Over the last 18 months, the actions by the Andrews government to control the spread of the coronavirus have been affecting mental health and suicide rates.
Claims that originated from barely disguised Liberal campaigning machines such as Voice for Victoria and Shadow Pandemic but have become the talking point of many an armchair pundit. But the data hasn't been available for comparison.
The ABS has detailed the full impact of the Victorian government's lockdown measures, and at odds with the Victorian Liberals and their newfound appreciation for mental health outcomes is, as usual, the data. Suicide in Victoria fell 3 per cent from 2019 to 2020, to the lowest rate in seven years.
Analysing fatalities with mental health as a contributor, heart attacks fell by 9.1 per cent nationally, and 14.3 per cent in Victoria. Mental and behavioural disorders fatalities dropped 5.7 per cent across Australia, and by 10.6 per cent in Victoria. One graph cited did indeed show a jump in suicides mid-2021, coinciding with the second Delta lockdown, but this mid-year jump had been consistent - almost to the number - with the last seven years.
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Beyond deaths, suicide prevention professionals have been telling us that they have been working an amount of overtime only outranked by the nurses and posties, but the fact that this increased access to these services has not materialised into real life suicide/self-harm statistics is a statement of success of both these services and Andrews' commitment to supporting them.
Very strange for the new champions of mental health, to vote against Vic Labor's bill to totally reform the mental healthcare system, to be funded by the top 1 per cent of Victorian businesses. I know the words "tax reform" are the two most eye-rolling words in the English language to everyone that isn't me, but bear with me.
The tax cost is too high! We'd punish Victorian business again! But the reality is that the reforms will be funded by an increase in tax of 0.5 per cent on businesses with payroll over $10m per year, who - let's be honest - are the same who benefited from JobKeeper while increasing profits, and in the same bill lowered payroll tax rate for regional businesses.
In time, Andrews, McGowan, Gutwein and Palaszczuk will be celebrated in the same way that we celebrate Lang for standing up to the government and the monarchy, Whitlam for standing up for Australian sovereignty against the Americans, and Howard for standing up for gun control.
The same cannot be said for the politically clueless Victorian Liberal party who choose to stand up against the interests of the state.
It's time our governments showed they care as much about regional Australians as they do about our city cousins.
It's about time we had modern health facilities and enough workers and beds for our needs.
I'd like my taxes to be spent closer to home on facilities regional people can utilise.
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