Academic Child Psychiatry Unit

About the Academic Child Psychiatry Unit

  • Information about the Academic Child Psychiatry Unit (ACPU)

    Lead by Dr Alasdair Vance

    The ACPU is involved in clinical research projects exploring the risk and protective factors associated with common child and adolescent mental health conditions: ADHD, major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder and anxiety disorders.  Recently, the main focus of the ACPU has been Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and their kinship networks.  In particular, the ACPU is involved in a national program grant led by Prof Sandra Eades focused on evaluating Elder-governed Indigenous Cultural Practices as adjuvant management strategies alongside Western Health treatment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and their kinship networks.

    Historical information about the ACPU

    The links below provide information about how the ACPU operated in the past.  Please note that the ACPU is no longer accepting new referrals.  

    Vision statement
    Key elements of assessment
    Key clinics and standardised assessments 

    Information about the Aboriginal Mental Health Program (AMHP)

    Co-lead by Dr Alasdair Vance (Psychiatrist) and Dr Jo Winther (Psychologist)

    The AMHP provides a Culture-centred specialist multidisciplinary mental health assessment for children aged 0-18 years referred by the RCH Wadja team, with delays and impairments in several areas of development with associated emotional, social and behavioural problems. This team focuses on more complex presentations, unclear diagnoses and/or treatment non-responsive young people and families.  Each case will receive a developmental cultural, biological, psychological and social assessment using state-of-the-art standardized instruments (this includes: cognitive assessment, educational screen, behavioural and mental health screen, family functioning and parental psychopathology). Each case will receive a comprehensive developmental neuropsychiatry history, examination and investigations, as required, to determine a diagnosis, culturally informed formulation and management plan.  An AMHP staff member meets with the referring Wadja case manager / Paediatrician to gain their views during the assessment and formulation process and systematically feedback the assessment, formulation and management plan information. Together, the AMHP staff member and Wadja team member will synthesize an updated cultural bio-psycho-social developmental formulation, diagnosis and management recommendations.  

    The AMHP has a small team that are able to offer intervention and therapy for a limited amount of families.  The AMHP applies modern neuroscience, neuropsychiatry, psychopharmacology and psychotherapy knowledge delivered with a culturally safe approach to help comorbid developmental and/or organic difficulties that impair emotional, behavioural, psychological and social functioning.  This may include parent and child individual or group interventions and medication algorithms as required to maximise self-reflection and learning of new life skills.

    Current elements of the AMHP are:

    [1] the core Indigenous culture centered assessment formulation and management reports and short-term therapy with or without medication treatment with the Wadja paediatric clinic and the Wadja Aboriginal Family Place

    [2] the parent/carer open group program with Wadja Aboriginal family Place

    [3] the Indigenous Cultural Practices project with The University of Melbourne, and

    [4] secondary consultation to state Aboriginal services – VACCHO, VAHS and VACCA

    AMHP referral flowchart

    The AMHP referral process is outlined in the AMHP referral flowchart.  Please see the AMHP referral process flowchart.