Mental Health Upskilling

group in discussion

Mental Health Upskilling for Nurses and Health Workers from the Western Pacific

Australia Awards Fellowship, AusAID funded, 2013


Australia Awards Fellowships are funded by the Australian Government to develop skills and knowledge and build links between Australia, neighbouring countries and the broader international community.  Fellowships support a range of professional development activities including supervised research, study tours, program meetings and visits which can vary in length from two weeks to a year.

The project was the result of a plea for help from mental health nurses in Papua New Guinea (PNG). PNG nurses and community health workers wanted to improve their skills and knowledge so they approached WHOCC director Professor Kim Usher at a conference in Papua New Guinea.


To improve mental health care delivery in the Pacific.


To deliver a mental health course that would enable participants to return to their organisations to deliver further training to their colleagues.  The course included:

  • lectures and workshops
  • clinical visits to public and private mental health facilities
  • a mental health first aid course
  • attendance at presentations by people living with mental illness and mental health support groups.


  • Each participant went back to their respective country with a tool kit that could support the roll out of training and development to local health professionals.
  • Delivery of a four week specialised training course in mental health to nurses and health workers from the following countries: Palau; Niue; Fiji; Solomon Islands; Kiribati; Cook Islands; Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.