Member for Morwell, Russell Northe has described his reaction to a recent response from the Minister for Mental Health as “baffling” and “disappointing”. “I had previously written to the Minister in good faith, following community feedback and concern around Lifeline Gippsland’s desperate need for additional funding towards their crisis support line”, Mr Northe said, “but despite his previously welcoming comments, my request was completely dismissed by way of a ‘bureaucratic’ response letter”.
Hailing many positive comments from the public, Members of Parliament and the media, Mr Northe chose to use his last Question time in Parliament in September this year to call upon the Minister for Mental Health Mr Martin Foley, to increase Lifeline Gippsland’s funding by $135,000 per year. This would double the State Government’s contribution to the organisation that provides vital, life-saving telephone support to those who are most vulnerable to suicide in our community. This additional funding would be able to provide additional training to increase the number of crisis support volunteers, enhancing and expanding the Connect Call Back service, and implementing local face-to-face peer support groups for people at high-risk.
“I’m baffled”, Mr Northe said, “during Question time, the Minister for Mental Health responded that he would happily sit down with me to assist in making sure that we “land this goal” for Lifeline Gippsland. But the response I received this week indicated that this commitment was completely at odds with his initial comments”.
“The Government has said that it wants to invest in local solutions in responding to the critical issues of declining mental health and suicide indicators in regional Victoria, and they also say they aspire to halving the suicide rate by 2025”, Mr Northe said. “That’s a wonderful objective to have, yet despite hundreds of millions of dollars being pledged during this election campaign, $135,000 apparently can’t be found for a service that actually saves people’s lives.”
“I’m extremely disappointed that additional funding for Lifeline has not been committed to, and I call upon the major political parties to reconsider their positions and invest adequately in programs around suicide prevention.
If this article brings up any feelings of distress for you, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14