My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Mental Health. It is about yet another set of difficulties with cross-border arrangements between Victoria and New South Wales, this time in relation to the memorandum of agreement on mental health signed by the two states in 2011.
It is bad enough that this agreement refers to the Victorian Mental Health Act 1986 instead of its replacement act of 2014, but the problems run much deeper. I do not have time in an adjournment to remotely do justice to all of them. However, I will say they are particularly manifest in the inconsistency of the application of orders, especially assessment and community treatment orders.
Another critical question about the cross-border arrangement is why the block funding from New South Wales, to the best of my knowledge, has not increased for around a decade now. As it is, there is already a stark imbalance in Victoria between the demand for and supply of mental health services and infrastructure, including insufficient resourcing for primary mental health care, and these problems are actually increasing given that the call on mental health services has continued to grow very substantially across Victoria over recent years. Accordingly, we surely cannot let the system be further compromised by the persistence of nagging issues stemming from a cross-border agreement. We literally cannot afford their continuation.
The action I therefore seek from the minister is that he clarify whether the effectiveness or otherwise of the cross-border mental health agreement will specifically be examined as part of the current Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System. If not, I would like him to explain in his reply what the government will do and when to correct the range of inconsistencies in the treatment of mental health patients across the respective sides of our border with New South Wales.
In a broader sense, I would also like to know what the government is doing independently of the royal commission to address the need for planning and spending improvements across the full Victorian mental health system. I ask this especially in light of the Auditor-General’s March 2019 report, Access to Mental Health Services. In this report, it was found that a longstanding lack of sufficient system-wide investment, planning and monitoring has seen Victoria fall well behind other jurisdictions in terms of mental health funding and infrastructure and the proportion of our population that is adequately supported.