Victoria’s forensic mental health hospital will undergo an almost $350 million upgrade.
Acting Premier James Merlino on Monday announced $349.6 million from Thursday’s budget will go towards upgrading Thomas Embling Hospital, which predominantly provides services for people found not guilty of crimes on the grounds of mental impairment.
The works at the Fairfield facility will include a new dedicated 34-bed women’s precinct, a 48-bed medium-security men’s facility, as well as clinical administration facilities.
A royal commission into Victoria’s mental health system found the hospital has expanded “very slowly” despite the “very significant” expansion of the Victorian population and prison population, with just 36 additional beds created since 2002.
The royal commission recommended the government refurbish the existing 136 beds at the facility and provide an additional 107 by the end of 2026.
Mr Merlino, who is also the state’s mental health minister, said one in three Victorian prisoners need mental health treatment.
“Access to targeted, clinical care is critical to supporting these Victorians, and setting them on the path towards genuine recovery,” he said in a statement.
Mr Merlino said the upgrade will also reduce wait times for mental health assessment and treatment, reduce incidents of mental health deterioration and self-harm and increase access to services for female patients.
Meanwhile, $179.4 million from the budget will go towards stage one of the Fishermans Bend Innovation Precinct at the former General Motors Holden site.
The 32-hectare site, 4km from the Melbourne CBD, will be the new home for the University of Melbourne’s school of engineering from 2024.
Stage one involves remediation of the site and installation of infrastructure, with a new road through the precinct.
“The old Holden factory is part of Victoria’s manufacturing history – this important first step will help transform it into Victoria’s manufacturing future,” Business Precincts Minister Martin Pakula said.