The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System has released its Final Report which contains five volumes and 65 recommendations. The Royal Commission has created a once-in-a-generation roadmap for reform with specific ‘investment in and attention to the mental health and wellbeing of young people’. 

The recommendations include a complete redesign of services and specific recommendations which will ensure young people receive the best possible support wherever it is needed. The future mental health and wellbeing system will be restructured around a community-based model of care, where people access treatment, care and support close to their homes and in their communities. The new system will include six levels ranging from community and primary care through to ongoing and intensive treatment. 

A New System for Young People 

The Royal Commission has made two primary recommendations specific to young people:

  •  Recommendation 20 establishes by the end of 2022 a ‘dedicated service stream for young people’ consisting of the new ‘Youth Area Mental Health and Wellbeing Services ’. The recommendation requires that age boundaries be ‘applied flexibly by services in partnership with young people and their families, carers and supporters’. It is also recommended that the new Infant, Child and Youth Area Mental Health and Wellbeing Services ‘become the preferred providers of headspace centres where they exist or are established in Victoria’. 
  • Recommendation 21 calls for review, reform and implementation of new models of multidisciplinary care for bed-based services for young people. Every region will have a Youth Prevention and Recovery Centre for young people aged 16 to 25’ and a ‘new stream of inpatient beds across Victoria for young people aged 18 to 25’. Hospital in the Home services will also be made available to young people as an alternative to acute hospital-based treatment. 

These are some of the specific recommendations proposed by the Royal Commission and identified by young people as priorities for reform. 

Better Access, Regional Services and Co-Design 

  • The creation of four co-designed safe space facilities by and for young people to support provide a drop-in space and crisis response services. 

  • Better access to services regardless of a person’s location or circumstances, including services which respond to crisis 24 hours a day and seven days a week and an increase in funding to systematically integrate digital technology into mental health care. 

  • The development of Regional Mental Health and Wellbeing Boards who will commission mental health and wellbeing services, address workforce supply and better support rural and regional communities. 

  • Acknowledges the need to involve people with lived experience in the development and delivery of mental health services including a new agency led by people with lived experience of mental illness or psychological distress. 

Housing and Youth Justice 

  • Investment in a further 500 new medium-term supported housing places for young people aged between 18 to 25 who are living with mental illness and experiencing unstable housing or homelessness. 

  • Expanding specialist youth forensic mental health programs to a statewide model to provide treatment, care and support to children and young people involved in the youth justice system. 

Promotion, Suicide Prevention and Addressing Stigma 

  • Establishing a Mental Health and Wellbeing Promotion Office to promote good mental health and wellbeing and the prevention of mental illness. 

  • Funding and support for research organisations to design and create anti-stigma programs that will be delivered in a number of settings including schools and healthcare. 

  • A new approach to suicide prevention and response which includes communities, social services, education and community-based programs.  

Diverse Communities and Young Carers 

  • Improved access and services for diverse communities — including LGBTIQA+ people, culturally and linguistically diverse people and disabled people — by partnering with community-led organisations. 

  • Funding for a non-government organisation to co-design and expand the range of supports across Victoria for young carers and children and young people who have a family member living with mental illness or psychological distress. 

  • Resources for Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations to commission the delivery of culturally appropriate, family-oriented, social and emotional wellbeing services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people. 

  • Ongoing funding for Switchboard Victoria to deliver its Rainbow Door program, at scale, to support LGBQTIQA+ people to navigate and access the mental health and wellbeing system. 

YACVic will publish a full, detailed analysis of the recommendations in the next fortnight. 

You can register for our webinar next Wednesday on 10 March where we will be unpacking the Final Report in partnership with Orygen.