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Clinical supervision for mental health nurses: A framework for Victoria


Mental health nurses make up approximately two-thirds of the clinical workforce in Victorian
mental health services. It is important to acknowledge that safety and wellbeing continue to be a priority.

As a result, a new framework for Clinical Supervision has been developed under the guidance of experts in clinical supervision to help you – the nurse – to deal with issues that arise for you in your work.

Click here to read more about the new framework for Clinical Supervision for Mental Health Nurses.

Read more below about the framework from Paul Healey, HACSU Assistant State Secretary:

HACSU represents the industrial and professional interests of mental health clinicians in Victoria. I am delighted to be invited to write a foreword for this clinical supervision framework for mental health nurses in Victoria.

Since the early 2000s HACSU has worked with senior mental health nurses, nurse academics and clinician members to establish clinical supervision in mental health services through the successful inclusion of clinical supervision as an industrial entitlement in the Victorian Public Mental Health Services Enterprise Agreement. Some mental health services, senior mental health nurses and clinical educators have successfully introduced a framework of clinical supervision, and HACSU members have been participating in clinical supervision.

Although the benefits of clinical supervision have been articulated, it has been poorly understood. It has not been embraced or successfully rolled out across the state, and some senior managers and mental health clinicians have not fully embraced the concept. Managers have expressed scepticism regarding the benefits of clinical supervision, including the effect on continual improvement in the skills and knowledge of clinicians and consumer/ client outcomes and also the budgetary bottom line. Mental health nurses have also expressed scepticism, including seeing it as ‘another task to be undertaken’, or fearing that clinical supervision is a performance management process.

The barriers and challenges to the statewide introduction of a clinical supervision framework have been many and varied and are honestly and openly described in Part 1 of this framework. Part 2 describes clinical supervision as an integral part of mental health
professional practice, outlining the principles for effective clinical supervision and the models of clinical supervision. Part 3 covers implementation and sustainability. Part 2 and Part 3 provide a concise description of accessible strategies and solutions to meet the barriers and challenges articulated by service managers, senior mental health nurses and clinicians. The framework outlines five principles underpinning clinical supervision that address myths, and the historical and current objections to clinical supervision. Importantly, the principles outline the responsibilities and obligations of the parties: the organisation, the supervisor and the supervisee, highlighting the importance of choice and trust in a supportive, non-punitive, non-threatening, learning environment.

The benefits of clinical supervision to services, clinicians and consumers and the great work being done are outlined in the testimonials. They provide examples of the what is done, how it is done and how clinical supervision has transformed their work with clients and peers, and how it has helped individuals to deal with the inevitable challenges of working with people experiencing mental health issues. The testimonials describe the value of reflective practice, the importance of the therapeutic relationship and use of self, outlining the specialist and unique nature of mental health nursing skills.

HACSU commends the department, Anna Love as the executive sponsor of this project and Wendy Cross for her career-long advocacy of the benefits of clinical supervision. The members of the expert reference group are leaders in aspects of mental health nursing and have been long-time advocates for the benefits of clinical supervision in their areas of work, academia, teaching, service management and direct clinical practice. All members are leaders in the area of clinical supervision and have supported mental health nurses to participate in clinical supervision. The result of this collaboration is an informative and instructive document.

This framework will guide the statewide implementation of clinical supervision across all mental health services in Victoria and be evidence of a true and real investment in the people who are the mental health workforce.

Paul Healey – Assistant Branch Secretary, HACSU.