Department of Health

Regional mental health workforce incentives

The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System recommended a new incentive scheme to address mental health and wellbeing workforce supply needs in rural and regional Victoria.

In response, the Victorian Government has invested in the Regional Mental Health Workforce Incentives program which launched in mid-2022.

The Regional Mental Health Workforce Incentives program aims to:

  • Support the attraction, recruitment, and retention of new workers to priority positions in state funded mental health and alcohol and other drug services in rural and regional Victoria
  • Support individuals and their dependents to move, settle and integrate into rural and regional Victorian communities.

See how the incentives have made a difference.

  • Duration: Length 3.04
  • Transcript

    Karen Fowler, Psychologist, Mildura Base Public Hospital: I was working in Sydney last year as a private practitioner, a psychologist in the city. I really enjoyed the work. It was one-on-one, but I kind of yearned for that role that was more flexible and more diverse. We just sort of went, oh, we're done of the city, we're done with the rat race. Let's start a new chapter.

    Julie Pettet, Navigator, Mildura Base Public Hospital: Moving out to regional Victoria enables people to make a real difference, a real tangible difference. So if feeling good about the work you do and the difference you make in community is important to you, then actually you can do that in regional Victoria. If you want a quality of life and you want to be able to engage in a community and participate in many different ways, then living in regional Victoria is the place to go.

    Karen: My role currently is with the continuing care team. So I'm a psychologist. I work with people that are acutely unwell with struggling with mental health, that need wraparound services in their community. There's a multidisciplinary team. I go in, we're a unit, we work together. We have psychiatrists, nurses, social workers, psychologists, all working together to help the individual move forward. So I really like the team approach.

    Karen and her family relocated to regional Victoria with the support of the Regional Mental Health Workforce Incentives Program

    Julie: The scheme is really good because it actually enables it to be tailored to each person. It can contribute to school fees being paid, childcare costs. It's really about what does a person need in order for them to relocate and actually move here for the long term and to make it work.

    Karen: It was great having Julie as a support navigator because we were really unaware of what the funding entitled us to, what we were able to apply for, what specific items were covered and weren't. So Julie really navigated us through the process.

    Julie: We are people first and we are employees second. The navigator role is being established here at the hospital and throughout regional Victoria to really support people to relocate out into beautiful areas of Victoria and to assist them through that process.

    [Map of Victoria on screen] The Regional Mental Health Incentives Program is delivered in eight regions across Victoria: Mildura, Grampians, Southwest, Bendigo, Barwon, Goulburn Valley, Albury Wodonga and Latrobe.

    Julie: And for me that means really recognising that there's financial relocation that is to be considered. There's also physical relocation, how people move. And then there's the emotional side of relocation, which sometimes can be forgotten. And it is something that I like to focus on.

    Karen: My family really enjoyed the change and moving to Mildura, it's a different pace of life. They're outdoors a lot more. We've never had a backyard before, so this is the first time that the children have had their own space to go outside, be independent, grow some vegetables, play, run around. The quality of life is quite different and we are really enjoying it.

    Search Regional Mental Health Incentives Program to learn more

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About the incentives

The Regional Mental Health Workforce Incentives program includes the following elements:

Workforce relocation and incentive grants

Grants are being provided to encourage and support mental health and alcohol and other drugs (AOD) workers to relocate, settle and remain in rural and regional areas. Grants will be available to qualified workers recruited to priority, hard-to-fill positions within state funded mental health and AOD services.

Integration support for workers and their families

Local community navigators have been employed across Victoria to ensure candidates are adequately supported prior to employment, during relocation, and in their settlement and integration into local communities. Pre-employment and integration support will be provided to connect individuals and their families to essential services and to create the social and professional connections needed to settle into their new community.

Service eligibility

Victorian Department of Health funded mental health and AOD services based in MMM2 – MMM6, under the Modified Monash Model are eligible to apply for grants.

Grant scope

Grants can be used flexibly by both services to support attraction costs and by workers relocating and settling in rural and regional areas. Services will negotiate with recruits regarding expenses they will be able to claim. Grants can be used to support costs such as accommodation, professional development, relocation, childcare, school fees and vehicle costs for new workers.

Grant administration

Grants are administered by Rural Agency Workforce Victoria (RWAV). Further information and grant application forms are available from the RWAV websiteExternal Link .

Grant guidelines

To access the grant guidelines, see Regional Mental Health Workforce IncentivesExternal Link on the RWAV website.

Reviewed 02 April 2024


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