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Nurses and midwives welcome budget

ANMF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said: “We welcome the spending on providing additional chronic, acute, postnatal and mental health and forensic mental health services, supporting the workforce and improving bricks and mortar. This is a government that can multi-task well and delivers.

“The government’s health initiatives show it’s listened to nurses and midwives and has a sophisticated understanding of the health system and how a different approach will achieve better results.”

The budget’s ground breaking $1.9 billion centrepiece to end family violence is an important cornerstone and will have a dramatic positive impact on those who have experienced family violence and all who are at the frontline trying to help.

The much needed $81.1 million to boost Victoria’s highly qualified maternal and child health nursing service as part of the plan to identify, refer and support vulnerable families demonstrates the government understands MCH nurses’ skills and experience and the increase demand on them. Combined with last year’s budget this brings investment into Victoria’s maternal and child health nursing service to $214.1 million.

“We’re really pleased with the investment into ending unacceptable family violence and we believe including the additional maternal and child health nurses and the service they provide in this plan will be a game changer,” Ms Fitzpatrick said.

The budget also ends seven years of uncertainty for Victoria’s unique Nursing and Midwifery Health Program. The program provides free, confidential and face to face caseload support by nurses for nurses, midwives and students of nursing and midwifery who have a mental health, alcohol or substance use issue. Funding is about to be cut by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA). The Andrews Government’s commitment to provide annual funding of around $627,000 was the lifeline the important health program needed.

Another key highlight is the record $325.7 million investment in mental health services. Funding includes much needed additional forensic mental health in-patient beds at Thomas Embling House, better identification of clients at risk of entering the criminal justice system and specialist mental health support for young people. There is also specific funding to ensure Aboriginal Victorians receive appropriate mental health support including for the first time Aboriginal mental health traineeships. Additional mental health beds will be opened and staffed in metropolitan and regional Victoria. There is also an important injection of funds to provide an additional 75,000 hours of community care.

“ANMF welcomes the investment in mental health given the neglect of this sector in the past and we urge the government to continue to improve on this important step,” Ms Fitzpatrick said.

The Andrews Government recognises the connection between health and the environment and that health services, through their high energy use and the waste created, contribute to the problem.

“ANMF has high hopes that funding provided for a new health service waste management pilot project will address skyrocketing costs and reduce the amount of unnecessary waste and single use products going to landfill,” Ms Fitzpatrick said.

ANMF will make sure the $3 million over the next two years to tackle bullying and workplace violence in public health facilities dovetails into its violence prevention work through the 2016 enterprise agreement. Work is well underway with all public hospitals to develop action plans consistent with ANMF’s 10-point plan.

“Victorian nurses and midwives have never had such a productive working relationship with a government to tackle the grassroots, systemic and cultural issues that will make hospitals and health facilities safe places to work,” Ms Fitzpatrick said.