State & territory jurisdictional reports: Activity relating to mental health reform prior to the implementation of the Fourth National Mental Health Plan

12. Provide education about mental health and suicide prevention to front line workers in emergency, welfare and associated sectors

Page last updated: December 2010

Department of Health and Ageing

  • The National Suicide Prevention Program is funding the following activities:
    • Youth adaptation Mental Health First Aid - ORYGEN Research Centre
      • Square Project - education and training to GPs in SA, managed by SA State Office and
      • Wesley Mission - LifeForce Suicide Prevention Education and Training project - mostly community members but some welfare/NGP/NFP organisations.
  • The Mental Health Response to the 2009 Victorian Bushfires provides funding for:
    • Community Capacity Building – including mental health training, professional development and support to primary and secondary schools affected by the fires and frontline training for non-health professional community leaders and key community members. The professional development is being targeted to the teachers and school staff in these schools to better respond to bushfire affected children, better identify those with early signs and symptoms of mental health disorders which may require professional assistance and understand when to refer to appropriate services and
    • Supporting Health Professionals - the delivery of specialised training and support to GPs, general nurses and specialist mental health practitioners. Top of page
  • A cross-professional working group was established to inform the delivery of education and training from mid-2009 for professionals working with those affected by the Victorian bushfires. The Cross-Professional Education and Training Working Group comprises experts from each medical and allied mental health profession and others with expertise in trauma management.
  • The Working Group has endorsed a framework for the delivery of education and training which is inclusive of the ATAPS providers. The Framework for Mental Health Response to the Victorian Bushfires identifies three levels of training requirements for professionals providing psychological care for people affected by the bushfires, as follows:
    • Level 1: Generic Workers (Teachers, Clergy, Welfare workers, Youth workers, Maternal health care nurses, etc.)
    • Level 2: Primary Care Health Workers (ATAPS, GPs, Nurses, Psychologists, Social Workers, Occupational Therapists, etc.) and
    • Level 3: Specialist Mental Health Workers (Postgraduate Psychologists, Psychiatrists, some ATAPS workers, etc.).
  • Funding has been provided to the Australian Psychological Society (APS) to work with the Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health to develop and deliver education, training and support to GPs and ATAPS allied health professionals within the affected Divisions of General Practice.
  • The Department has also provided funding to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists to provide training and support for psychiatrists working with clients affected by the bushfires. This includes resources and workshops to improve psychiatrists' knowledge and competency in trauma responses as well as referral pathways to assist GPs refer their patients appropriately. Top of page
  • The Mental Health in Tertiary Curricula Program provided funding to various allied health professions to review and update their existing accreditation standards in relation to mental health best practice. The Program also funded the development and implementation of projects to increase the mental health content of tertiary curricula. In January 2010 the Program was expanded and universities were invited to apply for funding to develop multi disciplinary training modules for students in allied health, nursing and medical disciplines.
  • COAG Improving the Capacity of Workers in Indigenous Communities initiative which supports health workers to identify and address mental illness and sub use and to recognise early signs of mental illness in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Mental Health Textbook is a textbook for use by health practitioners working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and students in the Vocational Education Training (VET) and tertiary education sector nationally.
  • Mental Health Toolkit (previously Multi-Media Resource) for health practitioners working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Aboriginal Health Workers, nurses, counsellors and other clinic staff) including a range of mental health literacy, health promotion and training resources. Health Outcomes International is currently undertaking a scoping study which will inform the development of the Toolkit, which may include the development or adaptation of a assessment tool(s).
  • Mental Health Assessment Tool for health practitioners working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Aboriginal Health Workers, nurses, counsellors and other clinic staff) undertaking mental health assessments for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including those with co-morbidities of mental health issues in conjunction with substance use issues. Health Outcomes International is currently undertaking a scoping study which will inform the development of the Toolkit, which may include the development or adaptation of a assessment tool(s).
  • Mental Health Worker Positions (ten) have been provided nationally, as well as development of resources and information to support health practitioners to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at risk of, or experiencing mental illness.
  • 25 Peggy Hunter Memorial Scheme scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students undertaking studies in a mental health discipline across the fields of medicine, nursing, allied health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker courses. Top of page

Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

  • Service providers funded through the Targeted Community Care (mental health) Program are required to have mental health training. Mental health education is embedded in the principles of the Program.

Human services portfolio

  • Centrelink has commenced a national roll-out of Mental Health First Aid training to its staff. This program is aimed at better informing and skilling our staff in their interactions with customers presenting with mental health issues.

Department of Veterans' Affairs

  • The Department commissioned the Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health (ACPMH) to develop a clinical algorithm for health practitioners based on the National Health and Medical Research Council Australian Guidelines for the Treatment of Adults with Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The algorithm aims to assist practitioners in providing best practice clinical care for people with ASD or PTSD. The algorithm has been widely distributed to primary care providers, specifically those in general practice.
  • A Mental Health Advice Book for health practitioners helping veterans with common mental health problems was developed to assist all health practitioners to deliver the most effective mental health treatment for veterans. It draws upon the latest Australian and international best practice guidelines for the treatment of common mental health problems.
  • A Suicide Awareness Staff Training Package for Centrelink staff was developed to assist frontline workers to identify and appropriately respond to and refer members of the veteran community to appropriate related mental health services, if required. Top of page

Department of Defence

  • As part of the goal to improve mental health training for the workforce, the Defence Acute Mental Health on Operations (AMHOO) course will be delivered to all deploying health professionals. This course specifically addresses management of acute military mental health issues on operations.
  • Regional mental health teams are an important part of enhancing the mental health workforce and will be created to provide mental health literacy training, specifically suicide prevention and alcohol, tobacco and other drugs programs.
  • The Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health has been contracted to develop and deliver clinical case management training both face to face and online modules to enhance effective evidence based models of care delivery within the multi-disciplinary care team.