VICSERV is the peak body for the Mental Health Community Support Sector in Victoria

Press/Media: Research


The organisation publishes a newsletter called 'Factsline' and a peer-reviewed journal called 'newparadigm'. In June 2017 the newparadigm Journal Editorial Group put out a Call for Abstracts for the Spring/Summer edition of the journal. The edition set out to explore 'leading edge sector and consumer led research as it is applied to mental health and cross sector approaches to practice'. This was exciting to me since many of the HDR students in the Social Work Department are pursuing practice-based research and are mid-way through their candidature - potentially with results to share of relevance to the field for practical application; so there is a wonderful sense of immediacy in sharing findings with the field with this opportunity.
Proudly I can share that Monash University dominates the issue! There were 4 publications accepted:

  • The Reasons for Use Package: how mentoring aids implementation of dual diagnosis practice by Kevan Myers (PhD student), Simon Kroes (MPhil student), Sarah O’Connor (Neami National) and Dr Melissa Petrakis
  • Cultural humility training in mental health service provision by Mayio Konidaris (PhD student) and Dr Melissa Petrakis
  • Recovery co-design and peer workforce development in the acute inpatient setting by Jacinta Chavulak (Honours graduate 2015), Liam Buckley (Senior Lived Experience Peer Worker, St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne) and Dr Melissa Petrakis
  • Somewhere to be safe: women’s experiences of a women only Prevention and Recovery Care service by Karen Dixon (MPhil student), Alys Boase (CEO ERMHA), Professor Ellie Fossey (Monash, Head of Department, Occupational Therapy) and Dr Melissa Petrakis

As is noted in the Editorial by Debra Parnell, the Policy and Communications Manager at VICSERV, to introduce the selection of these 4 papers:

A number of the research initiatives presented in this edition focus on building capacity in order to improve practice and outcomes: a research collaboration between Nexus, Neami National and Monash University resulted in the development of a new approach to dual diagnosis capacity through the provision of training to improve dual diagnosis practice. In this research a dual diagnosis package – the Reasons for Use Package – employed a mentoring component, which assisted in confidence and knowledge following the training.

Another strong theme in the research showcased is around innovative models: Mayio Konidaris and Dr Melissa Petrakis outline the delivery of training on ‘cultural humility’ to enable mental health workers to critically reflect on their own values, attitudes and behaviours when working with culturally diverse consumers, carers and families. The evaluation of this innovative approach to improve assessment and recovery outcomes for people from culturally diverse communities found there were benefits to be gained at both individual worker and organisation levels, as well as for practice.

Also around innovative models: After identifying that half the number of people who were admitted to in-patient units through Emergency Departments were first time admissions and that half of those people experienced seclusion, an innovative pre-admission liaison program was established at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne, using a peer worker as a central component of the intervention. Although the project drew on a small sample, it identified and confirmed that participants valued being informed, having contact with people who have a shared experience and having safe and positive links in the ward.

Across the research themes there is a focus on consumer perspectives as well as active participation in research: Researchers from Monash University, in collaboration with Ermha, analysed the feedback from women who accessed Victoria’s first women-only Prevention and Recovery Care (PARC) service, to inform further development of the program. The research found that residents had overwhelmingly high satisfaction levels with the program. This and other benefits identified from the model strengthen the calls for more women-only PARCs and other gender specific programs.

The papers can be found here

Dr Melissa Petrakis

Period24 Feb 2018

Media contributions


Media contributions


  • Research
  • Mental Illness
  • dual diagnosis
  • Culture
  • Women
  • peer work