The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath has criticised the Andrews Labor Government’s for ignoring mental health in regional and rural communities.
Ms Bath said it is incredibly disappointing that Gippslanders will not be granted the opportunity to
give evidence at the Royal Commission into Mental Health locally.
“Out of the 19 days of hearings only one will be held in a regional location, despite one third of Victorians seeking support for mental health services living in regional Victoria.
“It is disgraceful that the Andrews Labor Government is not granting regional communities equal access to give evidence in the Royal Commission into Mental Health.
“While community consultation has been undertaken regionally, it does not take the place of formal evidence provided at a Royal Commission hearing.
“Hearings form the primary evidence base for recommendations so it is imperative they represent the entire community.
“Centering evidence around Melbourne devalues the mental health needs and experiences of regional people and demonstrates the low regard Daniel Andrews has for people living outside of Melbourne.”
Ms Bath said she recently attended Royal Commission community consultation session in Warragul, supporting a local constituent.
“I listened to the heartbreaking personal accounts of local families struggling to support their loved ones as they try to navigate the flawed mental health system,” said Ms Bath.
“Families and mental health professionals including one psychiatrist all articulated the significant shortfalls and access challenges in Gippsland.
“The voice of Gippsland families and local on the ground professionals must be formally recorded and used in the Royal Commission.
“There are significant gaps in access to support for rural and regional Victorians, with people stuck on waitlists for months or forced to travel hundreds of kilometres to the next available service.
“The mental health of Gippslanders is a key health priority and once again our needs have been ignored by a city centric Premier who refuses to bring the parliament to the people.
“Mental illness does not discriminate by postcode and it certainly doesn’t stop at the tram tracks, Gippslanders must have a fair opportunity to give evidence and formally have their say.”