospital, Melbourne Health, Mercy Health, Peninsula Health, South West Healthcare and St Vincent’s Hospital and all Headspace services.
Addressing the insufficiencies in the sector must start with meaningful investment in the workforce.
Quotes attributable to HACSU State Secretary Paul Healey
“The mental health system is held together by a very thin line of mental health workers. The Andrews government has shown complete disregard, verging on contempt for these workers who are looking after Victoria’s most vulnerable.”
“The mental health workforce is passionate and dedicated to their work. They continue to be understaffed and overwhelmed by the workload and the insulting EBA offer does nothing to show that they are valued by this government.”
Stephanie Thuesen – Communications, Projects, and Political Liaison Officer, 0436 363 612 / firstname.lastname@example.org