Collaboration • Knowledge • Leadership

Collaboration • Knowledge • Leadership

CEO addresses historic AOD and mental health conference

19
Jul, 2022

In her first public appearance as Mental Health Victoria CEO, Marcelle Mogg has addressed a historic gathering of AOD and mental health professionals.

The following is an edited transcript of MHV CEO Marcelle Mogg’s address at Working Better Together: A shared vision for AOD and Mental Health

This joint mental health and AOD service providers conference was hosted on 18 July 2022 by the Victorian Alcohol And Drug Association (VAADA) in partnership with Mental Health Victoria.

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I am pleased to join you today as the incoming CEO for Mental Health Victoria, and take this opportunity to renew our deep and longstanding commitment to work in partnership with VAADA and the AOD sector. 

Our partnership with VAADA in sponsoring today’s conference reflects the vital need for AOD and mental health services to work together, to realise effective and sustainable services to the community.

Mental Health Victoria is the peak body for mental health and wellbeing in Victoria. Our aim is to ensure that people living with mental health issues can access the care they need, when and where they need it. 

Our vision is for a mental health and wellbeing system that: 

  • involves people with lived and living experience, including families, carers and supporters, addressing the issues which affect their lives
  • provides tailored, high-quality support to people with regard for their care needs and life stage 
  • wraps around a person, ensuring all of their needs can be met
  • is easily navigated, providing continuity of care
  • is outcomes-focused
  • is adequately and sustainably resourced to meet current and future needs including demand

In order for Mental Health Victoria to realise this vision, we recognise the vital role played by AOD services in supporting people living with mental health issues and people experiencing addiction. 

We know we cannot realise our vision for integrated, person-centred care without adequately resourced and sustainable AOD services playing their critical role.

To this end, we congratulate the Department of Health on the release of the Integrated Treatment, Care and Support Guidance (the Guidance), and associated Workplan: Integrated Treatment, Care and Support (the Workplan) .

At MHV we recognise that people with co-occuring needs must be able to access treatment, care and support that is integrated across all mental health, AOD and wellbeing services. 

The release of the Guidance and Workplan represent an important milestone for the sector as we work towards achieving the Royal Commission’s recommendations (Recommendations 35 and 36) for integrated treatment, care and support, ensuring that integrated treatment care and support are embedded across a wide range of reforms.

We look forward to continuing to work with the Department of Health and mental health and AOD service providers to ensure a seamless implementation of the objectives of Recommendation 35.

MHV also looks forward to working with Turning Point as Victoria’s new Statewide Specialist Service for people living with mental illness and harmful substance use or addiction (Recommendation 36). 

Mental Health Victoria looks to play our part in realising the goals of Recommendations 35 and 36, through:

  • Ensuring the objects of the Workplan and Guidance flow through, and intersect with, all mental health reforms
  • Consulting with the AOD sector on a broad range of mental health reforms that may impact or relate to AOD workers 
  • Addressing current and ongoing challenges in both the mental health and AOD sectors holistically. 

Of particular concern to Mental Health Victoria are the current and substantial workforce challenges faced across the mental health and most particularly the AOD sector, where challenges of worker wellbeing, recruitment and retention are immediate and critically impacting day to day service provision. 

We know that demand for AOD services, critical prior to the advent of COVID, has increased markedly.

As of December 2021, sector surveys reveal (VAADA): 

  • A rise in daily waitlists for treatment from 2,385 people (Sept 2020) to 4,088 people 15 months later, representing a 71.4 per cent increase in the number of people waiting for treatment
  • 70 per cent of AOD agencies report an increase in the prevalence and severity of alcohol related presentations, with a concurrent 57 per cent reduction in capacity to meet demand during 2020/21
  • A need for an additional 243 EFT simply to meet current demand in Victoria

The current crisis faced by AOD services has been exacerbated by the recent cessation of the COVID 19 Workforce Initiative Funding which supported the engagement of 100 AOD workers.

The cessation of this funding will increase demand for voluntary treatment by the most complex client groups.

Escalation in demand in this part of the sector will in turn increase pressure on the forensic waitlist, creating additional demand for clinicians and allied workforce.

The conclusion of COVID 19 Workforce Initiative Funding has immediate impacts on access to treatment, support and care across the community. 

Cessation of this funding has led to immediate impacts on waitlists for voluntary treatment, care and support, with a knock-on impact for forensic services.

This means that agencies are pushed to meet immediate need with little resource available for allied and ancillary services. 

At MHV, we recognise we cannot realise good mental health and wellbeing without a sustainable and effective AOD sector.

Addressing the current AOD and mental health workforce challenges is an urgent priority that cannot be deferred while work on future reform takes precedence.

The identified AOD workforce shortages particularly must be addressed as an immediate and urgent priority to ensure access to care, recognising the significant increases in volume and complexity of demand for AOD services across the community.

We cannot work towards reform of the sector while the foundations crumble beneath us.

We need an AOD workforce strategy that addresses immediate staffing shortages arising from significant increases in demand, and a plan to support our services and clients as we work towards the realisation of the integrated care model proposed by the Royal Commission.  

The RC reforms have the potential to improve outcomes for people living with mental illness and substance use or addiction. For these reforms to be successfully implemented, we must focus on our existing AOD workforce challenges, our mental health workforce challenges, and to then focus on integrated care. 

MHV looks forward to partnering with Government, AOD and mental health service providers, and those with lived and living experience, as we look to realise integrated care that is available to all Victorians when and where they need treatment, care and support.

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