2 March, 2021
There is a real sense of urgency around getting mental health services in place, close to home, in outer urban growth areas around Australia. The prominence of mental health problems in young people is a big concern for growing communities in the outer suburbs with their high proportion of young families. The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System presented its final report today, and it highlights issues that are felt in the growth areas of Melbourne – as well as growth areas around Perth, Adelaide and Sydney. The challenge in growth areas is that the social supports and infrastructure the Report identifies as necessary, don’t arrive until many years after the people do.
The Report talks about overhauling Victoria’s entire mental health system. We would love to think that hand in hand with that work is serious consideration of how we plan and design new suburbs so that the support structures that people need are built at the same time as the houses. The lag time between population growth and the health services being delivered, is evident in all states and we need better forward planning for new communities in growth areas.
The Report contains 65 recommendations to transform Victoria’s mental health system. Of particular interest to growth areas are the recommendations on creating new structures to support a sustainable mental health and wellbeing system; ensuring that treatment, care and support are available and accessible; and redesigning services to move from a crisis-driven model to a community-based one.
In Melbourne’s outer suburban areas, where more than a quarter of Victoria’s population lives, mental health services are currently woefully inadequate. Mental health services have not kept pace with the approximately 60,000 people moving to new developments every year in Melbourne.
Planning is key
Young people are adversely affected
An early years focus is important
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