MORE REGIONAL JOBS AT RISK AS MENTAL HEALTH FUNDS CUT

Posted on 18. May, 2012 in Victoria

Even more jobs are likely to go from regional communities, after the Baillieu Government confirmed funding cuts to community health services, the Opposition Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Wade Noonan, said today.

Mental Health Minister, Mary Wooldridge, confirmed at a budget estimates hearing that community mental health service providers would need to absorb funding cuts.

She also failed to rule out cuts to staff or programs as a result of the Baillieu Government’s decision to reduce the rate of indexation payments to community based mental health services.

“There are 48 community mental health service providers across regional Victoria that will have to make decisions about whether to cut staff or programs – or both,” Mr Noonan said.

“In real terms, this decision will reduce the overall funding to psychiatric, disability and rehabilitation support services by $1 million each year over the next three years.

“When asked to guarantee that community mental health services would not be cut, the Minister simply indicated that it would be left to the CEOs and Boards to make those decisions.”

Mr Noonan said the Baillieu Government used the 2012-13 State Budget to reduce the level of indexation payments from 3.14 per cent to just 2 per cent for the next three years. Indexation payments are predominantly used to pay wage costs.

“Our regional mental health services do an outstanding job, but these cuts will place pressure on them to deliver more with less,” Mr Noonan said.

“The Baillieu Government’s decision to cut funding to community mental health services will leave some of our most vulnerable citizens without support.”

“We should be strengthening our mental health services, not squeezing them dry.”

The 2012-13 State Budget papers also revealed that the Baillieu Government is going to miss their target to transfer emergency patients to a mental health bed within eight hours, by a full 10 per cent.

“In 2011, more than 230 mentally ill patients waited longer than eight hours in Victoria’s regional hospitals for a bed,” Mr Noonan said.

“Ms Wooldridge must outline her Government’s plan to turn this situation around. People with a mental illness will simply regress unless they receive the appropriate clinical treatment and support they need. The Baillieu Government is taking our mental health services backwards.”

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