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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 https://learn.vtmh.org.au/ 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

A culturally safe & responsive mental health system: ECCV & VTMH joint recommendations

The impact of the failures of the state’s mental health system on the mental health and wellbeing of Victoria’s migrant and refugee communities and recommendations for a transformed, culturally responsive mental health system are outlined in a new paper released today.

Produced by the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria [ECCV], in partnership with Victorian Transcultural Mental Health [VTMH], the Recommendations for a Culturally Responsive Mental Health System paper sets out how the mental health reforms underway in Victoria could also lead to better mental health services and outcomes for people from migrant and refugee backgrounds.

It outlines key considerations for a mental health system that supports the needs of a diverse community and that is culturally safe, culturally responsive, equitable and inclusive for all members of the community.

The paper was commissioned by the Victorian Government, Department of Health to identify ways the mental health system in Victoria can increase its cultural responsiveness and improve access to mental health services for people from migrant and refugee backgrounds.

The implementation of the ECCV-VTMH report’s recommendations will help build a more contemporary, effective and culturally responsive approach to mental health reform in Victoria.

The paper regards human rights-based and intersectional approaches as integral to mental healthcare. This involves addressing the systemic barriers that lead to discrimination and exclusion as well as engaging diverse communities as partners.

It also calls for partnerships with multicultural services, ethno-specific community organisations and people with lived experience to overcome the many barriers that prevent people from migrant and refugee backgrounds from accessing support.

Key recommendations include:

  • Developing and applying a strengths-based model to engage with migrant and refugee communities to draw upon their lived experiences of community mobilisation and mutual support
  • Ensuring all decision-making bodies are representative of the diversity of the community
  • Developing the capability of the mental health workforce to deliver culturally safe and responsive care and ensuring services are more representative of the cultural diversity of the community
  • Building partnerships with people with lived experience, ethno-cultural and multicultural organisations, community leaders and advocates to design and deliver mental health services
  • Improving access to professional interpreters who are mental health trained

Download the media release here

Download the full report here

Exploring intersectionality

Thinkers, practitioners, storytellers and researchers from across Australia got together in September to talk about how to apply an intersectional lens. Silvana Izzo from VTMH joined this inaugural session, initiated by Professor Olena Hankivsky, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne. 

Professor Hankivsky, respected expert in intersectionality, is Chair of Women’s Health and Director of the Centre for Health Equity Gender and Women’s Health Unit. We’ve been exploring her body of work, here at VTMH, for the past five years, thinking through the implications and playing our part in applying an intersectional framework to public mental health practice. 

Find out more about VMTH’s work in this area and follow links to resources, including Professor Hankivsky’s work on COVID-19 and intersectionality, here.

Did you catch our September webinar, ‘Community voices: Cultural safety in the times of COVID-19?’

The pandemic has cast a light on the many unaddressed systemic issues affecting for communities living in public housing in inner city Melbourne. This session discussed the mental health implications, innovative community-led responses and the kinds of action government and services still need to take, with communities as partners.

The webinar featured respected therapists, community volunteers and advocates. It was collaboratively developed with the panelists and facilitated by VTMH’s Shehani De Silva.

Links to community projects, background reading plus a recording of the session are now available.

Follow this link for event information and to watch the video

VTMH at Royal Commission hearings

Adriana Mendoza, VTMH Manager, appeared at the Commission on Thursday, 18 July, 2019 as part of a session that considered how the mental health system engages with, recognises and responds to the needs of diverse communities, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people; and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.