Hot Issues in Mental Health

Progress in Mental Health Services

From The Minister for Mental Health

The Minister for Mental Health has provided the following information about progress in implementing recommendations of the Royal Commission into Mental Health, on the second anniversary of the report.

“2023 is shaping up to be a busy year. Some of our biggest priorities over the next 12 months include:

  • Being ready for our new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act – I’ve included some more information about this below, but we’ll be focusing on helping the sector prepare for new responsibilities and processes through training and resources.
  • New and expanded services – we’re continuing our work setting up more new Mental Health and Wellbeing Locals as well as working with our partners to further develop and expand community and bed-based services.
  • Helping the workforce to grow and develop – working on growing the available workforce as well as building the skills and capabilities of workers to deliver services in a safe and welcoming workplace.
  • Supporting a culture that embraces lived experience leadership across the mental health and wellbeing sector – empowering lived experience leadership at all levels of the system.

Towards the implementation of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022
One of the most significant transformation projects scheduled for this year is the implementation of the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022, due to commence on 1 September. A range of activities is underway to prepare the sector.

Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 – A new Q&A
Our new ‘Q&A’ aims to promote understanding of the Act and the activities underway to support implementation. We’ll start this series with a question about the broader goals the Act is trying to achieve. You can email your questions to

Q: ‘What does the new Act do?’
A: The new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 delivers on the Royal Commission’s vision for rights-based mental health and wellbeing laws which reflect the diverse needs of our communities and creates the structures that will hold government to account on providing a high-quality, compassionate public mental health and wellbeing system.

The new Act puts people with lived and living experience of mental illness and psychological distress, and their families, carers and supporters at the centre of the mental health and wellbeing system. It does this through the introduction of new rights-based objectives and principles and the inclusion of designated lived experience roles at the highest levels of new and existing governance and oversight entities.

It also establishes key elements of the new system architecture, including the Chief Officer for Mental Health and Wellbeing, statutory Regional Mental Health and Wellbeing Boards to provide advice on the planning and commissioning of services at the local level, the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission, a legislated opt-out non-legal mental health advocacy service and Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing Victoria.

The Act will ensure the legislative framework reach beyond merely authorising and regulating the use of compulsory treatment and restrictive interventions and enable a connected and coordinated system where people do not fall through the cracks and receive the treatment, care and support they need.

Please email your questions to

Collaborative Centre leads from lived experience  
The Collaborative Centre is celebrating its first major milestone with the formation of its inaugural Lived Experiences Advisory Panel (LEAP).

The ten people with lived and living experience of mental illness, psychological distress and substance use or addiction, including consumers, family members, carers, and supporters selected from 64 impressive applicants are:  

  • Caroline Lambert (Chair)  
  • Emily Unity (Deputy Chair) 
  • Georgia Barrand  
  • Robyn Callaghan  
  • Sam Hayward  
  • Jacqueline Margaret Kirkman  
  • Rohini Krishnapillai  
  • Lyanne Morel  
  • Puneet Sansanwal   
  • Benn Veenker 

Members have diverse backgrounds and a range of lived and living experiences, and their appointments were approved by the Collaborative Centre board at its 7 February meeting following a rigorous selection process.

The LEAP met for the first time on 28 February and will be instrumental in guiding the Collaborative Centre’s establishment, providing strategic advice to the board, executive leadership, and establishment team for the coming 12 months.

Find out more about the LEAP on the Collaborative Centre webpage.

Targeted consultations underway for the new access policy and triage guidelines
The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System found that mental health and wellbeing services need to be better connected and integrated with each other and with other service systems. It also emphasised that assessment and intake processes need to be more consistent and responsive to people’s support needs. 

In response to these findings, an access policy covering Mental Health and Wellbeing Locals, Area Mental Health and Wellbeing Services and Statewide Services is being developed. The new access policy will support consumers, families, supporters and carers to access the right services, when they need them, and in their own communities.

We will also be working with partners across the sector to update the triage guidelines used by public mental health and wellbeing services in Victoria. The refreshed guidelines will be appropriate for all age and cohorts and support matching of consumers to the right services, at the time they are needed.

Consultations commencing in March and April
We are conducting a range of targeted consultation activities in March and April 2023, including small group discussions, workshops and reflection and validation forums. These sessions will engage a wide range of consumers, family, carers and supporters, across age ranges and community groups.

Detailed discussions will also be held with organisations including peak bodies, government, health services, professional associations and non-government organisations.

If you would like to find out more about the project, visit the Health.Vic website or contact

Members appointed to Interim Regional Bodies
Victoria’s eight Interim Regional Bodies are now fully established, with members recently appointed in each region. 

The Interim Regional Bodies are the first step in a new approach to mental health and wellbeing across the state, placing communities across Victoria closer to decisions in their region.

Members were selected following a competitive expression of interest process, and bring a range of skills and experience, including community engagement and regional knowledge. 

Each Interim Regional Body includes members who have a personal lived and living experiences of mental illness or psychological distress and/or a lived and living experience as a family member or carer.

The Interim Regional Bodies will first focus on building trusted relationships with community and stakeholders within their regions and establishing strong community participation processes, including elevating lived and living experience perspectives. 

They will also assist and advise the Department of Health on the longer-term pathway to establishing Regional Mental Health and Wellbeing Boards through the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act.

The Interim Regional Bodies are currently planning for engagement activities with communities and stakeholders in their regions, and we will provide updates about upcoming engagement opportunities through this bulletin and via our online calendar of engagement opportunities.

You can find a list of chairs and members of each Interim Regional Body on the Health.Vic website.

New ‘Earn and Learn’ Workforce Program
The Earn and Learn Workforce Program is a new 12-month trial program in community mental health services. 

The program offers a unique pathway into the community mental health sector for 50 Mental Health and Wellbeing Trainees, while they study the Certificate IV in Mental Health. 

Providers have been selected to run the program, which aims increase the pipeline of mental health workers and support the development of a skilled and diverse workforce. The providers are: EACH, Mallee Family Care, Mind Australia, Star Health, Uniting Vic.Tas. and Wellways Australia. 

Trainees will be supported with workplace supervision, training and education. 
The program is a key part of Victoria’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Workforce Strategy 2021-24, which outlines a strategic approach to delivering the diverse, skilled and multidisciplinary workforce required for Victoria’s reformed mental health and wellbeing system. 

Recruitment is underway and trainees will start across services in March.

A shared vision and understanding of trauma-informed practice  
The Department of Families, Fairness and Housing has launched a new Framework for Trauma Informed-Practice to help people working with children and families to better understand and implement trauma-informed practice.  
It will also provide the Victorian community with further insight into what to expect from practitioners and services that support children, young people, families, and carers. 

The framework was developed following a targeted literature review, extensive consultation and collaboration with stakeholders, including those with lived experience of trauma.

It supports and aligns with strategic policy direction across legislative and practice reform relating to children, young people, families, and carers. The Framework also promotes and supports a shared understanding of what being trauma-informed means to a variety of people, from children and families to professionals and volunteers.

This framework is primarily targeted to the child and family services sector and family violence services. However, the framework can also be used to inform practice across other health and human services. We encourage you to share the Framework for Trauma-Informed Practice with your peers and network.

For more information and to view an explainer video, visit the Framework for Trauma-Informed Practice webpage.

Our Workforce, our future. A capability framework for Victoria’s mental health and wellbeing workforce
In December 2021, the department published the Victorian Mental Health and Wellbeing Workforce Capability Framework. A detailed document ‘Our workforce, our future. A capability framework for Victoria’s mental health and wellbeing workforce’ is due to be published in May 2023.

This more detailed version of the framework will include outcome statements, key knowledge and skills for the entire mental health and wellbeing workforce with additional areas for technical specialists and those in leadership roles.

Subject matter experts are currently reviewing each capability to ensure consistency with the evidence base and best practice.

The capability framework project team will soon be undertaking sector consultations to better understand the tools and resources that services need to implement the framework. The team will be contacting workforce development leaders to understand the resources currently available, what needs to be developed and the barriers the sector faces in the implementation process. These consultations will support the broader implementation plan.

Calendar of engagement opportunities

We’ve updated our online calendar of engagement activities for March and April.Visit our engagement webpage to find out about targeted and open engagement taking place in the next couple of months.

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