Workforce Development Framework

Keeping child mental health in mind: A workforce development framework for supporting infants, children and parents

“This Framework underpins our commitment to support early action, early in life, to improve the mental prosperity of Australia.”

- Phil Robinson PSM, Emerging Minds Chair

Download here

This document outlines the National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health’s (NWC) strategy to support health, social and community professionals in identifying, assessing and supporting infants and children who are at risk of, or currently experiencing, mental health difficulties.

The Framework focuses on prevention and early intervention and is built upon needs assessments conducted with practitioners.

The Framework also responds to the widespread acknowledgment of the need for early identification of mental health risk factors for infants and children.1,2,3

Federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, has backed the document’s release.

“The National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health brings visibility to the mental health needs of our youngest Australians. It is heartening to see the Centre’s innovative, practical resources and tools coming to life.

“The aim is that the resources will help professionals feel supported and confident to work with infants, children and their families to identify, assess and support children at risk of or experiencing mental health difficulties.”

Emerging Minds Chair, Phil Robinson PSM, says the focus on the mental health of infants and young children is particularly relevant given research that shows early action can improve lifetime mental health outcomes.

“While we recognise that there are many examples of proactive and effective practices in Australia and internationally to support the mental health of young people , there is a need for even more to be done for infants and children under the age of 12.

“One in seven children up to the age of seven experience a mental health condition and only one in six of these children currently receives help .4 Overall, half of all lifetime mental illnesses emerge in childhood.

“We understand the systemic, organisational and individual challenges faced by families and practitioners, and with the Government’s support, we will continue working collaboratively to overcome these issues.

“This Framework underpins our commitment to support early action, early in life, to improve the mental prosperity of Australia.”

1. Moore, T., & McDonald, M. (2013). Acting early, changing lives: How prevention and early action saves money and improves wellbeing. Prepared for the Benevolent Society. Parkville, Victoria: The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, The Royal Children’s Hospital.

2. Price-Robertson, R., Smart, D., & Bromfield, L. (2010). Family is for life: Connections between childhood family experiences and wellbeing in early adulthood. Family Matters, 85(1), 7-17.

3. Furber, G., Segal, L., Leach, M., Turnbull, C., Proctor, N., Diamond, M., Miller, S., & McGorry, P. (2015). Preventing
mental illness: Closing the evidence-practice gap through workforce and services planning. BMC Health Services Research, 15, 283.

4. Lawrence, D., Johnson, S., Hafekost, J., Boterhoven De Haan, K., Sawyer, M., Ainley J., Zubrick, S. R. (2015). The mental health of children & adolescents: Report on the second Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. Canberra: Department of Health.