The Australian Government has established a $5.15 million scholarship program to grow and upskill the mental health and suicide prevention workforce to ensure that all Australians have access to high quality, affordable, person centred mental health care when they need it.
The Mental Health Nursing and Allied Health Scholarship Program was announced as part of the Morrison Government’s record $2.3 billion investment in mental health and suicide prevention in the 2021–22 Budget to attract, train and retain key mental health professionals and to address workforce pressures.
The Program will provide 278 scholarships to support mental health nurses and allied health practitioners including psychologists to enter the mental health workforce, in addition to upskilling existing health practitioners in the mental health sector.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said the scholarships will allow health care professionals to complete mental health related tertiary, vocational and continued professional development courses and clinical placements in mental health settings
“Across Australia our mental health workforce has been stretched, particularly during the pandemic, and there are plenty of opportunities for health care workers to move into rewarding work in mental health,” Minister Hunt said.
“Providing opportunities for health care professionals to access appropriate training in mental health and suicide prevention will increase the numbers of skilled professionals to meet demand for services now and into the future,” Minister Hunt said.
Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, David Coleman, said investing in mental health training for health care professionals will also promote mental health as a career option.
“The program will provide 126 postgraduate nursing scholarships for courses related to mental health and suicide prevention,” Assistant Minister Coleman said.
“It will also support up to 152 allied health practitioners including psychologists working in mental health and suicide prevention for related tertiary, vocational and continuing professional development courses and clinical placements.”
The Program will also focus on rural and remote locations, with priority given to health care workers who live and/or work in these rural areas (MM 3-7).
Minister for Regional Health, Dr David Gillespie, said the program aims to address mental health workforce pressure nationally, including those in rural and remote areas of Australia.
“Access to skilled mental health workers shouldn’t be dependent on where you live, and upskilling health workers who are already living and working in rural and remote Australia is a great way to expand their skills and meet their communities’ needs,” Minister Gillespie said.
“For this reason, there will be a preference for applicants living or working in rural and remote areas.”
Alongside the prioritisation for applicants from rural and remote regions, a minimum of five per cent of scholarships will be made available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants as first priority. This will ensure vital services are available for all Australians and can be delivered in a culturally safe and appropriate way.
Individuals can express their interest in applying for a place from November 2021 through the Australian College of Nursing. The scholarships will be supported from Semester 1, 2022