The Andrews Government’s $4.9 billion 2023-24 health budget delivered on all its 2022 election commitments to Victorian nurses and midwives.
This includes initiatives to retain and increase the workforce and improve staffing levels in emergency departments, high dependency and coronary care units and maternity services and introduce ratios into intensive care units during this term.
The budget was announced on 3 May. The following is a summary of key funding initiatives that matter to Victorian nurses and midwives.
Improving nurse/ midwife ratios (2022 election commitments)
There is $167 million for targeted and staged ratio initiatives proposed by ANMF members:
- New postnatal night shift ratios in Level 4, 5 and 6 services under the Safer Care Maternity Capability Framework (currently 1:6 and will move to 1:4). Implementation to start in 2024.
- A two-year trial of a registered nurse on every shift at each postnatal l ward primarily to assist with care of the neonate at three maternity services. This trial will run from July 2023 to 2025.
- Level 1 hospital ED resuscitation bays will be 1:1 on the morning shift (currently 1:1 on pm and night duty).
- The formalisation of 1:1 intensive care initiative for all shifts in level 1 and level 2 ICUs.
- Liaison nurse in addition to prescribed ratios in levels 1 and 2 ICUs.
- Night duty in charge in stand-alone high-dependency units and coronary care units.
Student and graduate retention initiatives (2022 election commitment)
Funding for the $5000 graduate nurse and midwife bonus. This two-part bonus will be paid to nurses and midwives who complete their studies in 2022, 2023 and 2024 if they work in the public health system for two years after they register. It builds on the bonus paid to nursing and midwifery undergraduates who start in 2023 and 2024. These students will receive $3000 per annum and then a further $7500 retention bonus if they choose to work in the public sector following their graduation for a period of two years.
Both the undergraduate and graduate financial assistance was a result of ANMF advocacy on behalf of members. It is designed to reduce attrition, financially support students during their clinical placements and encourage early career retention in the public health system.
Maternal and child health nurses (2022 election commitment)
The Andrews Government has responded to ANMF maternal and child health nurse members’ workload issues with an $86 million investment to increase their key ages and stages appointment time length with new parents and their babies and young children from 30 minutes to 45 minutes. This will be phased in from June 2023.
New early parenting centres will be established in Northcote and an Aboriginal-led centre in Frankston.
The budget recognises that the health system is not back to business as usual and the pandemic is still with us.
$45.3 million to maintain and store supplies of personal protective equipment for the health workforce.
$44 million to continue Victoria’s pandemic response including targeted engagement with at-risk members of the community to ensure they are informed about the COVID-19 risk, protective behaviours, vaccination and treatments.
Continued funding for the Victorian virtual emergency department.
$152 million for 20 women’s health clinics, an Aboriginal-led clinic and mobile health clinic, nine new women’s sexual and reproductive health hubs, an inquiry into women’s pain management and 10,800 additional laparoscopy surgeries which were all election commitments.
$50 million to expand Australia’s first free IVF service by establishing sites across metropolitan and regional Victoria.
$35.1 million for Aboriginal community health organisations to provide 100,000 additional appointments.
Public aged care (election commitment)
A $162 million to rebuild public aged care facilities in Cohuna, Maffra and Numurkah reaffirms the Andrews Government election commitment since 2014 to retain beds in this sector. Victoria has the largest public aged care sector in the country.
$34.3 million for continued funding for nurse resident ratios in public aged care. Includes funding for 30 FTE to expand residential in-reach nursing teams to support public and private residential aged care facilities to reduce avoidable emergency department presentations, disruption to residents and demand on ambulance services.
Since the mental health royal commission’s final report was released in March 2021 the Andrews Government has spent $6 billion in mental health and wellbeing support services. The 2023 budget includes:
- $103.9 million to continue building the mental health workforce. This is on top of $372 million in last year’s budget.
- $776 million to continue the work to deliver the implementation of the mental health royal commission recommendations.
- $156 million for 98 new mental health beds across Victoria.
- $22.5 million to establish three new Mental Health and Wellbeing Locals in Northcote, Leongatha and Narre Warren and plan another 20.
- Funding to open the state’s first publicly funded residential eating disorder treatment centre.
- Funding to expand perinatal mental health services.
- $48.8 million over four years support the establishment of the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 which comes into effect from 1 September. The new legislation is designed to change the way mental health and wellbeing treatment, care and support is delivered.
- $81.3 million to support people with severe mental illness in the criminal justice system. Includes funding to expand forensic community mental health teams, expand the Youth Justice Mental Health Initiative (YJMHI) and Forensicare’s Community Forensic Disability Mental Health Service.
- $17.7 million for suicide prevention initiatives, including follow-up support for people affected by suicide, their families and loved ones. Continued funding for the Youth Live4Life program, progressing the aftercare service for the LGBTIQ+ community members following a suicide attempt, continued funding for the Strong Brother, Strong Sister program supporting Aboriginal children and young people in Geelong, and continuation of universal aftercare services for a further three years.
Alcohol and other drugs
$160 million for ongoing funding for the Medically Supervised Injecting Room in North Richmond, outreach services, treatment and withdrawal beds across nine locations, navigation and advocacy services.
Almost $80 million over three years for the statewide rollout of the health-based response to public intoxication. This includes dedicated services for Aboriginal Victorians and central clinical and referral support services. This was a recommendation of the 1991 final report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
$320 million to start planning, development and land acquisition for new and upgraded hospitals. This includes the new hospital for West Gippsland, the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Ringwood East and major upgrades at the Northern Hospital, Austin Hospital, Dandenong Hospital, Wonthaggi Hospital and Monash Medical Centre.