What the Royal Commission said
The early years of a child's life are some of the most important. This is due to rapid brain development and physical growth. The early years can also be a risky time for mental health and wellbeing challenges to first appear. The combination of development, mental health and wellbeing challenges can have big impacts.
The Royal Commission called for a new infant, child and family mental health and wellbeing system for children aged 0-11 years. This new system will ensure that infants, children, and their families receive the treatment, care and support they need. It will focus on early intervention and providing age-appropriate care. The system will be made up of services that support 0-4-year-olds and 5-11-year-olds.
What are the opportunities?
The Royal Commission found that the current mental health system focused on young people and adults. They found there are fewer supports available to infants, children and their families.
Addressing mental health and wellbeing challenges early in life has can help prevent issues later on.
The Royal Commission also recognised the importance of parents, carers and supporters. They have a critical role to play in supporting infants' and children's mental health and wellbeing.
What are we doing?
To respond to the recommendations, we are working with our partners to set up the following supports and services.
Infant, Child, and Family Wellbeing hubs
The hubs will provide a ‘one-stop-shop' to supporting infants, children and families. The hubs will host psychologists and psychiatrists, family supports and paediatricians. Infants and children will not need to have a diagnosis to access the hubs. Assessments for autism will also be available with no cost to families. We are currently working to set up the first three hubs in Victoria by the end of 2022.
Expanding Infant, Child and Family Area Mental Health and Wellbeing Services
This will help infants and children who need extra treatment, care and support. These services will provide therapy that considers all aspects an infant's or child's life. The expanded services will provide wellbeing supports, peer supports and care coordination to help with different kinds of challenges including difficulty in attending school.
To provide support to parents we will:
- make free online parenting programs available to parents, carers, and supporters around Victoria
- provide group-based parenting programs at the hubs
- provide group-based parenting sessions to those attending the Infant, Child and Family Area Mental Health and Wellbeing Services
- set up three residential family centres located in the Victorian community. These centres will allow whole families to stay together overnight and access intensive therapy over 5 days. The centres will be for families with a child 0-11 years old who is experiencing major behavioural, emotional and relationship difficulties. The first of these centres will be in Macleod and operated by Austin Health.