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Discipline Specific Workforce Scoping - Occupational Therapy, Enrolled Nursing, Social Work

The CMHL welcomed exciting new Statewide Mental Health Educator roles in Occupational Therapy, Enrolled Nursing, and Social Work. As part of these new roles, discipline specific scoping commenced to identify the profile of the workforces and professional development needs. This work prioritises the focus of the CMHL roles and lays the foundations for strategic planning for Victorian public mental health workforce development.

A data collection tool was developed and piloted to support the scoping activity. Consultations via virtual semi-structured interviews between CMHL discipline educators and the Victorian Public Mental Health discipline representatives commenced in December 2020. The CMHL Educators collected quantitative data (workforce EFT, grades/level, positions, etc.) and qualitative data (discipline specific activity, leadership, professional development). This established a centralised, comprehensive baseline data set, detailing the workforce profile and setting foundation for strategic planning and workforce development.

This scoping provided invaluable data to inform workforce development and support the growth of the workforce.


Statewide Mental Health Occupational Therapy Workforce Scoping 

A total of 545 occupational therapists work in Victorian public clinical area mental health services, and are employed in diverse roles, including clinical (80%), management (9%), OT discipline leadership (3%), service development (2%), education (2%), projects (2%), research (0.3%) and other roles. In regional areas there is a predominance of grade 2 roles compared to metropolitan.

The scoping results identified OT current workforce development priorities as:

  • Sensory modulation
  • OT Supervision
  • OT Assessments
  • OT Leadership
  • Occupational Formulation & Goal Setting
  • OT Groups

The scoping results formed the foundations for visioning and strategic planning. The CMHL Educator and the OTLN participated in two workshops to collaboratively develop a Strategic Plan, to include:

  • A shared strategic vision
  • A set of principles/values
  • Strategic objectives and measures of success
  • Plans for strengthening/establishing productive partnerships
  • A strategic Roadmap highlighting key priorities and strategic activity for the next 2 years


The scoping findings have been presented to services and key stakeholders, such as Occupational Therapy Australia. A de-identified statewide report of findings is being drafted to share with services and will include the strategic plan as part of the recommendations.

The occupational therapy educator is using the data and findings to develop and deliver training, workforce development activities, and establish sustainable communities of practice. As the top workforce development priority was identified as sensory modulation, the 2021 OT Education Day will be a Sensory Modulation Forum.

Now that initial organisational scoping is complete, the next stages planned are:

  • Stage 2: A Workforce Survey
  • Stage 3: Experiences of People & Families receiving OT service in AMHS


Statewide Mental Health Enrolled Nurse Workforce Scoping Project

The Statewide Mental Health Enrolled Nurse Educators conducted interviews with senior representatives from each AMHS plus Forensicare between December 2020 and June 2021:

  • Identifying EN positions in various areas and teams
  • Understanding the availability of EN early career programs
  • Considering EN leadership, clinical supervision, and advanced practice, and
  • Discussing the role of Statewide Mental Health Enrolled Nurse Educators to support MHEN development

A Mental Health Enrolled Nurse full-day consultation was conducted on 24 Feb 2021, with 25 enrolled nurses from 14 AMHS and Forensicare exploring professional experiences and discussing and identifying workforce development priorities. See some of the frindings from the day here.

The scoping study provided a wonderful opportunity to fully explore the work done by MHENs across Victoria, and to develop relationships with ENs and their supporters. We found that:

  • The range of MHEN roles and opportunities varies between services
  • Leadership structures, EN3 advanced practice promotion opportunities and clinical supervision processes were sometimes unclear for MHENs.
  • There is limited specific MHEN training available.
  • There is increasing demand for MHEN entry-level programs

The top workforce development priorities identified at the consultation day were:

  • Strengthen EN participation in initiatives such as Safewards, Physical Health and Clinical Supervision
  • Enhance skills in person-centred non- pharmacological interventions to help reduce or eliminate restrictive interventions
  • Strengthen strategies of self-care and reflective practice to reduce compassion fatigue and burnout
  • Improve collaborative practices with Lived Experience Workforces
  • Training regarding wellness promotion and management of physical deterioration
  • Initiatives to support EN career progression and leadership

A de-identified statewide report of findings from these consultations will be availble soon. The EN educators will also use the findings to develop and deliver MHEN specific training and facilitate an MHEN Practice Group to support ongoing planning.


Statewide Mental Health Social Work Workforce Scoping Project

The social work project is underway and information will be available soon. 


Phoebe Williamson (Parental Leave)

Statewide Mental Health Occupational Therapy Educator

Shaina Serelson

Statewide Mental Health Enrolled Nurse Educator

Karen Hewitt

Statewide Mental Health Enrolled Nurse Educator

Oliver McDougall-Fisher

Statewide Mental Health Enrolled Nurse Educator

Jacara Egan

Statewide Mental Health Social Work Educator

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