#329 Communications and Advocacy update
5 August 2021
Here’s an update on a few of the issues AMA Victoria is working on for members, including:
- Response to the Mental Health and Wellbeing Act: Update and Engagement Paper
- Authorising additional surge workforce to participate in Victoria's COVID-19 vaccination program.
Response to the Mental Health and Wellbeing Act: Update and Engagement Paper
AMA Victoria has provided a submission to the Victorian Department of Health in response to its discussion paper on the development of a new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act.
Upon review of the paper, we conveyed to the Department significant concerns on multiple levels. Our overarching perspective is that the proposed Act does not empower doctors to treat highly vulnerable, severely ill patients in the best way possible and that this sentiment is shared equally by doctors-in-training, psychiatrists and other specialists alike. Further, we noted that coupled with the burdensome compliance requirements mooted by the Engagement Paper, if the Mental Health and Wellbeing Act is implemented as proposed, the predictable result is that there will be further attrition in the mental health workforce.
We communicated to the Department that we believe that the proposals do not meet the Royal Commission’s recommendations about the objectives and principles of the new Act because:
- the whole-time frame is too hastily constructed
- the process to date has been totally lacking in expert psychiatrist and senior clinician involvement and urgently needs expertise from people with extensive practical experience in use of the Act
- any revised Act needs to provide genuine approaches and solutions to the challenges people face when they are at their most vulnerable with serious mental illness, not just a principles-based approach divorced from a practical understanding of the depth of challenges involved in utilising such legislation.
We also noted that we would have been pleased if these proposals lived up to what the Royal Commission was meant to achieve. However, we informed the Department that this can only occur if the Department genuinely take the time and the depth of consideration to develop a Mental Health Act that involves proper involvement of the profession and consideration of all approaches.
Moreover, we relayed that funding, patient environments, resources, training, staffing and practices should all be developed before making drastic changes to existing legislation. Further, we noted that in the context of systemic underfunding, limited staffing and people leaving the system, overly idealistic principles-based proposals only add to the damage and create new difficulties and impact negatively on the care that patients receive.
If you would like a copy of our full submission, please contact Senior Policy Adviser, Lewis Horton, at LewisH@amavic.com.au
Authorising additional surge workforce to participate in Victoria's COVID-19 vaccination program
On 21 February 2021 the Department of Health authorised a number of workforces to prepare and/or administer the COVID-19 vaccine as part of the Victoria’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program.
In response to the significant increase in supply of the COVID-19 vaccine expected later in 2021, the Department is now proposing to authorise a number of additional emergency authorised surge workforces to support the expanded program.
These include dentistry, oral health, allied health, pharmacy, nursing/midwifery, paramedicine, laboratory science and research and technician workforces.
The Department has developed a consultation paper detailing the additional workforces proposed to participate in the expanded program and the scope of the proposed authorisation. The paper can be accessed here.
AMA Victoria is keenly interested in the views of members on whether we should support the proposed changes detailed in Section 4 of the paper. If you would like to contribute towards our response, please send your feedback through to Senior Policy Adviser, Lewis Horton, at LewisH@amavic.com.au by Sunday 15 August.