The Nationals leader and Member for Murray Plains, Peter Walsh, said he is appalled Labor MPs used their numbers in Parliament to vote down a proposal to boost mental health support for young Victorians.
Mr Walsh said The Nationals moved a Private Member’s Bill last week that would have made thousands more mental health specialists available to Victorian schools.
He said the Bill was part of a plan; backed by the Australian Counselling Association, to amend the definition of a mental health practitioner under the Mental Health Act, to allow counsellors to work in schools.
“The Nationals had a plan and if Labor had not opposed it; our plan would have made 2000 counsellors available to support Victorian kids through lockdown,” Mr Walsh said.
“Our youngest Victorians have been shut out of schools, banned from seeing their friends and extended family and from the things they do to keep good mental health; such as sport, playgrounds and music lessons,” he said.
“This was a simple change that would have made the world of difference to the youngest Victorians.
“The Andrews Labor Government says it’s working on reform, but this reform is months; if not years, away when our kids need more mental health support now.”
Mr Walsh said the additional counsellors also builds on The Nationals’ calls for the Andrews Labor Government to make an extra 2000 trainee psychologists available to better support Victorian kids.
“Local GP clinics have advised me that they are seeing a notable increase in young people seeking mental health support as a result of the pandemic,” he added.
“However, there is significant concern that waiting lists and out-of-pocket fees are delaying kids getting the help they need when they need it most.
“Disappointingly, the government used its numbers in the Parliament to block the proposal.
“The Nationals will not stop fighting for more mental health funding in regional and rural communities.
“We need to utilise every resource available to us so our kids can get the support they need, right now.”