State budget promises new LRH mental health hub

Victorian treasury officials lay out the 2022/23 state budget. photograph michelle slater

Michelle Slater and Jaci Hicken

Latrobe Regional Hospital is getting a new $6.5 million emergency department mental health hub as part of this year’s state budget that was handed down on Tuesday.

Yinnar Primary School will receive $7.3 million to carry out a long awaited building and stadium upgrade.

The budget is also delivering an overtaking lane on the Strzelecki Highway between Morwell and Mirboo North as part of a $101 million statewide regional roads upgrades package.

The new mental health hub will provide urgent treatment for people with mental health, alcohol and drug issues to relieve pressure on the hospital’s emergency department, to be delivered by 2024/25.

Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing was at LRH on Tuesday announcing the new hub alongside unveiling a new $3.6 million Truebeam Linac machine to treat cancer patients.

Ms Shing said the hub was being funded in line with the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s mental health systems.

She said the funding would provide staffing and triage in the hospital’s emergency department as well as specialised support for people with eating disorders.

“This will provide that opportunity to access tailored wraparound care and support for clients, patients and consumers of mental health services,” Ms Shing said.

“It will draw on the already exceptional staff expertise that exists here at LRH.”

The funding comes as this year’s health-focused budget is also providing training for 7000 new healthcare workers which includes 5000 nurses across the state.

LRH chief executive Don McRae said the new mental health hub would be developed adjoining the emergency department, with growing demand for mental health services at the hospital.

“This hub will allow us to be able to keep our flows through the emergency department and keep those patients safe and well cared for,” Mr McRae said.

“It means that we are providing state of the art best practice for the people of Gippsland, close to home, without having to travel outside the region.”

LRH mental health unit executive director Sebastiano Romano said the hub was a “fantastic opportunity” to look at the pathways for people coming through the emergency department.

“I think it will allow for a more coordinated approach, so a designated area is really important and being able to improve our triaging,” Mr Romano said.

“Actually having the space to sit down and do thorough assessments and communication and then also looking at safe spaces where consumers feel welcomed and supported.

“We know that emergency departments are really busy and the more space you can get in an emergency department is a bonus for consumers, as it gives them more opportunity to reflect, and feel supported during that journey.”