Strategies to enhance Allied Health Professionals in Mental Health Services to practice to full scope: A paradigm shift from case management

Dr Fiona Hall1, Ms Catherine Stephens1

1Allied Heatlh Professions Office of Queensland, Department Of Health, Cairns, Australia

Background: Exploring service models which optimise the expertise and scope of practice of mental health workforces and increase therapeutic, psychosocial and rehabilitative outcomes for individuals has been prioritised as a part of the Connecting care to recovery 2016– 2021 and Mental Health Alcohol and Other Drugs Workforce development framework. Despite these initiatives, the case management model has prevailed as the predominate paradigm for allied health in Mental Health Alcohol and Drug service delivery in Queensland Health.

Method: Focus groups were conducted with senior allied health managers and clinician to identify changes that would increase capacity for allied health to work to their professions scope. The outcome was the development and implementation of the Statwide Allied Health Mental Health Advisory Group Strategies (2017-2019) that emphasise:

  • A paradigm shift from case coordination activities to clinical interventions based on community needs
  • Enhanced clinical governance of allied health
  • Developing and implementing mental health models of care that optimise scope of practice of all allied health
  • Developing of standard intervention key performance indicators to evaluate progress.

Results: Evaluation of the strategies included collection of data relating to allied health professional expanded scope of practice activities. Nineteen Allied Health led, mental health expanded scope models of care have been implemented across eleven Hospital and Health Services. Partnership models with community managed organisations and AH led models for personality disorders, suicide and affective disorders are the most established models.

Discussion: The Strategy implementation has bought expectations about the transformation of services for people with mental health problems, however the strategies are only part of the way through the implementation process and the reform process is measured.  The pledge for culture change has been responsive but strong leadership in Queensland Health along with durable collaboration with community managed organisations is required for the reforms to be fully realised.


Upon graduating Fiona worked as a counsellor and psychologist in community, educational and hospital settings in rural, remote and metropolitan locations in Australia.  Following this she worked as a clinical psychologist and researcher providing mental health services for more than a decade and completing post-graduate studies in clinical hypnotherapy, acute care in the community and a Doctorate in Psychology. The last ten years in the workforce have been   committed to progressing the National allied health workforce and mental health reform agendas through the management of Statewide projects and programs. Fiona lives with her family in Cairns, North Queensland and works for the Allied Health Professions Office of Queensland, where she manages statewide strategic workforce planning and policy development activities.

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2007, Hobart (7th NAHC)

2009, Canberra (8th NAHC)

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2013, Brisbane (10th NAHC)

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2019, Brisbane (13th NAHC)

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