Community Development

  •  Introduction

    Community development provides a framework for the implementation of community focussed activities as part of the Royal Children's Hospital Mental Health Service. Community development is premised on the assumption that improving the mental health and wellbeing of children adolescent's and their families can only be achieved through working in partnership with the community. This includes both the service system and client system.

    As well given the complexity of people's needs, it is clear that mental health services cannot work in isolation but must work together in an integrated way. Moreover, mental health services have a responsibility to strengthen the ability of services to manage the needs of children whose needs are being met in the community.

    Community Development therefore promotes:

    • The importance of service integration and co-ordination
    • Access to the service for communities with special needs
    • Early intervention and mental health promotion initiatives
    • Client participation strategies

    Community Plan 2007-2010

    Provides a framework for development of Community Development activities. A number of key areas for action were indentified through a community and organisational needs analysis conducted in 2007. From there seven areas of action have been developed

    1.  Build the capacity of the RCHIMHS to understand, engage and collaborate with service providers and consumers in its community.
    2. Build the capacity of the RCHIMHS to respond to cultural diversity within its community.
    3. Develop a service response to clients with dual diagnosis in collaboration with the regional drug and alcohol sector.
    4. Resource community organisations and schools in delivery of mental health care across the spectrum of intervention
    5. Strengthen the collaboration with the education sector in line with the recommendations of the CAMHS in Schools Report
    6. Develop an integrated response to identified vulnerable populations in the catchment through building relationships with community agencies and schools
    7. Build collaboration with the heath sector.


    Key initiatives of the RCH IMHP

    Community Reference Group

    This is an advisory group to the Integrated Mental Health Program that meets monthly and chaired by an independent chairperson. The group represents all the key stakeholders connected to the mental health service. The group provides feedback to the mental health service and facilitates collaboration between the service and the wider community. The composition of the group is reviewed regularly to ensure that the group reflects current policy directions.

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    Koori Social and Emotional Wellbeing

    Is a programme primarily aimed at promoting access of the Koori Community to the Mental Health Service. The programme is co-ordinated by the Koori Social and Emotional Wellbeing Worker. A key aspect of the work is engaging with the two key Koori Organisations in the region - the gathering place and the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service. A clinical outreach service has been established at the gathering place and a similar service is being negotiated with the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service.

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    A CALD advisory group comprised of external stakeholders is responsible for supporting the implementation of the services CALD Plan. This group's work is completed by the CALD liaison group where CALD portfolio holders from each team meet regularly to provide input on CALD issues and facilitate the interpretation of the CALD plan within the organisation. The CALD work is strongly supported by a strategic partnership between the RCH IMHP and the Victorian Transcultural Psychiatry Unit.

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    Festival for Healthy Living

    This is a state-wide early intervention and mental health promotion strategy to promote mental health and wellbeing in primary and secondary schools using the performing arts. The Festival for Healthy Living works in disadvantaged areas including areas affected by drought and bushfires. The current FHL project in the Western Metropolitan Region is a joint initiative with Neighbourhood Renewal and has a priority engaging with children and their families who come from refugee backgrounds.

    The program provides an opportunity for students to explore mental health issues by making use of drama performance and the arts facilitated by their teachers with the support of a community artist.

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    Consumer Participation

    The aim of the Consumer Participation Program is to encourage and facilitate service users to be active partners in their own care and treatment, as well as offering opportunities for them to contribute to service planning and delivery in order to improve the experience of consumers.

    The operation of the program is consistent with the DHS Consumer Participation Action Plan (2007) and is guided by the IMHP Consumer Participation Plan.

    The program is led by the Consumer Consultant who is a parent with personal experience of using the service for her child.  Her role involves facilitating consumer participation and integrating the consumer perspective within the service.  She consults with clients, parents, carers and families, and chairs the Consumer Reference Group that advises the service on the perspective of service users.

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