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An additional 140 fully-funded postgraduate mental health nursing scholarships in Victoria annually, is one of the recommendations made as part of the Victoria’s mental health royal commission’s interim report, which was handed to state government yesterday.

The additional scholarships more than doubles the existing number of scholarships currently on offer.

Other key recommendations from the report included:

  • Funding for an extra 120 mental health graduate placements each year;
  • An increase in mental health funding for an additional 170 adult and youth acute mental health beds within two years;
  • A new approach to investment;
  • Better support for Aboriginal Victorians and;
  • The development of a Collaborative Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing.

ANMF (Vic Branch) Assistant Secretary Pip Carew applauded the recommendations stating that this was a game-changing reform and was pleased to see that it was not more of the same.

“The unprecedented number of formal submissions and contributions indicates how widely and deeply the community is affected by mental health issues and a fractured system unable to cope.

“One in five Victorians experience mental illness and many more experience the impact, as family members and friends. So really it affects us all,” she said.

“The report also recognises that general nurses will have a vital role to play in identifying, supporting and referring people living with a mental illness,” said Ms Carew.

The Commission’s Chair Penny Armytage said that the interim report was not a draft report, but the first of two major reports by the Commission that represented a stocktake of what the Commission had learned so far.

“There is no question that the status quo must change. One thing we have heard very clearly is that we are in the midst of a mental health crisis, that the system is failing and not meeting the needs of those who need it most. This must change,” she said.

Ms Armytage said the Commission recommended the introduction of a whole new approach to investment to ensure a substantial and sustainable increase in mental health funding for future generations.

“The time has come to get the funding of mental health services right. This is essential to ensure we can deliver the reforms required to establish a contemporary and enduring mental health system.”

The Commission has received more than 8,200 contributions so far, including through consultations, roundtables, public hearings, surveys with more than 3,200 submissions from individuals and organsiations.