In February 2019, the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System was formally established.
The final report of the Commission, which was tabled in a special sitting of the Victorian Parliament on 2 March 2021, recommends a mental health and wellbeing system that provides holistic treatment, care and support for all Victorians. These reforms will significantly change the way mental health services are delivered in Northern and Western metropolitan Melbourne.
Following from these recommendations, Northern Health is a designated mental health service from 1 July 2022.
On 4 July, we welcomed Northern Area Mental Health Services and North West Area Mental Health Services, We also welcomed the staff of Merv Irvine Nursing Home and McLellan House. Collectively, this make us the third largest mental health service in Victoria.
On 7 November 2022, the Bundoora Aged Persons Mental Health Unit (APMHU) and Assessment and Treatment Services (APATT) transferred to Northern Health
Ms Belinda Scott, Executive Director Mental Health
As Executive Director Mental Health, Belinda Scott has been working hard to ensure the transition to Northern Health is as minimally disruptive as possible. There has been considerable planning to ensure a seamless integration of our services and our workforce. Special attention has been given to People and Culture processes, ICT services and governance.
Belinda has been working collaboratively with a number of key stakeholders to improve mental health services delivered at Northern Health, ensuring patients receive high quality, consistent mental health care and treatment.
Belinda brings key industry experience covering business and strategic planning and implementation, quality and risk management, engagement and partnership development, financial management, capability building, metropolitan and rural health care.
Belinda’s previous experience includes Chief Executive Officer at Djerriwarrh Health Service and at Northern Health as the General Manager, Broadmeadows Hospital.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- Why is NorthWestern Mental Health (NWMH), separating its services across Northern Health, Western Health and Orygen?
The final report from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System has recommended reforms of Mental Health Services in Victoria. The Royal Commission recommended the Victorian Government establish a new responsive and integrated mental health and wellbeing system, which will support and promote mental health, as well as, prevent mental illness.
The Victorian Government has committed to supporting this recommendation. As a result, Mental Health Services currently provided by the RMH will be split based on the location of services, as well as specialties.
- Which services will move across first?
In accordance with the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System the following is proposed:
- From 1 July 2022 the following transferred to Northern Health:
- Northern Area Mental Health Service (NAMHS),
- North West Area Mental Health Service (NWAMHS),
- Merv Irvine Nursing Home and
- McLellan House Hostel
This is to support the development of an integrated mental health and wellbeing system for Victoria. The Royal Melbourne Hospital will work closely with NAMHS, NWAMHS, Merv Irvine Nursing Home and McLellan House Hostel to support the transfer of care of people, services and staff between designated health services.
The Aged Persons Mental Health Program (APMHP), parts of which are located in NAMHS, NWAMHS, IWAMHS, and MWAMHS will remain under NWMH management until the end of October 2022 to allow for additional redesign and stakeholder consultation to readily enable the streaming of Area Adult and Older Adult Mental Health and Wellbeing Services as per recommendation 3(2)(b) of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System in the new Northern, Western and RMH configuration. The first component of APMHP, will be transitioning to Northern Health from 7 November 2022. All other components will transition next year from 1 July 2023.
- By 1 July 2023 the following will transfer to Western Health:
- Mid-West Area Mental Health Services (MWAMHS)
- By 1 July 2023 the following will separate from RMH:
- Orygen Specialist Program
Transitioning to Northern Health:
Northern Health has become a designated Mental Health Service. Governor-in-Council has endorsed the revised Mental Health Regulations and transfer orders to enact the first phase of disaggregation. In summary the approved regulations and Orders
- Established Northern Health as a designated mental health service from 1 July 2022.
- Established Western Health as a designated mental health service from 1 July 2023.
- Facilitated the transfer of mental health orders to Northern and Western Health where treatment is to be provided by an authorised psychiatrist appointed by these services.
- Facilitated the transfer of identified assets, rights, liabilities and staff from Melbourne Health to Northern Health on 1 July 2022.
For further information please refer to the following Victorian Government Gazettes; Gazette 305 Gazette 306 Gazette 308
- What are the key benefits to joining Northern Health?
Northern Health are extremely passionate and committed to their service, their people and their stakeholders. They provide a place based care, which means you are able to tailor your care to community services. They pride themselves on being innovative and love to have staff forums that promote staff engagement, input and welcomes ideas. They have taken up numerous staff ideas and have delivered an exceptional COVID program, which demonstrated what a power house they are.
Northern Health is a young service and therefore, you will be part of creating history.
- What are Northern Health’s Values?
Safe: We provide safe, trusted care for our patients. We are inclusive and culturally safe, celebrating the diversity of our staff and community.
Kind: We treat everyone with kindness, respect and empathy. We provide patient-centred and compassionate care.
Together: We work together with our staff, patients, consumers and health system partners.
- Does North Health have a “Workplace” (social media platform for work)?
Northern Health do not use workplace or another social media platform for work.
- Will we receive a hard and electronic copy on the welcome pack?
You will receive a welcome pack (bag) and the information will also be available on Northern Health’s Mental Health intranet page.
- Will my location/s of work change?
You will remain at your current location/s of work from 7 November 2022. If there is a requirement to relocate services and staff in the future, then Northern Health will consult with staff and unions and follow the requirements of the EBA accordingly.
- Will my salary change?
Your salary will remain the same after transition. Any allowances, penalties and ‘above Award’ provisions will remain in place.
- Will I be required to update my vaccination status immediately upon transition to NH?
Melbourne Health has shared the staff health information held with Northern Health including vaccination history. There is a difference in the information collected by The Royal Melbourne Hospital and Northern Health, which is due to changes in HR requirements over time. If staff need to provide additional information, then they will be contacted by Northern Health and given sufficient time to arrange serology and obtain any updated vaccinations.
- What will happen to my role?
This is a transfer in business and as such there will be no changes to your current position and existing positions descriptions will be maintained throughout the transition period. This is an overall change in employer, governance and reporting.
- Will I need new training as part of the transition?
As there will be no changes to your role and responsibilities, you will not require retraining. You will receive a Welcome Pack from Northern Health, which will help support you through the transition. Additionally, managers and leaders will receive an orientation to Northern Health.
- Will my employee number change?
If your employee number was given to you before 1 July 2019, then this will transfer with you to Northern Health. If you were given an employee number after this date, then you will be issued with a new employee number.
- Will our personal file and history (i.e., warnings etc.) transfer to Northern Health?
Your personal file and history will transfer to Northern Health.
- How will I know how Northern Health operate?
All staff members will receive a welcome pack with information regarding Northern Health. An overall orientation does not need to be conducted as staff already work onsite, have access to parking and have access to Northern Health IT services.
Policies and procedures are currently being updated and modified and a summary of these amendments will be provided within the welcome pack.
All managers and leaders will receive an in-depth on-boarding program, which will cover the overall structure of the division, recruitment, engineering requests, wellbeing supports, IT systems and reporting. This will be a combination of online and face to face.
- Will Discipline Seniors be included in the in-depth on-boarding for managers?
Discipline Seniors will also attend the in-depth on-boarding for managers and leaders for Northern Health.
- If I am feeling apprehensive regarding the change, where can I go for help?
We recognise that this process may be difficult for you and as a result, staff will have access to Wellbeing services and will be supported through the Northern Health Thrive Program, which will have links on how to access wellbeing supports before, during and after the transition.
We also encourage staff to use our Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which is provided by Converge. This is a free, short-term, confidential counselling service where you are able to speak with a psychologist regarding personal or work-related matters. Our EAP is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can be contacted on 1300 OUR EAP (1300 687 327). Additionally, you are able to also contact the Royal Melbourne Hospital Peer Support Program via switchboard on 934 27000.
- I don’t want to work at another Health Service. Can I choose to stay with the RMH?
If you work all or any hours in the services transitioning to Northern Health, then you will transfer to Northern Health. This is a transfer of business and therefore, your position is transferring to Northern Health.
There might be some exceptions and these will be considered on an individual basis. Please contact your People and Culture representative to discuss.
- Have our consumers and carers been consulted about this change?
We have prepared a letter to our consumers and carers, as well as a script for staff to refer to if asked questions about the change from consumers and carers.
- In terms of recruitment, it is a very competitive environment at the moment. What supports will be in place to support our recruitment needs at Northern Health?
RMH is currently really pursuing staff to come into the network to fill recruitment gaps (e.g. overseas recruitment of all disciplines). There is a large amount of funding being given to Mental Health services and there are concerns about how to get staff on-board to fill these gaps.
Once NAMHS, NWAMHS, McLellan House and Merv Irvine transition to Northern Health, then Northern Health will become the third largest Mental Health Service in Victoria. Therefore, there will be plenty of opportunities to expand this service.
- Will I have to do all my mandatory training again when I transition to Northern Health?
Northern Health will recognise your current training, therefore RMH will transfer all your training data across to Northern Health’s Learning Management System (LMS). Any outstanding training will trigger a reminder from the Northern Health LMS and will need to be completed ASAP. All training programs are being reviewed for similarity and any changes to mandatory training will be communicated with those affected.
Please do not commence any mandatory training on the RMH LMS from 28 October 2022.
- As a non-AHPRA registered clinician, what will be my credentialing requirements when I transition to Northern Health?
All non-AHRPA registered clinicians (i.e. social workers, speech pathologists) will be required to complete an annual statutory declaration stating their eligibility for membership with their peak body, and that they have not engaged in any professional misconduct. This process is managed on the Cgov credentialing module and all affected staff will receive an email notification with a link and instructions for how to complete the statutory declaration, approximately one month after transitioning to Northern Health.
- Will there be a change to boundaries to make it more flexible and accessible for patients to access our services?
The Royal Commission into Mental Health has made the recommendation to give consumers free choice of where they want to be treated, which has been accepted (removing boundaries). This has not been furthered yet, but discussions will take place.
Entitlements and Conditions of Employment:
- What happens to my conditions of employment?
This is a transfer of business and therefore, your conditions of employment will remain the same, for example, if you are currently employed under the Victorian Public Mental Health Services Enterprise Agreement 2020-2024, then you will continue to be employed under this Agreement.
- What happens to my Annual and Personal Leave?
Your accrued annual and personal leave will be recognised by Northern Health and therefore, will transfer with you.
- What happens to my Long Service Leave?
RMH will be conducting a long service leave audit to ensure that your long service leave entitlements are correct before transferring them to Northern Health.
- Will I receive a certificate of service?
You will receive a certificate of service upon your transition to Northern Health.
- Will there be any modification or changes to my employment contracts or will they directly transfer to Northern Health?
Your employment contract will be novated to Northern Health and therefore, no changes or modifications will occur. You will receive a letter stating this transition.
- What happens to my accrued ADOs?
Your ADOs will also transfer to Northern Health. As per RMH policy, you should only have 2 accrued ADOs. If you have more than 2, then we encourage you to talk to your line manager regarding taking excess leave.
- Will my pay be disrupted when my employment transitions to Northern Health?
The Payroll system data will be transferred to Northern Health by the vendor prior to 7 November 2022 inclusive of all entitlements and current disbursements.
Employees on N Pay Cycle
- RMH to process pay period N10 25/10/2022 to 06/11/2022
- Northern Health will start paying from N11 07/11/2022 to 20/11/2022
- What will happen to my visa when I transition to Northern Health?
If you are currently on a visa, then this will transfer with you to Northern Health.
Staff holding permanent residency, or a substantive work visa (without sponsor), or bridging visa will transition to Northern Health without further requirements. Staff holding a substantive visa under sponsorship will require a change of sponsor and Northern Health will be in contact those staff to facilitate the process. For any specific questions please contact email@example.com.
- If I currently have a flexible working arrangement, will this be recognised by Northern Health?
Your flexible working arrangement will be recognised by Northern Health and will transfer with you.
- What happens for staff that have secondments in place? Will staff loose opportunities for secondments within the NWMH network?
If you are currently seconded to an area that is transitioning to Northern Health, then you will continue with your secondment, but remain a RMH employee. Once your secondment is completed, you will then revert to your substantive position.
Secondments in the future are uncertain, however, this is currently be discussed.
- Can I salary package with Northern Health?
You are able to salary package with Northern Health. Northern Health does salary packaging in-house and uses Orix for car leases. Representatives of Northern Health Payroll and Orix are compiling information for staff to facilitate a seamless transfer of packages and transfer or maintenance of novated vehicle leasing where this applies.
You will receive more information regarding salary packaging in your welcome pack from Northern Health.
- How will salary packaging with Northern Heath occur?
As part of your welcome pack, you will receive information regarding Northern Health’s salary packaging and you will be invited to sign up. Therefore, you will need to complete the sign up document in order to salary package.
- I work part time at a North Area Mental Health Service and/or North West Area Mental Health Service and part time at an Inner West Area Mental Health Service, what happens to me?
You may continue to work across two or more employers. You will have an employment contract for each individual employer. You will need to complete a tax form for each employer.
- How will my entitlements be split between my two employers?
Your accrued leave will be split between your two employers.
For example: You have 400 hours of personal leave and work 0.6EFT at Inner West and 0.4EFT at NWAMHS. Your personal leave will be divided based on your EFT and therefore, 240 hours of your personal leave will go to Inner West (RMH) and 160 hours will go to NWAMHS (Northern Health).
- What will happen to my Long Service Leave?
Your accrued long service leave will remain with RMH and you will start to accrue long service leave with Northern Health as well. There are individual circumstances that may need to be looked at, so please reach out to Sara Tuncel, firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have any questions.
- Will I still have an ADO?
You will no longer have an ADO as you do not work full time hours with one employer.
- Can I Salary Package with both RMH and Northern Health?
You will be able to salary package with both RMH and Northern Health.
- How will I accrue leave between my two employers?
You will accrue leave on a pro rate basis.
- I work in RMH’s Casual Nurse Bank and across sites, what will happen to me?
If you have worked shifts at the following areas/sites within the last 6 months, your casual nurse bank information and payroll details will be transferred to the Northern Health Bank without the requirement to formally apply:
- Aged Inpatient Unit (BECC)
- APATT (Northern)
You will also continue to remain active with the RMH casual nurse bank. Therefore, you will be across two nurse banks: RMH and Northern Health.
Please note that there will be a deadline of 30 September 2022 to complete a shift.
- What if I don’t want to be on Northern Health’s Nurse Bank?
If you do not wish for your details to transfer to Northern Health’s Nurse Bank and therefore, do not wish to work in the areas mentioned above, then please send an email to Sara Tuncel (Sara.Tuncel@mh.org.au) advising her accordingly.
- How does Northern Health’s Nurse Bank operate?
You are able to find all information regarding Northern Health’s Nurse Bank information on RMH’s intranet page. You can also email Sara Tuncel (Sara.Tuncel@mh.org.au) for this information.
Governance Structure and Support
- Will there be a loss of governance/meeting structure at Northern Health?
Northern Health have their own structure and governance, however, the transition will occur gradually and you will remain linked to NWMH support until Northern Health are able to take over successfully.
- Is Northern Health increasing their People & Culture team to assist with the transition?
There were approximately 880 staff who transitioned to Northern Health on 4 July 2022 and approximately 50 staff transitioning on 7 November 2022. Belinda Scott, Executive Director Mental Health, and her team are workforce planning to ensure that they have the staff in place to support those who are transitioning.
- Is Remuneration and Classification being considered as part of the transition?
There have been discussions occurring around competition regarding remuneration and classifications for OT’s and SW’s. Northern Health and RMH do not want to be remunerating their staff less than other services and wish to provide plenty of opportunities for staff.
- What support services will we still have access to after our transition to Northern Health?
You will still have access to the broader services, which will continue for the next 1-2 years to support the transition process. These services include, but not limited to: MHTDU, MH-FIT, Bed Management, Junior doctors recruitment, Nursing recruitment, Triage etc.
- Will we still have access to NWMH bed stock after 1 November 2022?
It is anticipated that you will still have access to the existing NWMH bed stock across the network. There are also new beds coming online in the near future with reforms and uplift of existing bed stocks to bring them up to contemporary standard. Current resource transparency will stay in place.
- Will the current Graduate and Postgraduate programs also transition to their appropriate services or remain in the NWMH cohort?
Staff employed into the Graduate and Postgraduate program will transition based on their rotation.
- Will we still be able to use Bank staff that are currently covering significant shifts?
You will still have access to bank staff that wish to be added to Northern Health’s Nurse Bank.
Nurse Bank staff that have worked at ged Inpatient Unit (BECC) and APATT (Northern) in the last 6 months prior to the transition, will be added to Northern Health’s Causal Nurse Bank without the requirement to reapply.
- Will we still be able to access the Mental Health Library?
The Mental Health Library is a state wide service. The only membership condition is that mental health staff need to be working in a DHHS funded position. Consequently, the right to membership will still be available to NWMH staff unless they move to a privately funded clinic or service.
Staff who will be outside the MH computer network after the transition to Northern Health will need to join using the online form to get continued access to electronic resources.
Membership is free and you only need your name, preferred email address (this can be a personal email address), personal mobile, & place of work name & location to sign up. Membership must be renewed every 12 months.
Online membership form can be found here: https://library.mh.org.au/index.php/menu-membership/menu-join
Once registered, staff will receive an email with their membership number. This notification has a link to the set/reset password page. The membership number/password is then used to access all electronic resources.
All library members have access to library services such as help with literature searching, using databases, & requesting journal articles not held in our library system. This won’t change for staff who are transitioning to Northern Health.
If you have any questions, please call the team on 9342 8617 during business hours.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
- Will I be getting a new email address?
A new email alias @nh.org.au will be created and made the primary mail. This will have the effect that all new emails will appear to be from the @nh.org.au address. Delivery of @mh.org.au email will still occur. The emails will get delivered to the same NH mail box regardless of email address.
There will only be one mailbox and calendar – the original one that will be transferred and will have the @nh.org.au added to it.
Existing MH email address and accounts will be maintained for approximately 6 months (i.e. inboxes, sent folders, calendars). All content of the mailbox will be moved to a NH Mail Server. The email alias @mh.org.au will be removed after the six months. This will mean that emails post the removal addressed to @mh.org.au will not be delivered.
There will be no change to computer login and after 6 months all material in s:/ folders should be migrated and all material in h:/ drives will remain as is.
- Will I be provided with a new computer login?
You will be provided with a new computer login and password upon your transition to Northern Health.
- What happens to all my documents on my computer?
Your data and documents will transfer to Northern Heath, however, anything left on the desktop will not be transferred. Please store all documents and information on your h:/ drive instead of your desktop.
There is currently a plan for staff to have complete access to existing MHP shared drives. The shared drives will come across, however, there is no indication on timeframes.
- Will phone numbers to services and individuals change?
Numbers will remain in place, however, there might be a change to prefixes.
Post Implementation Review & feedback
Northern Health will undertake a detailed review of the transition at periodic intervals following 1 July 2022. This will involve exploring lessons learnt, successful migration of relevant data and processes, and most importantly the well-being and engagement of the workforce.
Please direct any feedback on the process or transition to the following email address: Feedback.email@example.com
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