2021-22 Victorian Budget

Posted on 24 May 2021
By Tegan Carrison, Executive Director, AAPi

Victorian Budget Released- Historic Mental Health Investment

Victoria announced their 2021-22 State budget on Thursday, with a historic and commendable commitment to improving mental health care in Victoria. The Victorian Government announced a record $3.8 billion to improve and reform the mental health care system. A new tax for 'big business' will help to fund this landmark investment. This financial commitment to improving mental health in large part can be attributed to the Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health Care system as well as the current pandemic and the incredible work of all those delivering mental health services during this incredibly tough period. Mental health is now truly at the forefront of government and community agenda. AAPi will continue to work with the government, media and key stakeholders to ensure that ALL psychologists are represented.

Key Investments:

  • $954 million to deliver community-based care.
  • $370 million to increase mental health beds and provide better acute care.
  • $264 million for new services for adults and older adults.
  • $196 million for a dedicated system for infants, children and families.
  • $173 million for suicide prevention and response – including support for Hospital Outreach Post-suicidal Engagement (HOPE) program.
  • $116 million to support the mental health and wellbeing of Aboriginal Victorians.
  • The Victorian government is predicting this investment will create 3,000 new mental health care jobs.

The positives 

  • There is a lot to like about this budget.
  • Victoria is helping to shape the national agenda towards prioritising mental health.
  • A government has implemented recommendations from a Royal Commission rather than just shelving the recommendations or setting up another inquiry into the recommendations. Well done Victoria.
  • The sheer level of investment into mental health care and attempting to fix systemic issues is absolutely commendable. Especially as the health system is a mix of state and federal funding.
  • An innovative way of funding the necessary investment.
  • A focus of prevention and early intervention.
  • Emphasis on important settings such as workplace and schools.
  • A balance of prevention, early intervention and crisis support.
  • Incentives for rural and remote practitioners.
  • Extra support for communities most in need.
  • Social welfare and justice initiatives included.


  • AAPi is concerned that similar to the federal government, Victoria has committed a prodigious amount of funding to mental health hubs. There is currently insufficient evidence for this level of investment. AAPi would prefer the government adequately funds private practice mental health care. We believe investment in private practice has the ability to reach more clients, is more immediate, sustainable and cost efficient.
  • We would like more funding for schools, specifically more funded positions for school psychologists and programs.

What AAPi is doing

AAPi will continue to work with State and Federal Governments, stakeholders and media to advocate for our members and improving access to the expert mental health care that psychologists provide.

Full Budget Breakdown

Acute Mental Health 

  • $5.1 million to establish a new intensive 14-day support program for those experiencing psychological distress.  
  • Implement Hospital Outreach Post-suicidal Engagement (HOPE) program State-wide. Ongoing funding for 9 HOPE sites in Melbourne and regional areas and $16 million to establish 4 new HOPE child & youth sites, including clinical outreach services.
  • $349.6 million to expand and improve bed-based forensic mental health services, including 82 additional beds at Thomas Embling Hospital along with some refurbishment of existing beds and supporting infrastructure. 
  • Establish the Collaborative Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing to bring together people with lived experience of mental illness or psychological distress, carers, researchers, and experts to provide clinical and non‑clinical services, conduct research and disseminate knowledge across the State.
  • $7.5 million to commence work on establishing Ambulance Victoria as the lead responder to triple zero calls primarily concerning mental illness or psychological distress, including program design and development. 
  • Funding of $36.26 million to support 24 ‘Mental Health Hospital in the Home’ beds, to continue delivering an alternative to acute hospital‑based treatment.

More information:

Care When It’s Needed Most

Emergency Mental Health Care – For When It’s Needed Most

Promoting Consumer Rights & Legal Support

  • Establish a mental health improvement unit within Safer Care Victoria. 
  • Commence work to eliminate the practices of seclusion and restraint through workforce education and training, and by embedding the Safewards model of care.
  • An opt-out non-legal advocacy service for clients subject to, or at risk of, compulsory treatment orders.
  • Increase access to legal representation for clients who appear before the Mental Health Tribunal. 
  • Develop and deliver new legislation to replace the Mental Health Act 2014.

Mental Illness and AOD 

  • Establish State-wide specialist services for people living with mental illness and substance use or addiction. 
  • Integration of mental health and alcohol and other drugs treatment, care and support. 
  • New addiction medicine specialist hubs will also be established to support those with the most complex needs.
  • Support the capability and capacity uplift in the mental health and addiction workforce through building, training, and strengthening the dual diagnosis workforce.
  • Additional 10 beds and refurbish support areas at Westside Lodge in Sunshine to provide dual diagnosis and integrated treatment for both mental health and alcohol and other drug clients.


  • Establish a School Mental Health Fund, enabling schools to select and implement mental health and wellbeing initiatives that best suit their students’ needs from an evidence‑based menu. 
  • Improve supports available to young carers and referral pathways through the mental health and wellbeing, and education systems.
  • Expand the Mental Health in Primary Schools pilot to include 90 government schools and 10 non-government schools in 2022. 
  • Continue the Maroondah Positive Education initiative in 27 schools. 
  • Expansion of early intervention outreach support through the Access to Early Learning program.
  • Trial of a new, intensive early education supports for vulnerable children affected by complex trauma.
  • Access to primary health care in participating secondary schools through the continuation of funding for the Doctors in Secondary Schools program.

Adult and Older Adults 

  • $1.5 billion for community‑based care, $263.8 million of this for a ‘front door’ for care. 20 new local services will be the first of up to 60 across the state to provide integrated mental health treatment delivered by a multidisciplinary team.  Trial of an integrated alcohol and other drug services trial will be delivered in select sites.  
  • $954 million to 22 reformed adult and older adult area mental health and wellbeing services to replace current area mental health services to provide greater capacity to treat, care and support adults and older adults experiencing severe and complex mental health and wellbeing challenges.
  • Continue the provision of existing community mental health service hours for adults and older adults, establish a specialist behaviour response team to respond to high-risk unsafe behaviour in inpatient units and expand capacity of local services to meet increased demand.
  • Funding to design a new Statewide trauma service to better support people with lived experience of trauma. 
  • Accommodation and wellbeing supports to 2,000 Victorians living with a mental illness and allocated supported housing places as part of the Big Housing Build.
  • Undertake the co‑design and planning for a further 500 supported housing places for young people living with mental illness.
  • $5.1 million towards improving non‑government helplines and connections to mental health services.

More information:

Providing Early Care for Victorian’s, Closer To Home


  • Supporting mental health in workplaces - $6 million towards initiatives including the creation of dedicated tools and resources specifically designed to support occupational mental health.
  • Continue to expand mental health nursing workforce with 120 graduate placements for nurses and 140 postgraduate mental health nurse scholarships per year. Funding of new allied health graduate positions and government-funded psychiatry rotations for junior medical officers. 
  • Funding to include more people with lived experience of mental illness or psychological distress in the mental health workforce.

Mental health prevention

  • Establish a new mental health and wellbeing promotion office within the Department of Health. 
  • A Victorian mentally healthy workplaces framework will be developed to define roles and responsibilities of workplaces in promoting mental health and reducing psychological injury at work. 
  • Social prescribing trials will be established across eight regions and will operate for three years in partnership with Victoria’s new local mental health and wellbeing services. 

Governance & leadership

  • Establish an independent statutory authority, the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission, and the transfer of functions from Mental Health Reform Victoria to the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Division of the Department of Health, led by a Chief Officer for Mental Health and Wellbeing. 
  • Develop a mental health and wellbeing outcomes framework and a new performance monitoring and accountability framework.
  • 8 new interim regional bodies established to help develop, coordinate and plan mental health and wellbeing services across Victoria to improve co-ordinated care across services.
  • Undertake service and capital planning across the mental health system to guide future investment. 

Regulation and complaints 

  • Support for statutory bodies to manage demand and ensure safeguarding to protect the most vulnerable peoples. Includes additional funding for the Mental Health Tribunal, Mental Health Complaints Commissioner, Victorian Disability Worker Regulation Scheme and the Disability Services Commissioner. 
  • Strengthen compliance and enforcement of the Non-Emergency Patient Transport Act 2003 for patients who require clinical monitoring or supervision during transport and to regulate the first aid sector for the first time. 
  • Funding for the Commission for Children and Young People to support the implementation of new Child Safe Standards.

Aboriginal wellbeing

  • Establish new structures and self-determined services across Victoria to support and promote Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing.
  • Expand social and emotional wellbeing teams to Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) across Victoria.
  • Fund the Victorian Aboriginal Controlled Health Organisation to establish an Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing centre of excellence. 
  • Resource Infant, Child and Youth Area Mental Health Services to support Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, with the creation of Koori mental health liaison officer positions.

Families and carers 

  • Establish eight family and carer-led centres across Victoria. 
  • Increased funding for the Carer Support Fund, Tandem and its carer participation registers. 
  • Family peer workers mental health hubs to work with family members & carers .
  • Expansion of The Families where a Parent has a Mental Illness (FaPMI) program will be expanded, and funding will be provided to co-design and expand supports for young carers. 
  • $6.9 million to expand community perinatal health teams across the state.

More information:

Supporting Families & Carers

Helping Families Support A Loved One’s Mental Health

Trans and gender-diverse young people

  • Additional mental health support, primary medical care and peer supports for transgender and gender diverse young people, including expansion of mental health services and primary care in the Monash Health and Royal Children’s Hospital catchments and the development of a clinical pathway from the Royal Children’s Hospital Gender Service to Orygen.

Infants, children and families

  • $138 million to establish 13 reformed infant and child area mental health and wellbeing services.
  • Establish three infant, child and family hubs based on a one-stop approach for child health, including emotional and developmental health. 
  • Funding for evidence-informed online parenting programs, and group‑based parenting sessions offered through the infant, child and family hubs.
  • Expansion of community perinatal mental health teams in area adult and older adult mental health and wellbeing services across Victoria.

More information:

Help For Children & Young People

Criminal and youth justice systems

  • Expansion of the Custodial Forensic Youth Mental Health Service delivered by Orygen at the Parkville and Malmsbury Youth Justice Precincts. 
  • Additional hours for specialist mental health assessment and treatment interventions will be provided for young people in custody.
  • Additional resources will also be provided for mental health support services in the justice system.

Rural and regional Victorians

  • Incentivise mental health workers to find employment in rural and regional areas. 
  • $17 million for nine new sites for follow-up care and outreach services.
  • $2.3 million will trial two new digital mental healthcare delivery and to support the Live 4 Life and Be Well in the Ranges programs, all to operate in rural and regional areas.
  • Delivery of an additional five acute mental health beds at the mental health Acute Inpatient Unit at Warrnambool. 

More information

Care in our Rural & Regional Communities

Better Mental Health Care for Regional Victoria

Creating Jobs & Caring for Regional Victorians

Young people

  • $266 million to reform and expand 13 Youth Area Mental Health and Wellbeing Services across Victoria – including increased service hours and $16 for targeted assertive outreach. 
  • $141 million to establish five new Youth Prevention and Recovery Care (YPARC) units – creating total of 50 new beds.
  • Integrate support for general wellbeing and alcohol and other drug treatment into Youth Area Mental Health and Wellbeing Services. 
  • Maintain the research, online delivery, and operational activities of organisations delivering mental health care to young people.
  • Delivery of five new 10-bed youth prevention and recovery care units in the Barwon South West, Gippsland, Grampians, Hume and North Eastern Metropolitan regions. 
  • Upgrade of three existing youth prevention and recovery care units in Bendigo, Dandenong and Frankston. 

More information

Help For Children & Young People

Diverse communities

  • Design and developed a diverse communities’ mental health and wellbeing framework.
  • Funding for community organisations and peak bodies to enable engagement in the mental health reform process and support communities to navigate the mental health and wellbeing system. 
  • Funding for the Rainbow Door program to support people who identify as LGBTIQ+ to access and navigate the mental health and wellbeing system, and to continue the Healthy Equal Youth project to support young LGBTIQ+ Victorians. 
  • Support to continuation of community-based mental health programs targeted at young asylum seekers and refugees. 

Social welfare and justice funding and initiatives

The budget also announces a number of social welfare and justice funding and initiatives, including:

  • Early intervention programs to divert more families from involvement in the children and families system and statutory interventions.
  • Family violence: early intervention, prevention, perpetrator accountability, responses for affected children & youth.  Support for survivors of family violence and sexual assault and improved justice responses.
  • Homelessness support and prevention
  • Building inclusive and safe communities for people with a disability.
  • Elder abuse prevention and early intervention.
  • Engaging and supporting at-risk and disengaged young people.
  • Decriminalising public drunkenness.
  • Medically supervised injecting rooms.
  • Fixated Threat Assessment Centre
  • Bushfire recovery support
  • Supporting victims of crime
  • Early intervention and diversion programs to divert more families from involvement in the children and families system and statutory interventions.
  • Reducing social isolation and improving connectedness.
  • Building safer and more inclusive communities for people with a disability.
  • Aboriginal wellbeing and self-determination.

Mental health & wellbeing levy

A new Mental Health and Wellbeing Levy will be implemented from 1 January 2022 as a payroll tax surcharge on wages paid in Victoria by businesses with national payrolls over $10 million a year. A rate of 0.5 per cent will apply for businesses with national payrolls above $10 million, and businesses with national payrolls above $100 million will pay an additional 0.5 per cent. The surcharge rates will be paid on the Victorian share of wages above the relevant threshold. Existing payroll tax exemptions for private schools, hospitals, charities, local councils, and wages paid for parental and volunteer leave will apply for the Levy.

The revenue from this surcharge will be spent on mental health services, supporting a substantial increase in investment in Victoria’s mental health system, supplementing the current level and future expected growth of the Government’s existing funding commitments as recommended by the Royal Commission.