In response to The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System recommendations, Northern Health became a designated mental health service on 1 July 2022. Northern Health is now the third largest mental health service in Victoria, providing services to Adults and Older Adults who have a diagnosed mental health condition

MH Division Leadership

The Mental Health division is led by Belinda Scott (Executive Director – Mental Health) and Dr Vinay Lakra (Divisional Director, Clinical Services). Dr Lakra is the appointed Authorised Psychiatrist (under s 328 of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Act) for Northern Health.

Belinda and Vinay have been working collaboratively with the Mental Health Leadership team and a number of key stakeholders to improve mental health services delivered at Northern Health, to ensure patients receive high quality, consistent and timely mental health care and treatment.

Please click here for the MH Division Leadership structure

Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022

The new Act came into effect on 1 September 2023.Significant work has been undertaken across the organisation to ensure staff in all areas are aware of the changes of the new Act. A Reducing Restrictive Interventions Clinical Care improvement committee has been established. The provision of non-legal advocacy for consumers has been supported through ongoing consultation with Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA). A Mental Health consumer and carer advisory group has also been established to support the voice of consumers and carers being heard and valued at Northern Health. The CCAG is chaired by the managers of Lived Experience Workforce and meetings occur monthly.

Transformation projects

With our commitment to ensuring services are responsive to the needs of our consumers, there are several key improvement projects underway, including:


The newest Adult Inpatient unit, Ward 23 opened at the Northern Hospital on the 16th August 2023. Ward 23 is an acute mental health inpatient facility with 30 single bedrooms with ensuites. The environment includes state of the art therapeutic, treatment and recreational spaces.

Refurbishment of acute adults’ wards at Broadmeadows and Northern Hospital is currently in progress. The refurbishment includes lighting, flooring, doors, ensuite and toilet upgrades. Rotating ward closures are enabling this work to be undertaken. It is anticipated the works will be complete by August 2024.

Refurbishment of the Community Care Units has also been undertaken with roof restoration, painting, lighting, bedroom safety and garden works completed at Preston. Similar work is planned for Broadmeadows.

Commencement of the Addiction Psychiatry and Toxicology service

In February 2024, the Addiction Psychiatry and Toxicology (APT) service was launched. The services provide specialist substance use treatment and care to consumers within the community mental health clinics, inpatient mental health units, the acute medical and surgical inpatient units and the Emergency Department.

Review of the Adult Community Mental Health Services

The review and development of a new model of care for adult Community Mental health services commenced in 2023. The aim of the redesign is to provide services at a level/intensity and timeliness that meets the consumer’s care needs, with a focus of keeping people well in the community. There will be a shift from an episodic to ongoing model of care that provides better access, timely specialist mental health services with focus on consumers’ recovery and prevention of relapse. The new model of care is being implemented this year, commencing with the establishment of Psychiatrist led Outpatient Clinics for consumers who no longer require case management.

Older Adults Mental Health

The Specialist Older Adults Consultation Service commenced in July 2023, replacing APATT, ICT and BASICS services. The service provides support to adult consumers with frailty and those with diagnosed neurodegenerative disorders who reside in the community and Residential Aged Care Facilities.

The Older Adults Triage and Intake service commenced in July 2023 and operated Monday – Friday. The service triages referrals for the Specialist Older Adults Consultation Services and Older Adult Inpatient beds.

Investing in our future workforce

Northern Health has made a significant investment in developing training programs for all professional groups:

Allied Health – The Allied Health Early Careers program commenced in January 2024. The program is committed to the development of the workforce by ensuring students and early careers clinicians are provide with the required learning opportunities in a supported and structured program. The program will actively promote a pathway from student placements through to ongoing employment.

Psychology – The Psychology education team will commence in April 2024, and oversee the early career psychology registrar program and provisional clinical psychology placements. They are committed to providing a pathway for provisional psychologists and registrars to move to ongoing employment. The team is passionate about supporting psychologists across all levels of experience to have opportunities to undertake CPD that is meaningful and applicable to their work, to receive supervision that supports pathway to endorsement and clinical practice.

Nursing – The mental health entry to practice programs formally transferred over to Northern Health in July 2023. This comprises the MH Nursing Graduate program and Post graduate programs and the first intake of RUSONs as part of the strengthening nursing workforce project.

Medical – the Northern Psychiatry Registrar Program, which has received accreditation with the Royal Australia and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, commenced in February 2024. The training program supports registrars to complete the college requirements to become a Psychiatrist including exams and assessments, clinical work placements, research and fellowship.

Lived Experience – Following the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System recommendations, the lived experience workforce has continued to grow and strengthen its presence within clinical services. At Northern Health, we are working towards establishing leadership structures and career progression for lived experience workers, as well as identifying specific training and professional development needs. We are investing in upskilling our current lived experience staff to provide training internally to meet the demand of the expanding workforce and offer greater opportunities. Establishing partnerships and consolidating the lived experience voice better informs service delivery to improve outcomes for consumers, carers and families.