This year we saw the CMHL Statewide Social Work Educator Position continue to evolve and change to meet the workforce development needs of social workers in the Victorian public mental health sector. Through proactive engagement with social workers in mental health across the state, sector scoping, and active participation in the Victorian Public Mental Health Social Work Leadership Network (SWLN), we have continued to look for opportunities to maximize the impact of this position for the benefit of the social work discipline’s ongoing growth and contribution to a rapidly changing and growing mental health sector.
We learnt a lot about social work identity and workforce needs over the last year. Scoping has shown that there were more than 885 social workers employed across the state making it the second-largest workforce in Victorian public mental health services.. This number has since increased with the introduction of social work graduates and social work clinical educators attached to the Victorian Department of Health’s Mental Health Workforce and Wellbeing Strategy. Across the state, only about 10% of social workers are in roles that are discipline-specific. This means that the vast majority of social workers are trying to define their practice and professional identity in ‘generic roles’ where their position description and scope of practice may not provide clear guidance on how to do so. To strengthen the contribution of social work practice within integrated multidisciplinary teams the sector has identified the following five workforce development priorities:
- Family Therapy
- Supervision Training
- Family Violence
- Focused Psychological Skills
- Fundamental Clinical Mental Health Skills
Our focus over 2022 included:
- Free and accessible training for social workers around the five workforce development priority areas identified in sector scoping.
- Reflective sessions around identity, ethics, and self-care to support the well-being and sustainability of the social work workforce through a period of change and challenge.
- Provide coordination and secretariat functions for the SWLN.
- Supporting connection and networking through a 2022 statewide SW forum, site visits, and shared SW supervision database.
We had some social work-specific education sessions available on the CMHL AMHS Calendar including:
- Power and Ethics in Mental Health Social Work Practice
- SSFC for social work
- Social Work Forum
In March 2021- December 2021 we undertook sector scoping to identify the profile and workforce development needs of Social Work across AMHS. Please see the summary infographic HERE.
If you would like to know more or share your ideas please get in touch!
Statewide Mental Health Social Work Educator