HOPES are resting on the state government’s Royal Commission into Mental Health after its talks in October last year.
Daniel Andrews announced the commission at the Kyneton Men’s Shed alongside Labor Member for Macedon Mary-Anne Thomas and hopes to address early intervention and better support for family members and mental health workers.
“Suicide and mental health conditions recognise no difference in background or bearing,” Mr Andrews said.
“It’s the leading cause of death for Australians aged between 15 and 44. Last year (2017) alone, we lost 621 Victorians to suicide.”
The enquiry will be the first of its kind in Australia, and work will begin within the government’s first 100 days.
“It will hear the stories of those who we have failed. It will find the answers we so sorely need. And it will save lives,” he said.
Kilmore’s Acting Senior Sergeant Michel De Araugo lost her nephew to suicide in 2002 when he was 17-years-old.
Ms De Araugo hopes the Royal Commission will lead to more awareness and accessibility for those in need.
“Many people can feel isolated because access if not available locally for people in Kilmore and Wallan – they need to travel to Shepparton for mental health services,” she said.
“Why would people who are in a desperate and vulnerable situation travel alone to a place they are not familiar with?”
Similar to the road toll numbers, Ms De Araugo suggested the media publicise suicide figures to highlight its significance within the community.
“Just like other accidents, suicide is very traumatic for everyone involved – they are very horrific scenes,” she said.
“Outlets like The Age and the Herald Sun need to start putting these figures alongside our road tolls.”
Neal Street Medical Clinic Dr Umair Masood believes the main problem that needs to be addressed with mental health is funding.
“With our population increasing and more people being diagnosed, patients with mental health issues are being pushed through the system quickly and not being looked after long term.”
“The commission needs to be aware of the issues and identify the need for more funding to look after these people.”
Ms Thomas understands the significance of mental health and the flaws within our system.
“Every year one in five Victorians experiences a mental illness, while the truth is our mental health system could be a lot better than it is.”