Department of Human Services: report 2012-13

Written on the 28 February 2014

Ms CROZIER (Southern Metropolitan) - I am pleased to speak on the annual report 2012-13 from the Victorian Department of Human Services.

In so doing, I note the foreword from the secretary of the department, Ms Gill Callister, and I commend her on the work she has undertaken and the issues she highlights, which outline major improvements in the department and work being done towards giving more of our community and those less fortunate or more vulnerable greater access to services.

I note that four ministers have responsibility in this area: Mary Wooldridge is the Minister for Mental Health, the Minister for Community Services, and the Minister for Disability Services and Reform; Wendy Lovell is the Minister for Housing; Ryan Smith is the Minister for Youth Affairs and Heidi Victoria is the Minister for Women's Affairs.

One of the areas highlighted in the report is Services Connect, which brings a range of services together, whether it be child protection, public housing, disability, youth justice, family violence, mental health or alcohol and drug services, providing an integrated response. It is about drawing on the best practice across the services and programs. Through an integrated approach this is an area in which the department is able to achieve great improvements in service delivery, and I commend the department and the various ministers on working together to enable that to occur.

I note in the secretary's foreword that:

Through partnerships across the youth, business and philanthropic sectors and directly engaging with young people, almost one in five young Victorians participated in one of our youth affairs programs in the last year.

That is a great indication of how some of the programs are working. I note that there are a number of challenges highlighted in the report, and an area on which I have spoken in the past is the ageing population, which will place more demands on this particular department, and those services will at times be challenged. The comparison between the situation now and in 15 years time highlights the issue of that ageing population. At page 4 the report states:

The population aged over 65 is expected to represent 19.5 per cent of Victoria's population by 2031, compared to 13.8 per cent in 2010. As the population ages, we are also likely to experience higher demand for services.
The government is focused on looking at those various challenges. In the area of mental health the minister has made that a priority for the government.

A range of initiatives and programs has been rolled out, and recently the minister highlighted a number of reform agendas, including reform to Victoria's mental health legislation, strengthening clinical mental health services, reforming community mental health support services, connecting mental health services with other health and human services -- as has been highlighted in this report -- broadening prevention and promotion, and boosting the specialist mental health workforce. Therefore some significant reforms are being undertaken in the area for which the minister has responsibility, and I commend her for undertaking those reforms and also for promoting and providing significant funding for that area.

There has been a record investment of $1.2 billion in mental health services in 2013, which represented a 20 per cent increase over three coalition budgets, which goes to the heart of what is needed here -- more funding in these relevant areas -- and the Services Connect service delivery will certainly assist those people who are vulnerable and suffer from mental health issues. I commend all those involved with putting this report together for providing very good information to the Victorian public.

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