Your Questions Answered: The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System

November 25, 2021 @ 12:30 pm 1:30 pm

Join us TODAY, Thursday 25th November, from 12:30-1:30pm, for our webinar event which will further explore how farming communities can benefit from the findings from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.

The release of the Royal Commission report revealed 65 recommendations to reform Victoria’s mental health system, with the Victorian Government pledging $3.8 billion to help turn these recommendations into a reality. Of this budget, $700 million will be directed to rural and regional areas. But what does this really mean for rural farming communities?

To better understand what these recommendations mean for rural Victorians our acting director, Dr Alison Kennedy, is hosting a panel discussion to answer your questions about the challenges and opportunities highlighted in the report. These questions were asked by attendees of our first event exploring this topic, and are listed at the bottom of this page. If you believe we are missing a question, please let us know through the form below.

This event will be entirely interactive in a question and answer forum. You will be encouraged to share your questions and opinions on this topic with our panellists, who will discuss and answer them.

Dr Alison Kennedy will be joined by our esteemed panellists Dr Dom Baetens and Kelly Barnes.

Kelly Barnes – Creator and Founder of the Mates Dog School and the winner of the 2020 Victorian AgriFuture Rural Women’s Award. Kelly has lived experience and shared her experiences with the Royal Commission during the consultation stage of the inquest.  

 Dr Dom Baetens – Dr Baetens is the current Deputy Chief Psychiatrist at the Victorian Department of Health & Human Services. She has significant experience working in the Victorian mental health service, and brings keen insight into to opportunities presented by the final report. 

Each of our panelists brings a unique perspective to this important discussion, and we invite everyone to join the event by registering below.

Anyone with a question or opinion on the topic is encouraged to submit it ahead of time through the form below.

Submit your questions here:

Questions being answered tomorrow:

  1. The recommendations describe the development of eight regional mental health and wellbeing services. How will the location of these services be decided? Will it be based on servicing larger regional centres or will it also consider where strong service models already exist (e.g. locations that have been successful in attracting and retaining mental health professionals), even if they aren’t the biggest population centres? 
  1. Do you think that community led programs such as raising awareness of local services through community events, resilience / mental health training or bringing local people together to talk about mental health, make a difference in smaller rural communities? 
  2. Community members with lived experience (of life/work in a farming community as well as lived experience of poor mental health) can be great providers of mental health support in farming communities. However, people with lived experience don’t always have the formal training/skills to deliver this support, even if they would like to. Will the roll out of RC recommendations assist with building skills in those with lived experience? 
  1. Kelly, you have already drawn on your own lived experience to help support mental health in your communities. What formal training or support would help you to extend your work?  
  1. Digital and online services are not always accessible. Poor or lack of connectivity continues to be a problem more often in rural areas. Often people do not have access to suitable equipment to take advantage of the services (not the type of thing you want to do at the library) or have digital literacy / skill to access services. How will those implementing the recommendations of the RC work with other government departments/service providers to support improved digital access for farming communities wishing to engage with digital mental health services? Has there been any thought to supporting skills development to lift digital skills for individuals? 
  1. Service providers in farming communities already have intimate business relationships and possibly already have awareness of who might be experiencing mental health challenges. What are your thoughts on training service providers (e.g. agronomists, fuel agencies, stock agents) to support mental health in their community? How would this be most effective? 
  1. There is a tendency to focus our efforts on supporting people who are already experiencing poor mental health and this is naturally encouraged by campaigns like RUOK and Beyond Blue. While a focus on improving support is very important, what RC recommendations focus on prevention – putting strategies in place to stop people getting to a point where they need crisis support?   
  1. With the value of your lived experience, are there strategies/resources that you think may have helped prevent you from experiencing poor mental health? 
  2. During their community consultations, the Commissioners were very interested in the “case management” approach of the AGRISAFE program that focuses on physical and mental health in a holistic and ongoing way that is tailored to the needs of farmers. Would there be potential for funding provision to broaden this service across rural Victoria e.g. in bush nursing centres (Rather than a flying fly out service)?