The focus of the National Mental Health Commission’s national review has been to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of programmes and services in supporting individuals experiencing mental ill health and their families and other support people to lead a contributing life and to engage productively in the community.
One of the terms of reference for the review is to examine mental health workforce development and the specific challenges for regional, rural and remote Australia. Our work reviewed current local approaches, sought out successful approaches in other health and human service systems, and considered the training, education and recruitment strategies to sustain and promote good practice and flexible workforce models. In particular, this looked at the development of a peer workforce. Through this analysis we identified the optimal workforce components within mental health services, to propose strategies to respond to new service and support approaches in mental health programmes and services in Australia. This included responding to new initiatives such as the NDIS.
The issues in rural and remote practice, including recruitment, retention, professional development and support; local integrated models and leveraging e-health and technologies, and the specific issues facing local communities, were all canvassed within the Review to see where the evidence pointed to best practice and the steps needed to implement that. Flexible and emerging service models also need flexible workforces for rural and remote Australia, to ensure we close the service gap between those living in rural Australia and their city cousins.