Australian mental health workforce: State and national policy imperatives and implications for workforce development

Russell Roberts, Chris Maylea

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review

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Australia’s mental health sector is undergoing a period of intense reform, reflecting worldwide shifts in the way governments deliver mental health services. This will have major implications for the configuration of the mental health workforce now and into the future. Every Australian state and territory has new or amended mental health legislation, and since October 2015 five of the eight states and territories have launched new mental health strategic plans. Services are becoming more integrated and new partnerships are emerging, breaking down the old workforce silos. Amongst these developments, the mental health workforce, the people and disciplines who actually deliver mental health services, have been in a similar state of flux. The shift to competitive tendering has seen a significant rise in the community managed workforce, and peer workers, consumer and carer representatives. Deinstitutionalisation has seen a corresponding increase in the largely unpaid carer workforce. In the midst of this changing landscape, the policy agenda which guides the development of the mental health workforce is a sentinel factor. This presentation draws on a systematic descriptive policy review undertaken to synthetise the state of contemporary Australian mental health workforce policy, reviewing 7 national level policy documents and 10 state and territory policy documents. Key trends are identified and the implications for future of the mental health workforce development will be discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Mental Health Conference 2017 Book of Proceedings
Place of PublicationNerang
PublisherAustralian and New Zealand Mental Health Association
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9781922232571
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event18th International Mental Health Conference 2017 - Conference Centre, Sea World Resort, Gold Coast, Australia
Duration: 21 Aug 201723 Aug 2017 (Conference website)


Conference18th International Mental Health Conference 2017
Abbreviated titleMental Health and the Journey of Life
CityGold Coast
OtherThe 2017 Conference will be held at the Conference Centre, Sea World Resort, Gold Coast, Queensland from Monday 21 August – Wednesday 23 August 2017.
This year’s conference will examine a range of issues from the perspective of Primary Interventions, Promoting Recovery,  Preventing Relapse and the latest Policy Initiatives.

Mental health awareness and well-being strategies remain urgent public concerns.  The Conference will focus on the range of complex mental issues affecting the elderly including depression, dementia, delirium, paranoid disorders and anxiety. It will also explore the mental health issues of young Australians (aged 18 – 24 years) struggling with schizophrenia, depression, suicidal thoughts, bipolar, anxiety disorders and drug use and drug induced psychosis.

Mental health problems have become one of the leading causes for absenteeism from work and early retirement all over Australia. Maintaining good mental health at the workplace is therefore not only essential for the individual but also a challenge facing business and society as a whole. There is considerable business and political interest in tackling poor mental health at work.

The conference will also examine state, federal, international and COAG initiatives, early intervention strategies, validated treatments, suicide prevention and the effectiveness of mental health preventive measures.

Featuring Australia and New Zealand’s leading practitioners, academics, researchers, mental health experts, NGO’s and policy makers, the conference will motivate and inspire professionals (and future professionals).  All delegates will have access to the program podcast library and Book of Proceedings included in their registration fees.
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