Tabled to the Victorian Government in State Parliament last month, the Auditor-General presented their access to mental health report.
In conclusion, the Auditor-General found the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) had done too little to address the imbalance between demand for, and supply of, mental health services in Victoria.
Forty-five per cent of Victorians will experience mental illness in their lifetime— equivalent to one in five Victorians, or 1.2million annually suffering from a mental illness.
This audit determined whether people with a mental illness have timely access to appropriate treatment and support services.
The report examines how the DHHS oversees the mental health system and whether it promotes increased accessibility through analysing DHHS’s mental health policies, strategies and plans, the data it collects and how this informs planning for funding, infrastructure and the workforce.
The Auditor-General made six recommendations to DHHS - all of which it accepted, though two have been accepted in principle pending the Royal Commission into Mental Health. These recommendations are:
■ Complete a thorough system map documenting its capacity, including capital and workforce infrastructure, geographical spread of services and estimated current and future demand, including current unmet demand.
■ Use this map to inform a detailed, public, statewide investment plan integrating service, capital and workforce planning; setting out deliverables and time frames.
■ Set relevant access measures with targets, which reflect the intended outcomes of the investment plan and routinely report on these internally and to the public.
■ Undertake a price and funding review for mental health services, which includes assessing funding equity across area mental health services, provide detailed advice to the Minister for Mental Health on the results and use this information to inform funding reforms.
■ Resolve the known catchment area issues of misaligned boundaries that prevent people from accessing services.
■ Re-establish routine internal governance and reporting against mental health system priorities, activities and performance that ensures senior executive level oversight and accountability.
Mental illness affects not only an individual’s wellbeing and quality of life, but also their physical health and engagement in employment, education and community. Mental illness also has flow-on effects to the human services, general health and justice systems.