Mental Health was identified as a top priority in the Advocate’s first Statement of Intent in 2018-19. The Advocate continues to hear from people that mental health and wellbeing is both a concern and aspiration for many.
In May 2019, the Advocate met with the Royal Commission and facilitated a roundtable discussion in a bid to ensure the voices of people living, working and studying in Latrobe were heard and considered during the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.
The Advocate was also invited to contribute to the terms of reference for the Royal Commission and was 1 of 99 people invited to provide evidence at the Royal Commission Hearing.
The Advocate has been told mental health concerns are often impacted by other determinants such as violence, alcohol and drugs, employment and education.
Palliative Care was identified as a priority for the Advocate in her 2018/19 Statement of Intent. Her office undertook significant research and community engagement that resulted in a report to the Minister for Health. Achieving Victoria’s best end of life experience for people in Latrobe, released in September 2019, outlines 12 recommendations to achieve Victoria’s best end of life experience for people in Latrobe.
In May 2020 the Advocate provided a Progress Report to the Minister and Latrobe communities that highlighted the changes that have been implemented as a result of her recommendations.
In September 2021 the Advocate produced a second progress update, developed with input from the Department of Health and local services in Latrobe, to acknowledge the work that has been done and highlight the areas that has been done and highlight the areas that require greater attention.
Access to Services
In her initial Statement of Intent, the Advocate made a commitment to the Victorian Minister for Health and Latrobe communities to identify the systemic and underlying issues that impact how communities in Latrobe access GPs. The need for this priority campaign was evident in the voices of Latrobe communities, local GPs and health services that were reaching out to the Advocate to express their concerns.
In September 2020, the Advocate released Improving access to services in Latrobe, a collaborative action plan that demonstrates a shared commitment to improving access to GPs. The plan was informed by the Advocate’s engagement with communities and GPs, and actions within the plan were drafted and reviewed by a wide range of stakeholders and coordinating agencies who are committed to improving access to primary healthcare services in Latrobe. The plan identifies four areas for action;
- Improving training and accreditation pathways for doctors in Latrobe
- Enhancing and promoting the liveability of Latrobe and strengthening local GP recruitment systems
- Building health and digital literacy and enabling greater responsiveness to the community voice
- Local system design and innovation; reducing the burden on the emergency department and creating a multidisciplinary business model for the future
In September 2021, the Advocate’s office released a progress update for the Minister for Health and Latrobe communities, detailing the actions that have been taken to improve training pathways for doctors, build digital literacy, promote the liveability of Latrobe, and enable local system design innovation to reduce the burden on the emergency department.
In her 2020/2021 Statement of Intent the Advocate outlined the community priority campaigns for the year. Among them was Human Connections in Latrobe.
Building on the 2018-19 mental health priority project and the 2019-20 COVID-19 priority project, this campaign has a dedicated focus on social isolation and loneliness in Latrobe. The campaign takes a placed-based approach to identify opportunities to increase social connections across Latrobe and build on existing relationships, social networks and work occurring with local community groups and through funded services.
It aims to identify the breadth of programs that have an impact on preventing and/or limiting social isolation within their communities.
To deliver this work, the Advocate has partnered with the Latrobe Health Assembly, Latrobe City Council, Latrobe Valley Authority and the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing. Partner agencies have worked together and independently on various initiatives with the shared aim of improving community connections, social participation and mental wellbeing outcomes.