Allied Health Assistants in Forensic Mental Health…Risk or Reward?

Mrs Lucy Whelan1,2, Mr Adam Sands1

1Monash Health, Clayton, Australia, 2Monash University, Clayton, Australia


To utilise an Allied Health Assistant (AHA) to engage eligible  adults who:

  • are on parole or on a Community Corrections Order (CCO)
  • have a primary diagnosis of a moderate severity mental health disorder
  • are at risk of re-offending
  • have a court mandated condition on their CCO to undertake Mental Health Treatment and Rehabilitation (MHTR).


The AHA workforce has widely expanded across Australia recently, with recognition of capacity to expand scope of practice. This program is an exciting initiative where this potential has been realised, and the economic efficiencies have the potential to allow greater hours of service provision. The AHA role will provide support to clients after initial assessments have been conducted by delegating Allied Health professionals.


The AHA role within the program provides support to individuals to complete their CCO and beyond by:

  • successfully introducing individuals to an exercise routine to help them understand their own physical and mental health
  • continuing this learned exercise routine outside of the program
  • linking in with external programs, individual or group, to continue their exercise journey

Key markers of evaluation are improved client mental health, decrease in re-offending, improved physical health and increased social connection. Secondary measures will include:

  • sustainability of group exercise programs,
  • client attendance
  • number of referrals made for other health issues


The program supports Victoria’s justice system for a safer state by providing services that encourage social support. In 2020, COVID-19 had a major impact on the delivery of our services and how we engaged with our clients to keep a sustained and meaningful exercise relationship.


Adam began his career as a Grade 2 Allied Health Assistant in 2007 at Monash Health at the Monash Medical Centre, in the Physiotherapy department. In 2015, an opportunity arose to take on a Grade 3 maternity leave position at Dandenong Hospital and a year after that a permanent Grade 3 position became available in the Physiotherapy department on the Orthopaedics team. Adam’s current role, in which he will present today, is a newly created AHA role within the Forensic Mental Health in Community Health team which began in 2018. Adam also currently sits on the AHA Leadership Group and AHA Competency working party at Monash Health.

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