East Gippsland has been overlooked by the Andrews State Government as a location for one of the six priority sites for the Adult and Older Adult Mental Health and Wellbeing Services that are being rolled out from this week.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, said with all the region had endured in the past few years and a tragically high suicide rate, it should have been a priority site.
The services were a recommendation of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health Services.
“I will be interested to see the rationale behind the decision making, but I would have thought that under most measures, East Gippsland would qualify for the top six.
“While it is important the government acts quickly to implement the recommendations from the Royal Commission, the decision to only commit to six services being open in the next two years means some of the most vulnerable communities, like ours, face an even longer wait to get the services needed,” he said.
The six locations that have been identified are Benalla, Brimbank, Frankston, Greater Geelong, Latrobe Valley and Whittlesea.
“We have lost far too many people to suicide in our community and some of the most isolated communities in the state are in East Gippsland, which presents challenges to access services.
“On top of this, the government plans to introduce a mental health tax for all Victorians, regardless of whether adequate services are available in their area. This means our community will be forced to pay a tax for services they can’t access.
“I know the abovementioned communities are also in need, but in the prevailing circumstances of our geographical location, what we have endured of recent years and the suicide rate, we should be getting some priority attention,” said Mr Bull.
Anyone needing support can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.
Victorian local government areas with the highest rates of suicide, 2014 to 2018
Local government area Average annual rate per 100,000 people
Benalla (RC) 29.1
Indigo (S) 24.2
Buloke (S) 22.5
Hindmarsh (S) 20.0
Corangamite (S) 18.2
East Gippsland (S) 17.5
Yarriambiack (S) 17.2
Northern Grampians (S) 17.1
Mount Alexander (S) 17.0
Warrnambool (C) 16.8
Source: Parliament of Victoria Library