Charles Sturt University will look to address ongoing mental health workforce shortages following a $2 million boost from the Department of Health and Aged Care.
The funding awarded to the Riverina-based university comes as part of the 10-year National Mental Health Workforce Strategy.
The National Mental Health Pathways to Practice Program aims to provide a roadmap to build a sustainable and skilled workforce able to deliver appropriate mental health treatment for a growing regional population.
With the awarded funds, the university will provide 229 nursing, 78 occupational therapy and 61 social work student placements through the program, which ends on 30 June 2025.
Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science and Health Professor Megan Smith said the program provided vital placement opportunities for students to learn on the job.
“We are proud to be involved in this program to better equip our nursing, occupational therapy and social work students to work in our communities where there is a desperate need for a mental health-trained workforce,” she said.
“This project will break down key barriers in providing our students with access to mental health placements in regional and rural areas.”
The university has also partnered with Recovery Camp, an award-winning provider of life-changing mental health programs that have been a transformative force in the mental health landscape over the past decade. The funding will allow Recovery Camp to boost its number of camps across the program period.
“Recovery Camp and Charles Sturt University have been working together for many years now, ensuring Charles Sturt pre-registration students have had the best possible mental health clinical placement experience,” Director and Co-founder of Recovery Camp Dr Christopher Patterson said.
“More than 230 Charles Sturt students have come to camp, learning firsthand from people with lived experience of mental illness, in a positive, activities-based environment.
“The opportunity of welcoming an additional 229 student nurses and expanding the experience to occupational therapy students is truly exciting. We are looking forward to the next couple of years, and beyond.”