Purro Birik - Executive Summary 1

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Purro Birik - (Healthy Spirit)



2. Executive Summary


The 'Purro Birri’ Koori Mental Health Policy Project commenced in October 1997. The primary aim of the project is to consult with Aboriginal communities and public mental health services, and propose strategies to improve mental health services to Aboriginal people in Victoria.


 The project brief  documents are:

  • identifies four policy documents as the context for completing the project. The four Ways Forward, The National Consultancy Report on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health (Swan and Raphael 1995);

  • Achieving Improved Aboriginal Health Outcomes: An Approach to Reform (Victorian Department of Human Services and Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, 1996);

  • Agreement on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (Victorian Minister for Health, Commonwealth Minister of State for Health and Family Services, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, and Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation 1996); and

  • Victoria's Mental Health Service Framework for Service Delivery (Victorian Mental Health Branch 1994).

This discussion paper describes the project and the service delivery environment, summarises the issues raised throughout the consultation process, and finally recommends improvements based on the information provided and the outcome of the consultations.


While the consultations recognised some local examples of services working together effectively, much still needs to be done to increase the capacity of Koori health services to respond to the social, emotional and cultural needs of communities, and of mental health services to consistently provide an accessible, culturally appropriate, effective response to Koori people experiencing mental illness.


The issues raised through the consultations with Koori health services and public mental health services have been grouped into nine categories:

  • accessibility and responsiveness of mental health services

  • quality and effectiveness of mental health services

  • culturally appropriate service provision

  • service development issues

  • workforce development issues

  • capability of services

  • accountability

  • community control issues

  • coordination and planning.

This discussion paper expands on each of these areas.

The improvement strategies proposed through the consultation process have been grouped as:

  • local partnerships

  • coordination and planning

  • training

  • service development

  • resourcing.

These groupings provide the basis of the four main categories of recommendations:

  • Workforce and Services Development issues;

  • Local partnership agreement issues;

  • Coordination and Planning issues;

  • Training issues.

Resourcing is not used as a category for recommendations because resourcing issues are generally related to implementing initiatives identified under the other four categories.


Identification of the issues outlined in section 5, and the improvement strategies in section 6 has led to the development of twelve recommendations.


Recommendations in relation to service development


Recommendation 1

That an ongoing community controlled, social, emotional and cultural wellbeing service development position be established and located at VACCHO.


Recommendation 2

That VACCHO and relevant funding bodies give priority to the development of the 'healing place' concept.


Recommendation 3

That the development of a vision for the delivery of social, emotional and cultural wellbeing services be given priority.


Recommendations in relation to the development of partnership agreements


Recommendation 4

That the development of local partnership agreements between community controlled Koori health service providers and mental health services be given priority, and that the Victorian Mental Health Branch resource VACCHO to provide support to Koori health services to establish agreements.


Recommendation 5

That the relationship between the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service Mental Health Network and mainstream mental health services be further developed to clarify roles and responsibilities and to ensure an effective, culturally appropriate response to the mental health needs of Koori people.


Recommendation 6

That the Victorian Mental Health Branch in consultation with VACCHO identify key issues to be addressed through local partnership agreements, and that Mental Health Branch examine options to encourage mental health services to participate actively in the partnership strategy.


Recommendation 7

That the Victorian Mental Health Branch in consultation with VACCHO develop a strategy or guidelines for the provision of mental health services to Aboriginal people.


Recommendation 8

That mental health services be required to establish a Koori portfolio which reports annually on how they are developing a better response to the Koori community.


Recommendation 9

That Koori health services identify a key worker/portfolio holder for liaison with mainstream mental health services. This person should provide a report to the local Koori community controlled health service management committee annually.


Recommendations in relation to improving coordination and planning


Recommendation 10

That a Planning Group be developed (coordinated by VACCHO), consisting of VACCHO and relevant State and Commonwealth funding bodies. This group could establish principles to direct social, emotional and cultural weIlbeing-related funding allocations. A sub-committee consisting of VACCHO executive and members should be formed to consult on and coordinate VACCHO's position on funding distribution issues.


Recommendations in relation to training


Recommendation 11

That the curriculum development for the Regional Training Centre, currently being developed by VACCHO consider the training needs identified in this discussion paper.


Recommendation 12

That the Victorian Mental Health Branch encourage mental health services staff (including administrative staff and doctors) to take part in VACCHO endorsed ongoing Koori cross-cultural training programs.



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