Pop-Up Mental Health Centres – Ministerial Response

Scroll down for the Minister’s response, or click here to discover more about how we’re working for Wendouree.

Original constituency question from Juliana Addison MP to Parliament –

My constituency question is for the Minister for Mental Health.

The past 18 months have been challenging for many Victorian individuals and families due to the global COVID pandemic. I am incredibly proud of the response of our government in delivering additional mental health programs to support Victorians struggling with the impact of the pandemic.

Our recently announced $22 million COVID-19 mental health and wellbeing response package, which includes a focus on free, accessible and local mental health pop-ups, is an example of this response, and I am pleased that one of the sites is located in my electorate of Wendouree.

This service is already up and running only weeks after being announced, and I commend Uniting, in partnership with Ballarat Health Services, for their phenomenal work on this.

Minister, would you please provide further information on how this clinic will support and benefit Ballarat community members?

Importantly, I encourage anyone in my community who is seeking support for their mental health to reach out for assistance.

Response from the Hon James Merlino, Deputy Premier, Minister for Education, Minister for Mental Health, Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers (3rd Nov 2021) –

Thank you to the Member for Wendouree for her question in relation to the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the programs for Victorians who need mental health and wellbeing support in the Wendouree electorate, and Ballarat local area.

The Andrews Labor Government is not wasting a moment in getting started with implementing the huge reforms recommended by the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, released in March 2021. This 10-year reform program will truly transform the way mental health and wellbeing services and organised and delivered across Victoria and the 2021-22 Victorian State Budget commits a record $3.8 billion towards this important work.

We also know the COVID-19 pandemic has increased demand for additional supports, so we are investing to make sure more Victorians have access to local support they need right now, delivered close to home. For the past 18 months, the Government has worked to increase access to vital mental health services and support, including committing $247 million to expand existing services and facilities as well as fast-track new ones.

With the Delta outbreak continuing, more people have been reaching out for mental health support – some for the first time. To respond to this need, I announced on 14 September an additional $22 million to deliver new community-based mental health services, and to increase the capacity of key mental health services to support their communities.

With this funding, we are rolling out 20 new pop-up community mental health services across metropolitan and regional Victoria. These services will deliver free wellbeing checks and counselling to people in their own communities, reducing the need to travel to get support. The pop-up centres will be delivered by community mental health providers and appointments are able to be made directly via the Partners In Wellbeing referral helpline, who are also providing telehealth wellbeing support.

Uniting (Vic Tas) — a trusted community service provider—is being funded directly to deliver the additional mental health wellbeing checks and counselling as part of the pop-up community mental health services in Ballarat and the Grampians Region. Uniting (Vic Tas) will work with partners including GPs, local hospitals like Ballarat Health Services, Area Mental Health and Wellbeing community services, Homelessness Services, Alcohol and Drug treatment services, the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme), online programs, and other community services critical to meeting the needs of the community.

We look forward to further reforms in the mental health and wellbeing system to encourage people to access support sooner and closer to home, with local services like this.