Bendigo Health’s Aboriginal Mental Health trainees hope their new positions will help drive social and emotional wellbeing changes for Aboriginal peoples, as the state government looks to expand the Indigenous mental health workforce.
The state government’s $3.5 million Aboriginal Mental Health Traineeship Program recently created 10 positions across Victoria, two of which are in Bendigo.
The three-year program combines clinical placements with tertiary mental health studies.
Bendigo Health’s two trainees – Alva Connelly and Matthew Crook – met with Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley on Monday.
Ms Connelly said embedding more Indigenous Australians in the mental health service would improve Aboriginal access to services.
“It’s important to get more people in to the service and enable more of our people to access the mental health services and also be part of the fight to get our own emotional wellbeing services in our communities that service our own people as well - that’s what I would like to see long-term,” she said.
Mr Crook said: "Initially all I want out of it is more knowledge, better understanding, more ways to help."
The state government has also put $4.9 million toward building an Aboriginal mental health workforce - supporting a number of new, senior Aboriginal clinical and therapeutic positions in Aboriginal community-controlled health services.
“We all know Indigenous Victorians are overrepresented when it comes to negative and poor outcomes in mental health and wellbeing,” Minister Foley said.
“We need to make sure our services are culturally appropriate and safe, so our Indigenous brothers and sisters feel the service is a part of their communities just as much as other Victorians.”
Minister Foley said he expected the needs of priority communities like Indigenous Australians will be at the forefront considerations of the ongoing Royal Commission into Mental Health.
The graduates will be offered ongoing employment at Bendigo Health once their three-year degree is complete.