2022-23 VIC Budget Delivered
- Health and hospitals
- Mental Health
- Community healthcare
- Schools and early childhood education
- Older adults
“Our nurses, ambos, allied health professionals, doctors, and other healthcare workers have given so much to our state. They have been at the frontline of the coronavirus fight, and now we’re making sure they’re at the forefront of our Budget,” Hon. Martin Foley MP
“This budget doesn’t have the big spending initiatives of recent years, and actually cuts funding in some program areas,” Emma King, CEO, Victorian Council of Social Services
“This Budget is all about the three Ps: patients, participation and provincial. This is an election budget which delivers a major investment in health, education, skills, industry development and Regional Victoria,” Paul Guerra, CEO, Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
This year’s Victorian State budget is all about health, with a theme of ‘Putting Patients First’. The Treasurer’s speech in Parliament focused on the impact of COVID-19 and outlined investments across the health sector.
OTA will continue to highlight to government throughout the upcoming State and Federal elections the vital work of occupational therapists, including in the four key areas of mental health and wellbeing, aged care, primary care, and disability identified in OTA’s 2022 Election Playbook.
To access the State Budget Papers in full, go to https://www.dtf.vic.gov.au/state-budget/2022-23-state-budget.
Health and hospitals
As part of the Pandemic Repair Plan, the 2022-23 Budget invests more than $12 billion in the health system. This includes:
- $1.5 billion over four years to increase surgical capacity, providing 40,000 extra surgeries in the next year, building up to a total of 240,000 surgeries annually by 2024;
- $698 million over four years for the Better at Home program to continue the delivery of care in the home through home-based and virtual care models where clinically appropriate; and
- $124 million over four years for Ambulance Victoria to recruit new paramedics and improve ambulance performance time.
New major investments in health infrastructure include:
- $0.9–$1.0 billion to construct a new 24-hour public hospital in Melton in Melbourne’s West;
- $500–$525 million for the Barwon Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Geelong to expand maternity, women’s and paediatric services;
- $300 million for the Regional Health Infrastructure Fund to renew and upgrade regional and rural health services; and
- $236 million to expand the capacity of the emergency departments at the Casey Hospital and the Werribee Mercy Hospital.
In recognition of the strain on Victoria’s health workforce as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and workforce shortages, this budget invests:
- $4.8 million over 4 years to support the health and wellbeing of the Victorian health workforce, including expansion of Safer Care Victoria’s Healthcare Worker Wellbeing Centre;
- Funding for up to 7000 new health workers, including 5000 nurses and in addition to a previous commitment to support attraction of 2000 overseas-trained health professionals.
The mental health workforce has received particular attention, with $372 million over four years allocated to build the pipeline of workers required to deliver Victoria’s mental health reform agenda, in line with the Mental Health and Wellbeing Workforce Strategy. Initiatives include:
- New allied health and nursing graduate and transition positions, postgraduate scholarships and piloting new ‘earn and learn’ models for navigation and wellbeing support roles; and
- A clinical supervision training program to improve retention of senior allied health and nursing practitioners through improving the skills of supervising educators.
In keeping with the commitment to implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, this Budget commits $1.3 billion over four years for the mental health sector.
Key initiatives include:
- $54 million over four years to deliver care for people with a co-occurring mental illness and substance addiction in all Adult and Youth Area Mental Health and Wellbeing Services;
- $29.4 million over four years to implement mental health and wellbeing legislative reforms, including an independent review of compulsory treatment criteria;
- $20 million to support broader approaches to eating disorder care and support, such as an increase to 15 dedicated beds for Victorians with an eating disorder, funding a state-wide eating disorder strategy and expanding investment in existing programs;
- $10 million next year for the Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drug Facilities Renewal Fund to refurbish and reconfigure acute and community based mental health facilities to deliver recovery-oriented services for Victorians; and
- $5 million to plan the Victorian Collaborative Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing, a purpose-built facility established to lead research into new treatments and models of care and translate them into practice.
Key investments in mental health infrastructure include $218 million to operationalise 82 new beds across Victoria’s mental health system and $62 million for upgrade works at mental health facilities.
An investment of $175.5 million is allocated next year to scale down the COVID-19 public health response to transition from crisis response to a public health stewardship role to minimise harm and support Victorians who are most at risk.
This includes targeted outbreak management in high-risk settings, as well as testing and pathology costs and for support functions including data and intelligence, call centre operations, commissioning and legal capability.
This Budget also provides $244 million next year to continue support for patients in recovery from COVID-19 and support for the health system in continuing to address Victoria’s COVID-19 caseload. This includes establishing and expanding Urgent Care Centres, as well as continuing and expanding General Practitioner Respiratory Clinics and the COVID Positive Pathways program.
While the 2022-23 State Budget commits larger sums to acute settings, the role of community health in providing innovative, place-based models of care is recognised in a number of targeted initiatives. These include:
- $7.3 million over two years to strengthen community-based healthcare, including by increasing the delivery of services for people who have deferred care, and supporting the integration of general practitioners into 20 registered community health services; and
- $5.7 million next year to improve health access and outcomes for refugees and asylum seekers, including primary health care and mental health support services.
In addition to its contribution to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), the Victorian Government has committed $35.9 million over two years to support those who are not eligible for the scheme.
This funding will support programs and services such as the Office of the Public Advocate’s guardianship, investigation and support services and the Home and Community Care Program for Young People, which helps enable younger people who have difficulties with activities of daily living to maintain their independence and participate in the community.
The Victorian Government will also continue to support existing Victorian disability services’ clients who have not been able to transition to the NDIS.
A further investment of $15.2 million over two years has been earmarked for the State Disability Plan to improve accessibility and inclusivity of Victorian communities and facilities.
Schools and early childhood education
The 2022-23 Budget makes substantial investment in schools and education settings. Key initiatives to support young people with disability include:
- $326 million to upgrade 36 special schools across metropolitan and regional Victoria;
- $16.9 million over four years to assist children with significant disability or complex needs to participate in kindergarten through the Kindergarten Inclusion Support program; and
- $11.9 million over three years to make kindergarten facilities and activities more accessible for children with disability, including funding new ramps and sensory equipment.
To support student health, mental health and wellbeing, the 2022-23 Budget invests in the following initiatives:
- $11.4 million over four years to support additional school nurses and allied health services and maintain the Victorian student health and wellbeing strategy; and
- $41.4 million over four years to continue the LOOKOUT program to support engagement of vulnerable children and young people in out-of-home care; continue the Headspace initiative, which provides mental health counselling and training; and continue the mental health practitioners in secondary schools initiative in specialist schools.
Funding of $30.7 million next year is allocated to continue transport assistance through the Students with Disabilities Transport Program, supporting eligible students to attend their designated government specialist education setting.
Key investments delivered in this budget include:
- $32.4 million over two years for public sector residential aged care services to provide care to residents, including those with mental health issues, and assist in meeting staff ratios;
- $3 million next year for a range of social recovery programs for older Victorians and carers, including continuation of the reimagined Victorian Seniors Festival, COVID Safe live performances in aged care facilities and tailored employment support for carers; and
- $2.9 million next year to continue the Elder Abuse Prevention Network, addressing family violence for older Victorians and stopping it from happening.
Key investments delivered in this budget include:
- $2.8 million over two years for ex-service organisations to maintain facilities that are safe, accessible and fit-for-purpose for veterans and their families;
- $0.6 million over two years for a range of initiatives aimed at supporting veteran transition and wellbeing including supporting veterans to obtain a Recognition of Prior Learning certificate, removing a significant barrier for job seeking veterans; and continuation of the Returned and Services League Active program, which aims to reduce social isolation and improve veteran’s mental health.