|2006 Vic Election - ALP mental health minister idea gets Baillieu nod|
|Written by Carol Nader and Mathew Murphy|
Carol Nader and Mathew Murphy
A MINISTER for mental health would be appointed in Victoria for the first time if the Bracks Government is re-elected.
Announcing the move yesterday, Premier Steve Bracks also pledged $129 million to create 168 more mental health beds.
The new minister for mental health would also take on responsibility for drug and alcohol services, in recognition that drug and mental health problems often co-exist. Mr Bracks indicated that an existing minister would expand his or her duties to take on the mental health role.
While acute mental health services are run by hospitals, the designated minister would have responsibility for those services, rather than the health minister.
Of more than 3000 people who spent at least 24 hours waiting on emergency department trolleys for a hospital bed last financial year, a significant number were waiting for mental health beds. Under Labor's package, mental health beds at Dandenong would almost double from 77 to 150, and at the Northern Hospital from 25 to 50.
Liberal leader Ted Baillieu said he would be "delighted" to have a minister for mental health.
"This is our issue of the time, the scourge of Western society. It's a plague and whatever we can