Key messages

  • Victoria’s mental health services annual report 2016-17 is a useful tool for health services, staff, advocates, carers, consumers and the broader community to better understand the Victorian public mental health system and the services available for people with a mental illness.
  • The report includes data on various aspects of our services and system, reflecting the Victorian Government's commitment to accountability and transparency.
  • It contributes to community understanding of, and discussion about Victoria's public mental health system and services, and the experiences of people with mental illness, their families and carers.  


The Victorian Government is committed to reporting annually to parliament and the community on state funded mental health services. Victoria's mental health services annual report 2016-17 is the second to be tabled by the Victorian Government as part of its work to ensure increased accountability and transparency. 

This report provides an outline of Victorian Government funded mental health services and the Victorians who accessed them for treatment, care and support in 2016-17. This includes a range of hospital and community-based clinical mental health services, and non-clinical services provided by mental health community support services. 

Victoria's mental health services annual report 2016-17 also provides an update on a range of initiatives under Victoria's 10-year mental health plan, including work to reduce suicide in local communities, positive wellbeing for LGBTI Victorians, improving access to services, and delivering programs to make Victoria’s mental health services safer for consumers and staff. 

Importantly, the report includes some deeply personal accounts of hope, resilience and recovery.   

Download Victoria's mental health services annual report 2016–17 (PDF, 1.4mb)

The year at a glance

Year in review – public mental health services in 2016–17

Figure 3: Source of mental health referrals, 2016–17The mental health data we collect helps us to understand who accesses our services and how, the service settings and circumstances in which treatment is provided, and whether that treatment results in better outcomes. It also tells us about demand for, and use of, our services.

There were 66,445 registered clients in 2016–17, which is 1.1 per cent of Victoria's population. Most of these were adults. Just over half were women, while nearly 33 per cent lived in rural areas. People were referred to clinical mental health services mostly by hospitals (including emergency departments), while some were referred by GPs or their families.

There were 52,427 mental health-related emergency department presentations in 2016–17. Across all age groups there were 24,314 hospitalisations in mental health acute inpatient units in 2016–17. Of these admissions, 52 per cent were compulsory. 

Download the report to find out more.

Our New Bendigo Parent-Infant Unit

This year the new Bendigo Hospital opened, and with it a new dedicated parent–infant unit.

Our unit treats acute mental health disorders in carers while supporting the attachment relationship between the infant and their carer, who could be a mother, father or other carer.

The five-bed, five-cot unit is collocated within the psychiatry precinct of Bendigo Hospital, which allows for the sharing of specialist services and support. Most of the admissions are non-compulsory, which requires families to recognise and acknowledge their own mental health needs and what an inpatient admission can offer them.

The Parent–Infant Unit in Bendigo Health is proud to offer a world-class, purpose-built facility in a regional area that meets the families' needs. The physical environment has a profound impact on a family's ability to remain present and allow the therapeutic processes to improve their mental health and relationships with one another, especially their vulnerable infant.

A new mother and her child at the Bendigo Parent Infant Unit

Supporting the Ahmadi family

'The Ahmadi family settled in Australia about five years ago, as refugees from Afghanistan.

I met the Ahmadi family when they were referred to a family support worker by their settlement support worker. 

The children were worried. Their father had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and was leaving home whenever he felt stressed. His wife would go with him. The children often saw mental health workers in their home. They needed emotional support and information about what was happening to him.

So the FaPMI program became involved in the Ahmadi family visits. Our aim was to build the mental health workers’ capacity to address the needs of all family members, and help the family support worker to explain mental illness to the children. 

The family support worker organised case conferences attended by the mental health service, the settlement worker and the FaPMI worker to identify the Ahmadi family’s practical needs and what available resources might assist. 

Once the Ahmadis understood the system better and a family care plan was in place, they no longer needed mental health clinical case management or support from the family support worker. We spoke with Mr Ahmadi about ways to explain his illness in a child-appropriate way. The community mental health worker stayed involved, and Mr Ahmadi's GP managed his medication.' - Lisa Tesoriero. FaPMI Coordinator. Monash Health.

Listening to consumers

Listening and responding to the experiences of people who use our public mental health services is a fundamental part of identifying what is working well and what needs improving. 

The 'Your Experience of Service' (YES) survey is an important tool for understanding how people experience our public clinical mental health services. YES captures information about people's experience of care, including the development of care plans and how the service supports their ability to manage their day-to-day lives.

A statistical analysis was undertaken to better understand what drives positive experiences of clinical services. The single largest factor driving a positive overall experience was staff showing respect for your feelings. 'Feeling respected' was in turn influenced by feeling welcome, staff making an effort to see you when you wanted, staff showing hopefulness for the future, respect for individual values and feeling safe.

Figure 2: Most important drivers of a a positive overall experience, based on YES survey data, 2016

Orygen Youth Mental Health’s clinical and research facility

The Victorian Government is providing $60 million to rebuild Orygen Youth Mental Health's clinical and research facility in Parkville. Construction of the new facility is underway and expected to be completed in 2018–19.

Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, delivers research, policy development, innovative clinical services, evidence-based training and education to ensure there is continuous improvement in the treatment and care provided to young people experiencing mental ill-health.

Orygen operates four headspace clinics across the north and west metropolitan area at Craigieburn, Glenroy,Sunshine and Werribee. headspace centres provide young people aged 12–25 with advice, assistance, treatment and support in the areas of general health, mental health, education and employment, and alcohol and other drugs. headspace was established and funded by the Commonwealth Government in 2006.

An artist's impression of the new Orygen youth mental health facility.