Rural workforce development and staff support: remodelling service provision for early intervention in child and adolescent mental health

Nick Kowalenko*, Warren Bartik, Kathy Whitefield, Ann Wignall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Through professional workforce development, focused clinical placements and local consultation this innovative project aimed to develop and evaluate a best practice staff-support model by strengthening a rural-urban partnership. To sustain the impact of the program, the project incorporated multilevel interventions (developing strategic partnerships and providing support to all levels of staff from management to front-line) and included multiple components (engaging media partnerships to boost community awareness, management briefings, staff education and training, consultative support and clinical placements) to reorient services, and the broader community, towards early intervention. Methods: Structured key informant interviews were conducted with rural mental health staff to evaluate outcomes of the clinical placements and consultation sessions. Evaluations of the education and training courses were also conducted. Results: At project commencement, 43% of the rural child and adolescent mental health staff reported good skills in the identification and treatment of depression and anxiety. Following the project, 86% of staff reported good to very good skills in these areas. Rural professionals reported greater work satisfaction and an increase in their skills and confidence. They also reported that their involvement had further enhanced their work practices in child and adolescent mental health. Conclusions: This collaborative project is an example of a best practice model for staff-support. It has developed workforce capacity to provide a range of early intervention initiatives and provided the consultative skills to initiate their implementation. Above all, the approach taken by the project is feasible. It is a replicable model that supports the orientation of rural mental health services towards early intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S110-S116
Number of pages7
JournalAustralasian Psychiatry
Issue numberSuppl. 1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Child & adolescent mental health
  • Early intervention
  • Professional development
  • Rural
  • Service partnerships
  • Tele-medicine


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