New positions to ease child and adolescent psychiatry shortage in Victoria

12 November 2020
 
 
 

The Victorian Branch of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) has welcomed the Victorian Government’s announcement of funding for specialist training roles in child and adolescent psychiatry to address shortages in this area.

This investment in the mental health workforce is a key step to supporting COVID-19 recovery efforts and is particularly timely in the lead-up to the release of the Final Report for the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.

’Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted gaps in mental healthcare in Victoria and shone a light on the strain within the system’, said Victorian Branch Chair, Dr Kerryn Rubin.

‘As a group, the mental health impact of COVID-19 has been most significant for young people.’

‘We know that recovering from COVID-19 and building a better mental health sector for the future relies on a well-supported and appropriately funded workforce.

‘Within the psychiatry workforce, there are currently too few child and adolescent psychiatrists to meet the needs of young people.

‘Failure to address mental illness in childhood can have enduring consequences. This is why an increase in the number of people trained to help our children and young people is so essential.

‘This funding for additional registrar positions in child and adolescent psychiatry will help to increase the number of doctors able to complete their psychiatry training.

’We, as a Branch, have continued to draw attention to the shortage of psychiatrists in Victoria, as well as bottlenecks within the training program, through the 2017 Victorian Psychiatry Workforce Report and the Victorian Branch 2020-21 Pre-Budget Submission.’

The RANZCP Victorian Branch also acknowledges the importance of ensuring lived experience is embedded within the mental health workforce and broader system reform.

The announcement from the State government includes $12.6 million in funding for additional job training opportunities to support students and job seekers looking to pursue a career in the mental health sector. The package includes:

  • $7.7 million for specialist training roles in child and adolescent psychiatry to expand workforce capacity to address the shortage of trained psychiatrists in these roles, including in regional areas;
  • $1.8 million for part time work in mental health services for undergraduates while completing their studies to provide valuable work experience in the sector and early exposure to the benefits of a rewarding career in mental health; and
  • $3.1 million for training places for experienced general nurses to retrain as mental health nurses.

The funding for specialist training roles is allocated over two years to provide 10 new entry level positions for recently qualified psychiatric registrars supported by two consultant psychiatrist positions in the child and youth mental health system.

’Our trainee psychiatrists are the future of the Victorian mental health workforce’, added Dr Rubin.

‘They are often on the front-line of services, as well as being the first point of contact for families and carers.

‘It is positive to see the Victorian government taking steps to address the gap in child and adolescent psychiatrists. This measure will directly contribute to ensuring children and young people are able to get the care they need.’

For all other expert mental health information, visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.

ENQUIRIES: For more information, or to arrange an interview call Sarah Carr on +61 437 315 911, or email media@ranzcp.org