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Posted on 17 Oct 2022
Mental health

I came to Safer Care Victoria (SCV) following the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.  The work of the Chief Mental Health Nurse is broad and includes providing support to mental health nurses as well as advising on mental health nursing practices across the state. The role also advises on mental health nursing models of care and workforce development.

The development of the Mental Health Improvement Unit (MHIU) at SCV has been a positive outcome for both the sector and for my role, which now works alongside the other health Chiefs. MHIU was established in recognition that mental health touches on every aspect of the health sector including emergency departments, maternity services, and general practice.

Using Institute for Healthcare Improvement methodology, MHIU works closely with consumers and carers to drive improvements. This makes SCV an exciting place to be both personally and professionally. Working together, we can have a much bigger impact.

I am proud to be a mental health nurse and I have been for many years. I have worked clinically in inpatient settings, with community, and alcohol and drugs services, and have also worked as a manager and director of nursing across these areas .

I moved to Australia in the late 80s and bring a wealth of knowledge regarding mental health, nursing, change management, and addiction medicine. I became the Chief Mental Health Nurse with the Health Department in 2015, and understand the intersection between the health sector and the department, the relationships within the department, and how to navigate what can seem an ever changing environment .

I was also involved in the decommissioning process of the North Eastern Metropolitan Psychiatric Services (NEMPS) in the 90s where I learnt about strategic planning, change management, and processes. As we move through another major reform of mental health services in Victoria, I have drawn on these experiences.

My main priority over the next 6 months is to support and guide the work of the MHIU with the Director Camilla Radia-George, and I'm excited to start to see the Breakthrough Series Collaborative: Safety For All begin to show success in the sector. We are also listening and working with our senior mental health nursing leaders across the state to address an increase in occupational violence in our health services.

In response to the Royal Commission, the MHIU has also established several other collaborative projects and areas of work including:

  • the elimination of restrictive practices
  • increasing sexual safety in mental health inpatient settings
  • reducing compulsory treatment
  • reducing suicides in healthcare settings
  • Mental Health Learning Health Network
  • developing a plan for the sustainability of Safewards in mental health inpatient units
  • completing the research of the pilot introducing Safewards into an emergency setting and the general health ward
  • supporting community of practices for clinical nurse consultants, new enrolled nurse graduates programs, Safewards community of practice, mental health nurse practitioners community of practice
  • chairing the mental health nurse advisory committee and senior nurses forum
  • hosting forums for mental health nurse specialty groups throughout the year
  • chairing the mental health professional online development (MHPOD) intra-jurisdictional management committee
  • implementing the clinical supervision for mental health nurses framework.