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DHSChild and Youth Mental Health Service Redesign Demonstration Projects


1.1 Organisational context

DHS is responsible for funding a wide range of services to diverse client groups across Victoria. The Department’s principal function is to ensure the delivery of a range of health, housing and community services. Our mission statement is:

To enhance and protect the health and well being of all Victorians, emphasising vulnerable groups and those most in need.

It is State Government policy that the funding of non-government agencies for the provision of services to the community be undertaken in a context of partnership between the Government and the service sector. To this end, DHS signed a partnership agreement with funded agencies in the health, housing and community services sectors in October 2002. The agreement is supported by regular partnership forums.

The projects described in this brief will be managed by the Mental Health and Drugs Division of DHS, a new division comprised of the former Mental Health and Drugs Policy Branches. Its functions encompass public sector policy, program, and service and workforce development in relation to mental health and drug matters.  

1.2 Demonstration projects

The Victorian government has made available funding to seed mental health reform aimed at improving the way mental health care is provided for children and young people aged 0-25 years. As part of the whole-of-government Mental Health Reform Strategy, two demonstration projects will be funded to showcase reform by demonstrating how a coalition of providers can plan and deliver an earlier, better integrated and more comprehensive service response to children and young people within this age group who experience a mental health problem.

Existing services are operating under significant demand pressure. Current models of service are typically limited to responding to the needs of those with severe and complex problems — often at time of crisis. There is little capacity for early intervention and limited systematic attention to more commonly occurring and less severe mental health problems.

Services are now being invited to take up an opportunity to lead reform in the way that mental health care is provided to children and young people within their area. Existing resources will be bolstered by new funding to enable service redesign and system reform that will deliver a better system of mental health care for children and young people in two demonstration areas — one metropolitan and one rural.

These four-year projects will address the issues raised in the mental health reform consultation paper Because mental health matters. The focus is on both improving mental health service provision more broadly and strengthening prevention and early intervention capacity in universal (e.g. Maternity, Maternal and Child Health Nursing Services, GPs, kindergartens, schools and vocational services) and secondary level services (paediatricians, private psychiatrists and psychologists, allied health and others). Barriers to service access and

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