The Andrews Labor Government is delivering the mental health services Victorians need, no matter where they live – with new acute mental health beds to give Wangaratta locals the care they need, as soon as they need it.

Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes today visited Northeast Health Wangaratta to announce the hospital will share in an investment of $35.5 million in the Victorian Budget 2022/23 to plan for and design a major redevelopment of its acute mental health unit, which will soon be able to care for 36 people at a time – an uplift of 16 beds.

Delivering on key recommendations of the Royal Commission, these new beds form part of the Labor Government’s investment in delivering or planning for 64 additional acute mental health beds in Shepparton and Ballarat alongside Wangaratta – so people can be treated and begin their recovery close to home with local support services.

Victorians with lived experience of the mental health system will be part of the design process for the new facilities – sharing their thoughts in design workshops to make sure the new services meet the needs of the people they serve – like the provision of safe, separate areas for women and other vulnerable consumers.

On top of this critical planning work, the Labor Government has invested heavily in the state’s north-east as part of the biggest ever reform to the state’s mental health system.

Walk-in mental health hubs are available for the whole community to get immediate – and free – care, support and referrals to other mental health services in Wangaratta, Wodonga and Shepparton.

By the end of 2022, the Labor Government will also deliver a Local Adult and Older Adult mental health service in Benalla, providing early intervention care to support the whole community, addressing mental health and wellbeing concerns before they become more serious and cutting waiting lists to see a mental health professional.

The Victorian Budget 2021/22 also delivered ongoing funding to the critical Hospital Outreach Post-suicidal Engagement (HOPE) services in Shepparton and Wangaratta – helping them deliver life-saving care, treatment and wraparound support to people in the region who have attempted suicide or experienced a mental health crisis.

Last year’s Budget also supported a brand-new HOPE service to expand this support to people living in and around Wodonga – ensuring no one in crisis in Victoria’s north-east is left behind.

Quotes attributable to Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes

Planning for these new mental health beds will make sure Wangaratta Hospital’s doors are open for anyone in crisis – slashing waiting times and making sure people get support and help as soon as they need it.”

“Our nation-leading reform of our state’s mental health system is well underway – with a consistent stream of new services, Victorians are starting to see our profound investments paying off in our state’s mental health.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Mental Health James Merlino

“For too long, regional Victorians have had to travel away from their family, friends and support networks to get mental health care. That stops with us – we’re investing to give people the care they need in their own communities.”