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The federal government has established a $5.15 million scholarship program to help grow and upskill the country’s mental health and suicide prevention workforce to ensure Australians have greater access to mental healthcare.

The Mental Health Nursing and Allied Health Scholarship Program is part of an effort to attract, train and retain key mental health professionals and to address workforce pressures.

The program will provide 278 scholarships to support mental health nurses and allied health practitioners including psychologists to enter the mental health workforce, as well as upskilling existing health practitioners in the mental health sector.

Specifically, the program will provide 126 postgraduate nursing scholarships for courses related to mental health and suicide prevention, and support up to 152 allied health practitioners including psychologists working in mental health and suicide prevention for related tertiary, vocational and continuing professional development courses and clinical placements.

The drive will also focus on rural and remote locations, with priority given to health care workers who live and/or work in rural and remote Australia.

Alongside the prioritisation for applicants from rural and remote regions, a minimum of 5% of scholarships will be made available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants as first priority.

Individuals can express their interest in applying for a place from November 2021 through the Australian College of Nursing. The scholarships will be supported from Semester 1, 2022