The Victorian Government has announced new reforms to expand and support the mental health workforce.

The programs create new jobs in the mental health sector and more training and education opportunities.

The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System recommended the reforms in its interim report. 

The changes aim to help overcome critical workforce shortages, especially in regional and rural areas. 

The Victorian Government has allocated $14.3 million for the workforce readiness package. It includes:

  • an extra 29 full-time junior medical officer (JMO) positions across Victoria. This is equal to 130 more JMO psychiatry rotations in 2021.
  • an expansion of the Graduate Mental Health Nurse program, creating 80 new positions across the state.
  • an extra 35 nurse educator positions in public mental health services across Victoria. 
  • 70 new Victorian Postgraduate Mental Health Nurse Scholarships.

Victorian Postgraduate Mental Health Nurse Scholarships 

Up to 70 Victorian Postgraduate Mental Health Nurse Scholarships will be awarded to nurses in Victoria. 

To qualify, mental health nurses must be enrolled in a semester 1, 2021 approved postgraduate course. The scholarship pays the full course cost. 

Mental Health Reform Victoria has developed the scholarship program in partnership with the Office of the Chief Mental Health Nurse.  

The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) is managing applications through its website. Planning is underway to deliver 140 scholarships annually from 2022. 

Junior medical officer (JMO) program 

The JMO program aims to encourage more medical trainees to specialise in psychiatry. Placements are state-wide and ensure access to quality training and support opportunities. 

From 2023, all medical trainees in Victoria will complete a mandatory psychiatry rotation. This will help all doctors develop essential mental health skills, whether they choose to specialise in psychiatry or not. 

MHRV has collaborated with the sector, mental health services, and people with a lived experience to develop a comprehensive new training and supervision framework to support JMOs.

Graduate mental health nurse program 

An expansion of the graduate mental health nurse program will increase the supply of mental health nurses in Victoria. 

Graduate mental health nurses will learn a range of skills to support positive outcomes of people experiencing mental illness and their families and carers.

An extra 35 senior nurse educators will support the graduate mental health nurses. 
Priority was given to positions in rural and regional settings to support growth of the workforce in these communities.