The Victorian Greens have welcomed the interim report released by the Royal Commission into Mental Health today, but are disappointed that is doesn’t address the significance of housing in greater detail.
Lack of stable housing is a strong predictor of mental illness relapse and mental illness often contributes to homelessness. A strengthened mental health system will be undermined by the chronic shortage of social housing (public and community housing), unless this is also addressed.
Last year alone over 500 people were discharged from acute mental health care into rooming houses, motels or other inadequate accommodation.
Despite this, Victoria spends half as much as the rest of the country on social housing. Just 3.5 per cent of our housing is social housing, lower than the national average and lower than the rate ten years ago.
Victorian Greens spokesperson for health, Dr Tim Read, said that while the interim report acknowledged the state’s lack of public housing, it did not make specific recommendations.
He added that the Government needed to stop selling off public housing land if it was serious about improving our mental health system and addressing homelessness.
Dr Read also welcomed the recommendation for greater funding to address the critical shortfalls identified in the interim report.
Quotes attributable to Victorian Greens spokesperson for health, Dr Tim Read:
“People with mental illness often relapse when they become homeless. And mental illness often pushes people out of their home. Public housing is therefore a critical part of mental health care.
“Victoria needs to ensure that people in need are provided with permanent housing without conditions, along with access to appropriate mental health and other services.
“The interim report is an important step towards fixing our mental health system, but it leaves a gap when it comes to housing.
“And while we wait another year for the final report to be tabled, those most in need of both housing and mental health care will be left by the wayside.”