Authors: NSW Institute of Psychiatry
Event: 2005 TheMHS Awards
Type of resource: TheMHS Awards
Award state: NSW
Award level: Finalist
Award category: Consumer-Run Program or Service
Abstract: The Consumer Advocacy Course provides training to any mental health consumer who is interested in consumer advocacy and representation. The course runs 3 times per annum, for 3 days, and sets a precedent in Australia by being the only regular course specifically designed to provide mental health consumers with critical knowledge about the unique features of consumer advocacy. Many consumers start a job in consumer advocacy without training or with inadequate or poor training, and are deeply confused about the lack of clarity concerning the ethics and practices that define the work they undertake. The course assists consumers to develop a clear understanding of consumer advocacy practice by sorting through ethical and theoretical difficulties that untrained consumers face, within the mental health workforce, whether that be public, private or within non-government organisations. Research is being conducted to establish the broad training needs of consumers in NSW, and to determine the effectiveness, over time, of the Consumer Advocacy Course. We also raise awareness and advocate about consumer workforce issues in NSW. Description of Facility/Organisation: The New South Wales Institute of Psychiatry is a major provider of continuing professional education in mental health in Australia. The Institute was established by an Act of Parliament in 1964 and through its Board is directly responsible to the NSW Minister for Health. The Institute provides training for health care professionals, psychiatrists-in-training, consumers and staff of non-government organisations, general practitioners and the public. Many of the students work with children, adolescents and their families, people affected by mental illness, aged persons, people of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and those with problematic substance use. In addition to fostering and developing mental health education, the Institute plays an active role in initiating and encouraging research into all aspects of mental health. The Institute has agreements of affiliation with several Australian universities. Many of the courses are accredited for postgraduate study and attract credit points towards Graduate Diploma and Masters programs. Approximately 400 expert lecturers, drawn from the academic, public, private, government and voluntary sectors are involved in teaching and conducting courses. This includes a growing number of consumer educators. In 2003-2004 the Institute provided education for a total of 3293 persons.