Green light for Thomas Embling Hospital expansionMelanie Starr
*Concept image only. Not final or approved
Increasing the capacity of the Thomas Embling Hospital will become a reality following the very welcome $ 349.6m State Budget announcement today. The announcement, made by Acting Premier and Minister for Mental Health, James Merlino MP, will deliver 82 additional beds and supporting infrastructure.
Forensicare CEO Dr Margaret Grigg welcomed the news and said this investment will play a critical role in reforming the way mental health services are delivered across the mental health system.
“This is exciting and welcome news. Thomas Embling Hospital plays such an important role in supporting the mental health and wellbeing system. It’s expansion in capacity, with new and contemporary design, will significantly improve how Forensicare delivers mental health care and supports the system more broadly.
Most importantly, this project will build and strengthen the services we provide, and truly make a difference to the lives of those in our care, as we support them through their recovery.”
Former Thomas Embling Hospital consumer Sarah*, who has been an active member in the project’s planning process said having consumer input into the project is a not only an innovative approach but pivotal in the planning process.
“I am so excited for Forensicare. The future of the organisation is looking positive and bright for consumers, patients and the many staff. It is also extremely refreshing to see an organisation value consumers’ input and opinions in such high esteem.”
John*, a carer of a consumer at the hospital said the expansion will make a significant difference to ensuring people have access to care more quickly.
“One of the biggest challenges when you care for someone experiencing mental ill-health is knowing they are safe and getting the care they need when they need it. Expanding the hospital means more peace of mind for families and carers and that is welcome news.”
Forensicare Board Chair, Ken Lay AM, thanked the Victorian Government for their commitment to delivering on the recommendations set out by the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.
“The final recommendations made by the Royal Commission identified the critical need to support the mental health and wellbeing of people in contact with or at risk of coming into contact with, the criminal justice systems.”
“This significant investment will provide much needed additional capacity to meet future demand and provide the flexibility to respond to the changing needs of consumers. It will also allow Forensicare to continue to build on the important work they do – caring for vulnerable people in their mental health recovery and keeping our community safe.”
The new funding provides an additional 48 bed medium secure facility for men, expanded state-of-the-art facilities on the existing Thomas Embling Hospital site. It also includes a 34 bed dedicated women’s precinct – a specially designed, therapeutic environment to improve support for women at the hospital who have often experienced extensive trauma and family violence.
Preparatory works and planning for the project are already underway. Construction for the main works is expected to commence in mid-2022.
The project will be delivered by the Victorian Health Building Authority in partnership with Forensicare.
More information about the Thomas Embling Hospital Bed Expansion Project can be found on the Victorian Health Building Authority website.
*not their real name