The Victorian Government has announced a $23.6 million mental health nursing workforce package that will provide people experiencing mental health concerns with greater access to specialised support.
The boost to upskill and expand the state’s mental health nursing workforce includes investing in more graduate positions and upskilling current nurses with a new postgraduate mental health scholarship program.
The recent Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System recommended at least 120 more funded graduate nurses each year be employed in public health services in areas of need to deliver vital care.
In response, the Victorian Government is investing $18.6 million for an extra 150 full-time equivalent graduate mental health nurse positions and 49 nurse educator positions across 18 public health services in 2022, on top of 115 positions funded last year.
A third of all positions will be based in regional Victoria – where increases in staff levels can have a huge impact on the level of care provided, the Government said. Services include Albury Wodonga Health, Mildura Base Hospital, Ballarat Health Service, Bendigo Health, Latrobe Regional Hospital, Goulburn Valley Health, South West Healthcare and Barwon Health.
Extra nurse educator positions have also been funded for rural and regional services across the Grampians region in Ballarat, Ararat, Horsham and South West Healthcare.
Meanwhile, across the state, the Government is also investing $5.05 million towards the new Victorian Postgraduate Mental Health Nurse Scholarship program in a bid to help develop the specialised skills needed to care for people with more acute mental illness or psychological distress.
This year’s scholarships have been awarded to 124 nurses working in mental health settings across metropolitan and regional Victoria. The scholarship pays the full course cost of a Graduate Diploma in Mental Health Nursing or contributes to a Master of Mental Health Nursing.
Applications are now open for 140 new scholarships, worth up to $20,000, for 2022, administered by the Australian College of Nursing. For more information, visit acn.edu.au/scholarships.
Applications close on Wednesday, 3 November 2021.