Foundation House, Brunswick, Australia
In 2017 The Victorian Foundation of Survivors of Torture (VFST) was provided with funding by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to develop and deliver a professional capacity building project focused on children and young people from refugee backgrounds at risk of serious mental health disorders. The aim of this project is to improve the experience of Victorian mental health services for children, young people, and families from refugee backgrounds, and to ensure services and practitioners are able to meet the mental health and wellbeing needs of this group. The project intends to achieve this aim through building the
capacity of practitioners and services and building a body of expertise across the mental health and primary health sectors.
This paper will provide an insight into the staged approach utilised to develop the project, involving a thorough investigation and analysis of need, which then contributed to design and implementation. Emergent themes from the needs analysis will be highlighted, providing insight into the areas of practice development relevant to child and youth refugee mental health. The concept of a Community of Practice (CoP) will be explored, drawing on relevant literature. The design of this CoP will be explored, including details about monitoring and evaluation. Finally this paper will also comment on implementation learnings and insights to date.
Professional capacity building often focuses on the provision of discrete classroom based programs. While important these programs can be limited in their translation into practice and ability to respond to real practice challenges, limitations a CoP approach to learning seeks to address. In exploring the development and delivery of a CoP in child and youth refugee mental health, this paper will have important implications for the development of professional capacity building that can lead to better outcomes for people from refugee backgrounds.