Fiona Patten MP, leader of the Reason Party, has been described by ABC’s Jon Faine as one of Australia’s ‘most effective legislators’ and the Victorian Government’s 2018-19 budget goes a long way in validating this. Fiona was elected in 2014 and has a hugely impressive record of working cross-party to achieve impressive and progressive legislation.
Mental health has been at the forefront of Fiona’s politics and continues to be so. Fiona was delighted to see the government committing $101 million into Emergency Department Crisis Hubs across the state to treat mental health patients.
Fiona called for this expansion in Parliament on 22 March 2017, with reference Maroondah Hospital’s successful Psychiatric Assessment and Planning Unit (PAPU) model, which both improved triaging of mental health patients, and reduced the burden on emergency wards.
This investment will mean Victorians with a mental illness will get the urgent treatment they need.
There is still a huge amount more we need to do. Fiona is committed to further investments in mental health especially investments to support mental health carers and families, ensuring that they receive the support they need.
Ms Patten said “mental health issues are often described as the invisible illness and I am glad that I have been able to bring some visibility to this issue. People suffering from mental illnesses are potentially very vulnerable, and the impact can extend beyond the individual to their friends and families. We need to ensure that individuals are able to be treated urgently and with the sensitivity that mental health demands. I welcome the government’s commitment to Crisis Hubs. This funding shows that the government is listening and reforming the way they address mental health. However, I would like to see further support for mental health carers. Many of these carers are family members and they deserve financial and emotional support. I would like to secure further funding for the Carer Support Fund. An increase of $1 million to the Carer Support Fund from $1,600,000 to $2,600,000 would assist an extra 2,000 mental health carers engaged with clinical mental health services. This would provide invaluable assistance to 5,344 Victorian mental health carers in crisis per annum.”
The government have agreed to the extension and refurbishment of the Upfield Bike Path.
Ms Patten said “I am delighted that the government has committed to extending the Upfield Bike Path. This is something that I requested in February this year. The extension links the Upfield Bike Path with the Western Ring Road Bike Path, connecting two of Melbourne’s major cycling trails and significantly enhancing the safe cycling routes of Melbourne’s north.
I am pleased to see that I was able to secure this funding on their behalf of the constituents who raised this idea with me.
I also welcome the upgrade on the 517 and 518 Northland bus services. I have been calling on new bus services and routes to meet increased public transport demand while rail infrastructure projects are under construction. An increase in the frequency and hours on Sundays will have a huge impact on my electorate.
As I raised on 1 November 2017, I hope that the government will consider a similar increase in services for the 546 route”.
After Ms Patten’s successful campaign, the government have approved a Medically Supervised Safe Injection Centre trial for North Richmond. The government have allocated $2.4m to the trial, with the Premier stating “I want to thank Fiona Patten for her leadership, her courage on this issue. It is fair to say we would not be here without the work that she’s done.”
Ms Patten said “This centre will save lives, significantly reduce the burden on our ambulance service, act as a portal to drug treatment services and improve the amenity and safety of North Richmond. I am glad to see the government’s significant investment into the trial.”
Women in Sport
Ms Patten worked closely with the Melbourne Vixens to secure $64.6m funding from the government to upgrade the State Netball and Hockey Centre (SNHC) and Ikon Park. In August 2017, Ms Patten called for local sports clubs to provide female facilities.
Ms Patten said “Women’s sport is often overlooked. There are still too many sporting facilities, particularly for field sports, that do not have female changing facilities. Netball is the biggest sport played in the state, however it is under threat of being removed from TV in Australia. We need to change this. Measures like constructing the Yarra Bend Pavilion, go some way towards achieving this”
End of life choices
Ms Patten was instrumental in achieving the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act in 2017, having initiated the Parliamentary Inquiry that led to this important reform. The government has committed funding for the safe and effective implementation of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act.
Ms Patten said “I have been an advocate for Voluntary Assisted Dying and I count the passing of this Act as one of my most significant achievements in Parliament. I am pleased that the government are supporting the delivery of this legislation by funding the work of an Implementation Taskforce and Secretariat and the establishment and operation of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board.”
Music in Schools
Before being elected Ms Patten pledged to bring free music lessons to primary schools. The government has announced funding for government schools to purchase music-related resources, deliver teacher training and professional learning in music education and assist schools to develop music programs.
Ms Patten said “I am delighted that the government has announced funding for music in our schools. This is something I have championed for a long time. It is important that the value of creativity is not overlooked in education. This funding will go a long way to bringing music back into our schools.”
Supporting Neighbourhood Houses
Ms Patten also welcomed funding to support Neighbourhood Houses coordination program, including additional coordination hours to provide more access to services, and activities to build stronger communities and support the needs of local people.
Ms Patten called for increased funding for Neighbourhood Houses in Parliament on 20 November 2017.
Ms Patten said “The Neighbourhood House program is a fantastic way of activating and bonding together communities. It is important that we recognise the value of supporting local people and building these communities. I am pleased that the government is pledging to keep Victoria a great place to live.”
Better Futures – supporting young care leavers
In November 2017, Ms Patten asked the government to “extend the leaving care age to 21 years for those young people who require it.” Ms Patten was delighted that the government have pledged $2.3mill to extend the trial of a new way of delivering support to young care leavers.
Ms Patten said “The consequence of the current leaving care age is that many of these young people suffer poor outcomes and do not transition to adulthood very well at all. We know that the average leaving home age in Australia is 24. Yet for this vulnerable cohort we push them out the door at the age of 18, and that is often not only to their detriment but society’s. I am delighted that the government is reviewing this process. We need to ensure that these vulnerable people get the support and care they need as they move into the next stages of their lives.”
Sexual Harassment and Assault in Licensed Live Music Venues Pilot Program.
This program announced by the government in March 2018 will improve the safety of live music venues by training staff and patrons how to identify and respond to sexual harassment and assault. Posters and other materials will be rolled out in venues from late April, with training currently being delivered to staff.
This program mirrors in many ways the ‘Respect is the Rule’ program that Fiona championed in Parliament in October 2017 and sought funding in her 2018-19 budget bid submissions.
There is still more that needs to be done
Ms Patten said “Although the budget shows that the government is listening, there is still a lot in the budget that is disappointing. The $689m invested in new prison shows that the government is continuing to park an ambulance at the bottom of a cliff rather than building a fence at the top. This is money that we could have invested in mental health. A large percentage of the occupants of the prison will be suffering from mental health issues and we need to be treating them and rehabilitating them – not building an extra prison. The funding for mental health and rehabilitation is still below the national average and we need to change that. Victoria needs to lead the way in supporting our vulnerable residents to prevent criminality from occurring, not imprisoning them. Money spent in early intervention will save the government multiple millions.
I am also disappointed that there is not further investment in the Upfield train line. This is a vital transport corridor through the heart of my electorate.
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