The Transition Committee met on 12 May 2015 and reviewed progress against the Transition Plan for the NSW Institute of Psychiatry (NSWIOP). This was an important discussion as the critical next steps in the transition were considered.
Rhonda Loftus, NSWIOP Executive Director, reported on the planning that has progressed to inform the overall direction for education delivery reform for the agency. This will include some staged consolidation of existing programs and the planned development of a new interprofessional core program for applied mental health studies based on nationally recognised capabilities.
It was noted that key officers from NSWIOP and HETI are meeting with the Commonwealth’s Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA) in late May. Extensive preparation have been undertaken for this meeting as it will form the initial discussions on the proposal for the transfer of the NSWIOP’s higher education provider (HEP) to the Health Education and Training Institute (HETI). There will be opportunity to discuss how NSWIOP prepares for its organisational accreditation as a HEP due in June 2016 and to ensure all the requirements for compliance with the Threshold Standards to which TEQSA works can be managed now and beyond the transition.
Throughout the Transition Committee’s oversight of the NSWIOP, it has always been clear that the management of the NSWIOP’s HEP has always been one of the major features of this undertaking. The Committee was advised that the conversation with TEQSA will provide assurance that the governance proposals and other critical issues that are needed for compliance are addressed. If TEQSA advises that plans need to be modified, NSWIOP and HETI will have sufficient time and resources so as not to affect the renewal or other processes.
It is expected that confirming the plans for managing TEQSA-related issues will enable other transition stages for NSWIOP to be mapped out. These options will be discussed at the next meeting in August 2015.
The development of a mental health workforce plan was another critical issue discussed. This issue reflects one of the review recommendations but is also of sector-wide significance as it has a major bearing on the progress to build capacity in line with the Strategic Plan for Mental Health in NSW, 2014-2014. It is expected this work that will be led by the Ministry of Health and will commence in coming months.The plan will inform training and education not only for the NSWIOP but the timeliness of its development and implementation will be significant for the transition and the ongoing renewal of the NSWIOP.
Mr John Feneley noted on behalf of the Transition Committee, there was satisfaction with progress against the Transition Plan and that the NSWIOP was moving in a pleasing direction that would position itself well for its linkage with HETI as well as in its provision of mental health education and training going forward.