NGO Development Strategy Training Needs Analysis

MHCC undertook a detailed Training Needs Analysis investigating the training needs of staff (paid  and voluntary) in NGOs providing services to clients with mental health problems. The results have informed MHCC's workforce development planning to ensure NGO staff providing services to clients with mental health problems are able to access relevant, affordable and local training. The needs analysis involved comprehensive consultation with all key stakeholders through formal interviews, surveys, and consultations. The needs analysis covered the workforce's level of education and experience, its training needs, and barriers to training. (including consumer training), as well as future workforce needs and skills.

The key findings were that most agencies would like to provide more staff training but reported being  constrained by factors such as time, modest or nil training budgets, and the costs and impacts of  backfilling for staff, particularly those in key service provision roles. There was general support for  the Certificate IV in Mental Health Work (non-clinical) to be adopted as a voluntary minimum level of  training for workers in the sector, to enhance the credibility of the sector and ensure minimum  competency levels. A number of respondents expressed a need for all mental health training to

  • More emphasis on ethics and professional boundaries issues;
  • An increase in the communication and interpersonal skills involved in engaging with consumers;
  • Information related to local service networks or referral procedures;
  • Opportunities for training pathways to enable new staff, as well as consumers and carers, to build skills and qualifications over time; and
  • Opportunities for higher level training for skilled staff, particularly in complex areas such as dual diagnosis, and for specialist groups such as those working with CALD communities, older people with dementia, or infants, children and young people with mental health problems.

A number of respondents also emphasised the need for mental health training to be closely linked to  the adoption of quality, professional development cultures in NGOs. This would ensure the benefits of  external training can be maximised within a work-based context.

Most respondents would like to see a minimum qualification standard for the sector. Some of the  benefits of a minimum standard included enhancing the credibility of the sector and ensuring  minimum competency levels.