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Memo to Premier Andrews: All Lives Matter

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The Victorian Government’s decision to discontinue a lifesaving mental health outreach service will put lives at risk, SANE Australia warned today.

As part of the Victoria Police electronic Referral (VPeR) project, SANE Australia and Victoria Police provide a mental health-related call-back service to vulnerable and at-risk people.

SANE Australia CEO, Jack Heath, said VPeR has assisted thousands of Victorians, while also providing valuable support to the men and women of Victoria Police.

'Victoria is in the midst of a mental health emergency. Every year, 1.2 million people across the state experience mental health issues and as many as 20,000 attempt to take their own life,' Mr Heath said.

'Police are often the first point of call – with family members and friends calling 000 when they need help. However, the police are not mental health professionals.

'That’s where VPeR comes in, with a team of trained experts ready to call and assist at-risk and vulnerable Victorians, based on a system of police referrals.

Many of the thousands of people we have reached out to across the state have never or would ever be likely to, access mental health services and it’s critical that, in their hour of need, they have access to a service like this.'

Mr Heath said VPeR has been one of the most successful police mental outreach programs and is strongly supported by Victoria Police.

'Despite this, the Victorian Government has made the very short-sighted decision to discontinue this critically important and lifesaving initiative,' he said.

Particularly so in light of the commitment in the Premier’s 10-Year Mental Health Plan to "better address the needs of people with mental health problems who become involved with the justice system at all points of contact."

'That’s exactly what VPeR does, and so we call on the Victorian Government to reinstate and fund this vital service so we can ensure thousands more Victorians get the help they need, when and where it’s needed most.'

'With this goal in mind, we encourage people to show their support for this lifesaving initiative by visiting change.org and signing the petition to Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews.'

Last updated: 1 April, 2016
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