The Royal Commission has provided us with a once in a generation opportunity to accelerate improvements in access to mental health services, service navigation and models of care.  Eastern Health welcomes the opportunities this process will provide the mental health sector to further improve services.  We are committed to being fully cooperative and transparent in responding to requests of the Commission. 

In February 2019 the Mental Health System was described by many as ‘broken’ and failing to support those who needed it most.  Throughout 2019 and 2020, the Commission extensively engaged with people with a lived and living experience of mental illness, their families, carers and supporters, mental health workers, researchers, service providers and others.  Powerful contributions were heard from people with lived and living experience who shared personal experiences about how the system has failed and sometimes even harmed them. Eastern Health welcomed the opportunity to be part of the process. 

The major themes emerging from the Royal Commission’s engagement and research: 

  • The system is overwhelmed, unable to keep up with the number of people seeking treatment 
  • Investment is inadequate and the workforce is under-resourced 
  • There are clear gaps in the system: 
  • Community-based services are lacking 
  • There is a ‘missing middle’ – people have needs that are too complex or too severe to be met through seeing a GP or private psychologist/psychiatrist but not severe enough to meet the criteria for entry into specialist mental health services 
  • The system is crisis-driven where hospital Emergency Departments are used as entry points. 
  • Accessing services can be difficult: 
  • Wait periods are lengthy and people become more unwell, before they can get help 
  • Poverty and disadvantage make access harder
  • Access is worse in regional and rural areas where suicide rates and workforce shortages are higher in these areas 
  • There are barriers to care for people from diverse communities and social groups – including Aboriginal people, LGBTIQ+ people, refugees, asylum seekers, people from culturally diverse backgrounds and people living with disabilities  
  • The system is out of balance compared with what we know works and is needed: 
  • There is an over-reliance on medication, use of restraint, seclusion and compulsory treatment 
  • There is a lack of focus on therapeutic strength-based treatments 
  • People are not involved in making their own decisions about their treatment, care and support 
  • Families, carers and supporters feel left out and are not receiving appropriate support 

To address these identified gaps, the Royal Commission made 65 recommendations to transform Victoria’s Health Service, which will be implemented over a ten-year timeframe.

The final report can be found at Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System – final report |