Implementing a capability framework for Victoria’s mental health and wellbeing workforce

Therapist supporting participant with a hand on shoulder in a group therapy session

Over the past year, CEI has been working with the Victorian Department of Health’s Mental Health & Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) Workforce Development team to support implementation of Our workforce, our future, a Capability Framework for the Mental Health and Wellbeing Workforce.

Our workforce, our future was a cornerstone recommendation from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System,” explains Lorelle Zemunik, Principal Policy Officer with the Department of Health. “Consistency of practice, knowledge and skills across the spectrum of mental health settings, professions and individual roles was identified by the Royal Commission as core to a well-functioning mental health system. This Framework is vital for delivering safe, supportive care and safe, supportive work environments.”

The Framework sets out seven principles – common values, approaches, attitudes and ways of working – as well as 15 capabilities, reflecting essential knowledge and skills required to deliver safe and effective services in the Victorian system.

“There is a central focus on human rights, on respectful, compassionate and collaborative practice, and on understanding the diverse needs of consumers and their families and carers. The Framework recognises that nuanced and multidisciplinary practice is growing across clinical and community settings, and lived and living experience is increasingly acknowledged as critical to this,” says Lorelle.

“In setting out the collective knowledge, skills and ways of working needed for delivery of quality care, support and treatment, the Capability Framework, implemented well, will support an evolving multidisciplinary mental health workforce for Victoria.”

Ultimately, the Framework is centred on creating and sustaining systemwide practice change.

CEI is applying insights from implementation science to support use of the framework across the sector.

“It’s all about bringing the Framework into regular and sustained use,” says CEI Advisor Josie Tremain, a social worker with frontline experience in mental health.

“We’ve commenced by building implementation science knowledge and capacity within the Mental Health and AOD Workforce Development team, alongside an intentional program of implementation-focused activities.”

“For instance, to drive implementation at the system level, a statewide Central Implementation Team was established last year – a coalition of senior leaders bringing together lived experience, clinical, operational, workforce development and statewide capacity-building expertise, from a variety of mental health organisations.”

This year, CEI will be developing an Implementation Guide for the mental health workforce (a first for Victoria) to support the Framework's implementation within organisations – a key resource for driving local implementation.

“A central focus of the work in 2024 will be spreading implementation science expertise among the broader mental health workforce,” Josie explains. “The Implementation Guide will support local implementation of Our workforce, our future. This will be pivotal in responding to local workforce needs, and ultimately in providing better mental health services for consumers, families, carers and supporters.”

More information and a download of the Workforce Capability Framework, Our workforce, our future is available HERE