Building our mental health workforce

The range of mental health and wellbeing services is expanding in Victoria. These services need a diverse, skilled and multidisciplinary workforce. The Royal Commission recommended a range of structural workforce reforms. These reforms aim to attract, train and transition the staff needed for Victoria's mental health services. These include non-government organisations, community services, and Local, Area and Statewide Mental Health and Wellbeing Services.

Recommendation 57 proposed development of a Mental Health and Wellbeing Workforce Strategy to be released by the end of 2021. The Strategy will help build the workforce we need for sustainable delivery of mental health reforms. It will focus on strategies to address key challenges over the immediate, medium and longer term. This includes workforce supply, wellbeing and capability, as well as developing the regional and rural workforce. The Strategy will be revised every two years to support ongoing reform.

The Strategy builds on the 2021-22 Victorian State Budget’s $206 million investment to grow the mental health workforce. This means more mental health nurses, doctors, allied health professionals, lived experience workers and support staff and sits within the broader program of sector reforms. This work includes the significant progress already underway to implement existing strategies for the consumer mental health workforce, the family carer mental health workforce, and the alcohol and other drug (AOD) peer workforce in Victoria.

Consultation activities to date

This consultation process for the Strategy has built on previous and ongoing engagement with a wide range of mental health stakeholders. This includes the extensive consultation that informed the Royal Commission’s final report and the Department of Health acknowledges the valued contributions of experts and stakeholders including people with lived experience.

On 30th July 2021 a Mental Health Workforce Forum was held with over 130 stakeholders from across the mental health system to discuss four key focus areas for inclusion in the Mental Health and Wellbeing Workforce Strategy – workforce supply, wellbeing, capability and rural and regional workforce development. The opportunities for development and potential solutions across these focus areas can be found in the attached ‘Mental Health Workforce Forum Detailed outcomes’ document.

To build on the Forum, a series of workshops that cover the areas of workforce supply, capability, wellbeing and rural and regional workforces are being held across August-October. Sector representatives and those with lived experience have been carefully selected to participate in this process to ensure cross-cutting representation and to enable meaningful engagement in a small group setting.

A separate workforce census survey has recently been undertaken to gather data about the workforce that will inform the Strategy. In October personnel working across the mental health sector will be invited to participate in a survey that provides insights into mental health workforce including worker wellbeing and the Capability Framework.

While the Strategy will set some important priorities, the department will continue to work closely with our stakeholders and the community in the implementation of the Strategy following its release.

How to participate

The Department of Health wants to provide further opportunity for input, in addition to the Royal Commission consultations, recent Forum, workshops and workforce surveys. Considering the input summarised in the Forum Summary we are seeking your views on:

What additional opportunities are there to address workforce challenges within the priority themes of:

  • Workforce wellbeing
  • Workforce supply
  • Workforce capability
  • Rural and regional workforce issues

Next steps

Responses will inform the continued development of the Strategy prior to its release in December 2021. Implementation of the Strategy will also be informed through your responses to this and other engagement processes.

Privacy collection notice

The Department of Health (the department) is committed to protecting your privacy. Following the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, the department is working to implement all its recommendations.

The department will collect and handle responses. You may respond to some or all of the questions asked.

You are asked not to submit any personally identifying or sensitive health information (about you or anyone else) in your response. The department will take reasonable steps to ensure there is no personally identifying information in responses before analysing and using those responses. The department will collate responses and use them to understand people’s views on the proposals in the paper.

The contents of your response will not be published but will be used to inform the development of the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Workforce Strategy. If you do not provide us with the information requested in the survey, this may limit the department’s ability to use your response in the development of the new Strategy.

For more information on the department’s privacy practices, please refer to the department’s privacy policy, available on our website at https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/publications/privacy-policy

As responses are not intended to be identifying, it will not be possible for you to access or correct your response. The department can be contacted on mentalhealthworkforce@health.vic.gov.au.