Anniversary of Wesley Mission, Western Sydney University partnership celebrated with new initiatives for 2019

A partnership between Wesley Mission and Western Sydney University which is providing psychology students with formal workplace training has been celebrated with the announcement of new initiatives in 2019.

Representatives of both organisations met at Western Sydney University’s Liverpool campus to underline the success and importance of the relationship which began last year with the signing of a mental health workforce training partnership.

Wesley Mission is a leading provider of mental health and other services in Australia, and is a Registered Training Organisation for certificates in mental health, disability and related fields.

Alongside their psychology degrees, the agreement is providing hundreds of students with the option of completing formal mental health workforce training from their first year of study through placements in Wesley Mission hospitals, clinics and other community services.

This practical experience and training will open up opportunities for Western Sydney University psychology graduates to be employed at Wesley Mission, as well as other major service providers. In addition, it will help ensure that psychology students entering postgraduate programs have relevant hands-on experience.

The Dean of Western Sydney University’s School of Social Sciences and Psychology Professor Kevin Dunn said the event was a time to commemorate the anniversary of the partnership between Wesley Mission and the University.

“This partnership has seen the successful introduction of the Certificate IV in mental health, which leads to enrolment in the Mental Health Workforce Training unit,” Professor Dunne said.

“This Certificate prepares mental health workers for the provision of self-directed, recovery oriented support for people affected by mental illness and psychiatric disability.

“This program is part of the cross University 21st Century Curriculum project, it will provide industry training and experience relevant to psychology study and it includes academic credit.”

Currently there are 83 students enrolled in the program across three different stages of completion. The first cohort consisted of 16 students. These students will complete the program in 2018. Four have already finished. Each successive cohort has increased in numbers

“We also have 15 Social Work students undertaking placements in a number of Wesley Mission organisations,” Professor Dunn said.

Wesley Mission CEO the Rev Keith Garner said Wesley Mission was delighted with the inroads the partnership had made.

“Our partnership is one year old, the future is bright and opportunities abound to partner and partake for the mutual benefit of Western Sydney University and Wesley Mission.”

Mr Garner stressed the importance of professionals in the aged care, mental health and community services sectors to be multi-skilled.

“An additional source of pressure on the workforce is the increasing complexity of community services work,” Mr Garner said.

“Workers need to work collaboratively with other service providers and with practitioners with a multitude of disciplinary backgrounds, and must also work with service users in more flexible and client-centric ways. This is especially important in the areas of aged care and disability services.

“The trend is undeniable and the demand for multi-discipline practitioners who can manage and address complex and multiple problems will continue to grow.”

Mr Garner said the partnership had expanded with students from Western Sydney University actively involved in key Wesley Mission projects including:

  • Research into the mental health and well-being of residents at Wesley Mission’s Independent Living Units at retirement villages at Sylvania and Carlingford. Wesley Mission has had a keen interest in improving the well-being of older Australians and addressing the issues of loneliness, isolation and resilience. Prospective research has been undertaken on suicide prevention in this context. The research will continue in 2019 with two new students to conduct field work adding to the four students who have been conducting preparatory research.
  • Examining the ongoing functioning and their sustainability of Wesley LifeForce suicide Prevention Networks.
  • A workforce analysis of community development expertise in the suicide prevention sector. The research is helping Wesley LifeForce prepare for an external evaluation of the program in 2019.
  • The social impact of work on sole parent or in families where both parents work and have no safe, reliable, affordable option to also care for their primary school-aged children. Three Masters qualifying students from Western Sydney University recently spent six months working on this social work research project with the Wesley Out of School Hours (OOSH) team.

An exciting development in 2019 is the opportunity for up to eight students to provide counselling.

“Wesley Mission will pilot a community clinic at our Bankstown ParentsNext site in 2019,” Mr Garner said.

“Up to eight students from Western Sydney University will provide counselling to ParentsNext clients for the duration of one academic year. That means parents will have access to at least two counsellors for four days a week.

“We look forward to the future and to our ongoing partnership with WSU and expanding the Certificate 4 in Mental Health to other faculties. Together we can build community capacity and a better skilled mental health sector.”

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