Training and learning
Becoming a part of a safety and quality group in the mental health sector can be a new and challenging experience. This section outlines some important facts about training and learning.
Service support for knowledge and skill development
Providing opportunities for developing consumer and carer leadership is one of the most important ways to recognise the value of lived experience perspectives. Services can demonstrate their support by funding people to engage in formal education related to the role. Some examples are completing a Certificate IV, work training with peers, and training in consumer advocacy and representation. Providing scholarships for members to attend conferences about safety and quality in the healthcare setting adds value to people’s skill sets and promotes networking and building relationships. Programs for mental health leadership are another important pathway for learning.
Under the Partnering with Consumers Standard in the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards, health services are expected to provide training opportunities for consumers and carers to assist engagement and partnerships. Part of accreditation for services is reporting on their progress in this area.
Training for non-lived experience managers
Partnerships between people with lived experience and clinical leaders are becoming commonplace but are still a new concept for some leaders and managers. Some people still question the role and purpose of lived experience leaders on committees. Everyone benefits if service managers can access training, and develop their awareness, knowledge and skills in this area. This includes training on standards, establishing partnerships, supporting the lived experience workforce, the values of the consumer movement, and co-leadership practices.
Public speaking and communication
Many education centres offer courses on public speaking. These courses help you develop confidence and skills around organising presentations and communicating key messages. Sometimes courses are offered across health services in which consumer groups are invited to participate.
Consumer advocacy and representation training
Most state peak consumer organisations provide introductory training days for you to become familiar with key policies and practices in consumer representation. If the training is in the general health area, ‘consumer representation’ covers both consumer and carer experiences, because this term is generally used in national policy documents. If the training is specific to mental health, the training is directed toward lived experience advocacy or consumer and carer perspectives.
Sharing stories safely
Some organisations offer training to help you safely use your lived experience. This includes how to use your story in advocacy work, community education and work on suicide prevention. The training focuses on key messages and setting safe boundaries for yourself and audiences.
Policies, standards and acts
Safety and quality are linked to specific policies and procedures for services that are bound by specific standards and acts in each state and territory. These documents should be reviewed by all members of a committee, including people more familiar with the service—the review can act as a refresher for them.
Common documents related to issues of safety and quality include:
- • Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights 2019
- • National Standards for Mental Health Services 2010
- • Carers Recognition Act 2010 (and various state acts)
- • National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards
- • National Mental Health Service Standards
- • mental health acts in your state or territory
- • guardianship legislation in your state
- • codes of conduct and codes of ethics for mental health professions
- • state health legislation and policies on mental health services
- • Privacy Act 1988.
The references throughout this guide provide links to many resources.
How committees and groups work
You should understand the practices and skills that are used in committees, including typical committee functions, common duties of the chair and minute taker, how to use terms of reference and role statements, how to contribute ideas and proposals, decision-making styles, and voting. Specialist groups can provide training in these areas. Many state peak bodies for health consumers provide governance training specifically for health services regarding lived experience roles.
‘Starting a consumer group’ on Our Consumer Place provides information about committees of management, including detailed information about management groups and meetings.
Online training about safety and quality
All members should have access to free online training specifically related to safety and quality improvement to ensure that they are equipped with knowledge about safety and quality standards, common tools used in reviews, basic quality improvement processes, and audits.
Training in basic IT skills and online systems also benefits new committee members. Other helpful training areas for members with lived experience include occupational health, safety and welfare; approaches to trauma-informed care; and cultural awareness and safety.
Ask your local health service if you can access online training modules in these areas.