26 September 2023

APS mental health unit to promote support

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The Australian Public Services Commission’s (APSC) APS Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Unit has joined forces with the Department of Home Affairs on a flagship initiative to develop an eLearning program focused on building peer support capability within the APS.

Senior Clinical Psychologist at the Unit and lead for the project, Connie Galati said the foundational initiative would examine what kind of peer-to-peer capabilities the APS should develop in its workforce.

“Most people that experience an emotionally impactful event do not need to immediately seek the suport of psychologists or counsellors,” Ms Galati said.

“They seek out their peers, colleagues, friends and family for support and validation,” she said.

“That is why this work is so important.”

Ms Galati said the project would also look at corporate governance systems, evaluation and reporting needed to support peer network programs to run safely and effectively.

“There is little benefit in developing peer networks without sound governance, as they may be ineffective or at worst, cause harm,” she said.

She said the collaboration with Home Affairs was a natural one, as they had one of the most established peer-to-peer support programs across the service with a human-centred design approach taken to develop the eLearning program.

“This will include holding user workshops with APS staff already working in a variety of peer roles,” the Senior Clinical Psychologist said.

Ms Galati said the work would eventuate in an interactive and engaging eLearning product that was fit for the unique and diverse APS operating environment, “similar to the highly regarded Compassionate Foundations suicide prevention e-learning suite.”

Principal Psychologist and Director of the APS Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Unit, Rachael McMahon said that through the project, APSC could develop and lay down a whole-of-service foundation in relational, peer-to-peer capability that all Agencies could build from.

“If you are currently working in or have previously worked in a peer-to-peer support role in the APS (such as peer support officer, mental health first aid officer, Indigenous or disability liaison officer) you can get involved by completing the APS Peer Support Capability Project survey,” Ms McMahon said.

The peer support survey can be accessed at this PS News link.

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