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Presenting our community projects and participation at the Department of Health Diverse Communities Team round table

The Department of Health (DoH), Diverse Communities’ Team, in response to its ongoing alliance with VTMH, invited VTMH to participate in a number of events.

VTMH was invited to present at the DoH monthly lunch and learn seminar (organised by the Diverse Communities’ Team) on our experience of engaging with communities. The session was attended by about 40 persons from a variety of divisions within the DoH. These included public servants within the Mental Health & Wellbeing Division from Policy Officers to Directors.

VTMH was also invited to a roundtable which focused on the Diverse Communities Team’s engagement approach for the development of the Framework and Blueprint for Action. The Roundtable focused on the who, how, when and where the team should engage with community members and the sector. This session was attended by many key stakeholders.

VTMH has since been invited to participate in the Diverse Communities’ Mental Health & Wellbeing Working Group. This group has been established in line with the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, to ‘provide expert advice and guidance on the development of a diverse communities’ mental health and wellbeing framework and a blueprint for action’ (chapter 21.6.2, page 261, volume 3).

Workshop: New mental health and wellbeing outcomes and performance framework

On Friday, 13 May 2022 a workshop was held via Zoom to inform design of the new mental health and wellbeing outcomes and performance framework. 

This workshop was one of a series of workshops facilitated by Today Design for stakeholders across the mental health and wellbeing sector. The first workshops with consumers and carers have been held. Insights from consumer and carer workshops will guide discussion and activities in these sector workshops. 

Naomi Chapman from VTMH was invited to the session in May to contribute key themes and priorities to develop a shared vision for the future of mental health and wellbeing in Victoria. 

These themes included an understanding of intersectionality (where people are accepted into a mental health service in their entirety; they don’t have to pick or suppress various aspects of their identity), and how to hold hope for people with a lived experience of mental distress.

VTMH’s Lived Experience Community of Practice

On Monday, 6 December 2021 a small but committed group of people met to kick off VTMH’s Lived Experience Community of Practice (LE CoP). We discussed how to create a culturally safe space and identified our top three values – collaboration, diversity and advocacy.

Our second meeting on Thursday, 7 April 2022 focused on a presentation given by VTMH’s Consumer Consultant, Naomi Chapman, entitled “Dare to Care – Compassion in the Workplace.”

The overarching group objectives include:

  • How lived experience practitioners with diverse voices influence practice within their organisations and the mental health sector.
  • Systemic barriers and enablers that face lived experience practitioners from diverse backgrounds when trying to contribute or generate change. This will also become a relevant source of knowledge for the Department of Health (DoH).

The LE CoP group members represent various voices within the mental health system including those from culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) communities, those with experiences of migration, youth, and the LGBTIQA+ communities.

Our next meeting was held via Teams on Thursday, 9 June. It was facilitated by Kath Currey, Lived Experience Coordinator at NEAMI, and the topic was “Exploring diverse backgrounds and experiences in Lived Experience practice (the different ways in which we utilise a lived experience of diversity in our roles).”

Facilitators from VTMH are Naomi Chapman and Abie Jazi.

Darebin and YCH Project

VTMH was invited to collaborate with Darebin Council and Your Community Health (YCH) to co-design a project with community members from East Preston and Reservoir. The goals of the project were to develop a neighbourhood program that strengthens emotional and social well-being of the two communities.

VTMH’s involvement in this tri-partnership program was two fold: a) to develop a framework with the Community Advisory group members for the training and b) to deliver the training to community volunteers. This phase of the project has been completed as of June 2022. The project is now primarily led by YCH.

Star Health Partnership

VTMH has been in partnership with Star Health since 2020.

Over the last 2 years, VTMH has assisted Star Health to employ numerous strategies to support their cultural responsiveness practices and meet their identified goals to embed these measures. Some of these are: 

  • Workforce capacity building including workshops and reflective conversations;
  • Provision of resources;
  • Refinement of Star Health assessment tools;
  • Mentorship of their project leads (Anna Browne and Dominic Hwang).

For the final year of the partnership (2022-2023) we are planning to deliver a ‘Train the Trainer’ program for Star Health. It is hoped this will help towards a successful and sustainable model for implementation of cultural responsiveness across the organisation.

Meaningful collaboration with Tandem contributes to greater support for those caring and supporting family and friends living with mental health issues.

Recommendation 31 of the recent Royal Commission into Victoria’s mental health services outlined the establishment of eight family and carer-led centres across the state, to better respond to the needs of those caring and supporting family and friends up against mental health challenges.

Tandem, Victoria’s peak body representing family and friends supporting people living with mental health issues, was tasked with facilitating a co-design process to develop tender specifications to guide those services or organisations wishing to tender to run one or all eight centers.

VTMH was grateful for the opportunity to join the “Co-design Governance Group to contribute to this process that considered the needs of all carers across the breadth of Victoria’s richly diverse communities. We were also grateful to work alongside group members who ensured a depth of knowledge and experience informed this important design phase.

VTMH is excited to see Tandem’s final tender design and watch as the process progresses towards establishing the eight operational family and carer-led centers across the state.

VTMH Rural and Regional Approach Implementation Project

As a state-wide unit, VTMH is committed to work with and support the mental health and wellbeing sector to enhance cultural responsiveness, across the state of Victoria. This includes the rural and regional areas. 

We recently developed a Rural and Regional Approach document which represents our commitment to strengthening the relationship between VTMH and mental health and wellbeing services in these areas. 

The overall purpose of the Approach is to ensure that VTMH’s programs and services take into account the unique needs of the rural and regional mental health and wellbeing sector. Furthermore, it ensures that their perspectives are included and considered across all of VTMH’s programs and services. This is a whole of VTMH approach which seeks to:

  • Improve engagement with the rural and regional mental health and wellbeing sector to understand and embed their unique needs into the planning and development of VTMH programs and services.
  • Ensure that rural and regional mental health and wellbeing services have more opportunities to access VTMH programs and services.
  • Ensure that rural and regional mental health and wellbeing services are kept updated and informed about VTMH programs and services.
  • Ensure that VTMH develops a coordinated and sustained approach to doing this work to support increased engagement with the rural and regional areas into the long term.

As part of this work, we have now established a VTMH Rural and Regional Liaison Group with representatives from across each of the rural and regional mental health and wellbeing services across Victoria. The next step will involve developing a project proposal to connect with members and to facilitate a scoping consultation plan to identify service needs and barriers and recommendations for VTMH. We look forward to engaging with this group in meaningful ways.

Recovery and Assessment Workshop – updated

Over the past few months Justin Kuay and Naomi Chapman from VTMH have been updating the Recovery and Assessment workshop and are pleased to say that we are now ready to present it.

We have split the module into three parts:

  • Recovery and Assessment Part 1 (3 hour workshop)
  • Online learning from the VTMH website (Part 2). See and scroll down to click on the “Cultural Diversity and Assessment” module
  • Recovery and Assessment Part 3 (3 hour workshop)

    We presented the new module for the first time on Wednesday, 20 and Wednesday, 27 July 2022.

Spiritual care and mental healthcare 

In coming months, we’re once again joining with Spiritual Health Australia to talk about the spiritual aspects of mental healthcare. Following a webinar panel discussion in June, a new series of ‘Spirituality and diversity’ sessions will begin in August.

Registrations are now open for the first four sessions in this eight-part series. Open the links below for session and eligibility information. 

These small group sessions will offer a reflective space to share experiences and insights and unpack some of the unknowns that surround spirituality in mental health settings. 

Diversity equity and inclusion

We’ve published a new paper that outlines what it means to put diversity equity and inclusion (DEI) at the heart of a reformed public mental health service system.

This position paper begins by describing VTMH and key considerations regarding culture, intersectionality and mental health practice. It then outlines four areas of enquiry that are proposed as the basis on which to prioritise developing a DEI framework for Victoria’s mental health services. A review of relevant Victorian Government frameworks then follows, before a provisional outline of strategic domains is presented, along with their rationale and planning requirements.

Our key recommendation? Let’s work together, adopt high-level, integrated and strategic approaches and address Victoria’s mental healthcare system as a whole. We’ve identified six important domains:

  • Strategy
  • Governance
  • Policy environment
  • Workforce and practice
  • Community engagement and lived experience
  • Knowledge mobilisation

Go to our Reports and Publications page to read and download An Integrated Approach to Diversity Equity and Inclusion in Mental Health Service Provision in Victoria: A Position Paper