As women across Victoria experience high levels of depression and anxiety, chief executives from the state’s 12 women’s health services will call on Treasurer Tim Pallas to include a large sum for gender-specific mental health services in the May 20 budget.
The members of Victoria’s Women’s Health Service Council say they would be “devastated” if their budget bid for $59 million, much of it for mental health support, is not met but believe it is unlikely to be.
In a statement to be released on Monday the CEOs will say “women in Victoria have higher rates of mental illness than men. In all but two local government areas across the state, anxiety and depression rates amongst women are significantly higher, with four rural and regional LGAs with over 50 per cent of women diagnosed with a mental health disorder.
“We would be devastated if, for the fifth year in a row, Treasury would enable an effective cut to women’s health services,” the statement says.
Signatories include Tricia Currie, CEO of Women’s Health Loddon Mallee and chair of Women’s Health Services Council, Kit McMahon, CEO of Women’s Health in the South East and chair of Gender Equity Victoria, Dianne Hill, CEO of Women’s Health Victoria, Adele Murdolo, CEO of Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health, and Leah Van Poppel, CEO of Women with Disabilities.
The leaders said they were disappointed that the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System failed to identify the gender gap in mental health and to apply a gender lens to solutions.
Tanja Kovac, CEO of Gender Equity Victoria, said she had tried and failed several times for an audience with Mr Pallas to explain the urgency of funding for gender equality services across the state, especially women’s health services.
“We’re disappointed that Treasurer Pallas hasn’t made time for our members this year, especially given the national discussion on the importance of gender equality,” she said.