Recruiting underway for innovative mental health project

Sun, 03 Sep 2017 19:47:00 +0000

A ground-breaking program to test a new mental health treatment model for Aboriginal people in contact with the justice system is taking shape in Mildura.

Mallee District Aboriginal Services is leading the two-year demonstration project in partnership with Mildura Base Hospital and Mallee Family Care.

Key clinical staff are already being appointed to deliver the program and MDAS Social and Emotional Wellbeing Manager Raelene Stephens said a senior mental health professional was now being recruited to lead the Mildura Aboriginal Mental Health Consortium.

“The chance to make a real difference to the way clinical practice is delivered, to try new approaches and to innovate are quite rare in our field, so we’re expecting some really talented and committed people will be excited by the prospect to lead this project,” Ms Stephens said. 

“It’s a fantastic chance to really make our mark by finding new ways to treat people with moderate to severe mental illness who sometimes fall between the cracks because of the nature of their health and social support needs,” she said.

“This is about a collaborative therapeutic partnership between mental health clinicians, support workers, the person and their family with the management of, and responses to, illness.”

The demonstration project will provide culturally responsive mental health treatment for up to 180 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at any given time.

The target group is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 16 to 64 years who are on a community corrections order or who are regularly coming to the attention of police and are at risk of entering the justice system.

Aboriginal people are vastly over represented in the Australian juvenile and criminal justice system with an imprisonment rate 15 times that of non-indigenous Australians. Aboriginal people with mental illness or intellectual disability are over-represented at all stages of the criminal justice system.

As the lead agency, MDAS is employing staff for the demonstration project and will be the key point of contact for clients.

The project will sit within the Social and Emotional Wellbeing/Mental Health Service with service delivery to be from the MDAS Wellbeing Hub located in Orange Avenue Mildura, where project staff will be based.

Intake and referral processes will be undertaken by MDAS in cooperation with Mildura Base Hospital Mental Health Service.

 Ms Stephens said funding of $935,000 from the Department of Health and Human Services would allow the consortium to test if a more integrated approach to mental health support would help reduce the rate of recidivism.

“We know there are people who are emerging leaders in the mental health field who will be excited by the prospect of driving change in their sector,” Ms Stephens said.

Further information on the project and about the consortium positions is available on the MDAS website