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Lengthy delays put community safety at risk

Critical projects to expand Victoria’s forensic mental health services have suffered extensive delays, meaning desperately needed mental health beds for prisoners or people at risk of offending are not available.

This week in Parliamentary Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC), the Committee heard that critical projects to expand capacity in forensic mental health services have not been delivered in 2019-20 as promised by Labor.

Forensic mental health services provide assessment and treatment of people with a mental disorder and a history of criminal offending, or those who are at risk of offending.

Critical shortages of forensic mental health beds have plagued the Andrews Labor Government.

It’s now up to two years wait to serve custodial sentences in a forensic mental health facility with up to 20 people on the waiting list.

The Committee heard that three key projects in the critical area of forensic mental health have been significantly delayed and were not delivered in 2019/20 as promised:

  • Forensic Mental Health Bed Based Services Expansion
  • Forensic Mental Health Implementation Plan – Priority Service Reforms Footscray
  • Thomas Embling Hospital 10 bed infill and SPICU

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Mental Health, Emma Kealy:

“Under the Andrews Labor Government, Victoria’s forensic mental health system has been significantly underfunded and suffered a critical shortage of beds, meaning violent offenders with mental illness cannot be housed in the safe and specialised facility they need.”

“This is yet another example where Labor have demonstrated they are unable to deliver projects on time or on budget.”

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