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Mental health probe

Mental health probe

Gippslanders urged to contribute to mental health reform

Gippslanders wanting to share their experiences with Victoria'a mental health system are being urged to register for consultation sessions for the Royal Commission into Mental Health.

Sessions will be held later this month: in Sale on Tuesday 21 and in Warragul on Wednesday 22 May.

Gippsland South MP Danny O'Brien said the Royal Commission has been established to understand the shortcomings in the current system so that improvements can be made.

“It’s vital that our regional voices are heard so that solutions can be found to improve access to mental health support in our area," Mr O'Brien said.

People wanting to contribute to the Royal Commission to register for the consultation sessions being held in Sale on Tuesday, May 21 and Warragul on Wednesday, May 22.

The new Royal Commission portal allows people to share their views through a written submission, an audio submission or a video recording. Submissions can be short, or more formal, longer pieces.

To access the portal or register for the Royal Commission’s consultation sessions in Sale and Warragul, visit

If you or someone you know is in crisis or requires support, call Lifelife Gippsland on 13 11 14 or BeyondBlue on 1300 224 636.

Among those to make a submission will be Gippsland-based mental health advocacy group BARRIER BREAKERS. More below.

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A Gippsland-based mental health advocacy group said it intends to highlight deficiencies in Victoria's prison system in a submission to the Royal Commission into mental health.

The decision by Barrier Breakers comes after an Obudsman's report revealed that more than two-thirds of the state's prisoners are suffering from mental illness.

Barrier Breakers chairman Dr Jamie Hogan said “This alarmingly high number of mentally ill inmates is one of the most serious problems our communities have encountered since the deinstitutionalisation of our mental health system.”

“When mental hospitals were closed, there has been a failure of governments of all political persuasions, to provide ongoing and supported accommodation for people with chronic mental illness.”

“Consequently, far too many unfortunate souls have ended up in prison where it costs the taxpayer around $130,000 a year to keep a prisoner in jail.”

Dr Hogan said people with mental health issues need to have them treated before they act in a criminal or anti-social way, beyond their control.

“If mental hospitals were considered to be institutions, what do they call prisons?” Professor Hogan asked.

“While no one can deny that there has been many reforms of the state’s mental health system over the years, very little has been done to provide safe, affordable and supported accommodation for people with long-term mental illness.”

“Barrier Breakers has demonstrated by its Traralgon project that by providing supported accommodation that is safe, affordable and supported by outreach services, homeless people with a mental illness can be housed and supported at a fraction of the costs of prison incarceration.”

“Given that around 85 percent of all homeless people have a mental illness, this really is an urgent challenge that must be met.”

“We intend to highlight this great need in our submission to the Royal Commission,” Professor Hogan concluded.

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