Vic government opens public engagement on new mental health act

By Shannon Jenkins

June 15, 2021

Most public servants spent years playing around the edges with technology. (Adobe/Jason Bennee)

The Victorian government has invited public feedback on the development of a new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act, which mental health minister James Merlino says will be a ‘historic milestone’ for the state’s overhauled mental health and wellbeing system.

“The new act will transform the way we deliver treatment, care and support for Victorians with mental illness and psychological distress,” he said on Tuesday.

“This engagement is another step in rebuilding our mental health system.”

Public engagement on the act opened this week, and will close on July 4.

The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, which released its final report earlier this year, recommended the state government replace the current legislation by mid-2022.

It recommended the new act prioritise achieving ‘the highest attainable standard of mental health and wellbeing for the people of Victoria’, by:

  • Promoting conditions in which people can experience good mental health and wellbeing,
  • Reducing inequities in access to, and the delivery of, mental health and wellbeing services,
  • Providing a diverse range of comprehensive, safe and high-quality mental health and wellbeing services.

READ MORE: Victoria commits to establishing Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission

The state government has committed to implementing all of the royal commission’s recommendations, and has set aside $7.7 million to develop the new act.

Merlino said the legislation would recognise people with lived experience in system leadership, and the entities needed to ‘enable strong system accountability and transparency’, including the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission.

He said the act would support the royal commission’s aspirations for a mental health system that is accessible, provides a diverse range of high‑quality services, protects human rights, and reflects the views of people living with mental illness or psychological distress, families, carers and supporters.

The Department of Health will develop the new act, with parliament expected to consider it in the first half of 2022.

READ MORE: Victoria’s mental health system to receive $60m to tackle increased demand


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