The Department of Health (the department) launched the rural and regional incentive program (the program) in July 2022. This program is part of Victoria’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Workforce Strategy 2021-2024 (the Strategy) and is supported by investment from the 2021–22 Victorian State Budget.
The program aims to attract and retain mental health and wellbeing workers to rural and regional state-funded community mental health and alcohol and other drug (AOD) services. The program aims to meet this objective through two components:
- Rural and regional workforce incentive grants.
- Integration support for workers and their families.
The department funds the Rural Workforce Agency Victoria (RWAV) to administer the grants on its behalf.
The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System (the Royal Commission) outlined a vision for the future mental health and wellbeing system. Since 2019, the Victorian Government has been working in partnership with clinical, community and AOD services, consumers, families, carers, and supporters to implement all the recommendations of the interim and final reports.
The Royal Commission placed the mental health and wellbeing workforce at the heart of system reform, highlighting workforce supply challenges across Victoria which are exacerbated in rural and regional areas.
To address supply challenges in rural and regional Victoria the Royal Commission recommended the establishment of an incentive scheme to attract and retain Victoria’s rural and regional mental health and wellbeing workforce (recommendation 40).
Grant applications are assessed competitively. To be eligible for this program, the service applying for a grant must:
- Provide one of the following Victorian Department of Health-funded services:
- Mental health community support services (MHCSS).
- Alcohol and other drug (AOD) services.
- Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) or Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCOs) that provide mental health and wellbeing or AOD services.
- AOD services based in a public health service or a designated Area Mental Health and Wellbeing Service.
- Be delivering services in a MMM2 – MMM6 area in the Modified Monash Model (MMM).
- Please access the following link to check MMM classification here.
- Assess workforce supply and demand recognising that they may be awarded only one grant per financial year (per region).
For more information, review the Guidelines here.
Please ensure you read the program Guidelines in full before completing the application form below.
You can also find more information through a series of questions and answers below which might be helpful.
Yes, if the individual covers the cost themselves, they can submit the receipt(s) for reimbursement from RWAV.
Yes, if the service pays any of the incentive costs, then they can submit the receipt(s) for reimbursement from RWAV.
Yes, the incentives can be used to provide support to meet the needs of people through providing tailored incentives like external cultural support, or to meet accessibility requirements.
No, Geelong is MMM1, but other areas in the Barwon region are eligible.
No, this is a different kind of incentive not covered by this program.
Incentives grants can be used to pay for training for a local person to develop additional skills required for the role.
The department will work as quickly as possible to get the application assessed.
Yes, upskilling a current staff member to take a hard-to-recruit role is appropriate.
It’s a flexible process, services can apply before or after commencing recruitment, and the department will assess the application as quickly as possible.
A grant application to support a student placement for a final year student where they will be moving into an unfilled vacancy upon completion will be considered.
Accommodation in some regional areas is scarce and unfortunately this program cannot influence this. The funding from the grants can be used to pay for temporary accommodation while more permanent accommodation is secured.
Yes, we want to make moving to rural and regional areas more attractive.
Area mental health services have a separate incentives link here This program just applies to community managed mental health services and state-funded AOD services.
It can apply to relocation within rural and regional Victoria where the MMM number increases. https://www.health.gov.au/resources/apps-and-tools/health-workforce-locator/health-workforce-locator
If you are recruiting for two of the same roles subject to the same recruitment problems, then yes. Generally, however, one application per role.
Option 1 – apply before recruitment
- Service prepares to recruit
- Service is aware of the likelihood of difficulties
- Services applies for grant in advance to allow advertisement to include ‘incentives may apply’
- Services negotiates the incentive with preferred recruit.
Option 2 – apply after recruitment
- Service has finalised recruitment process
- Preferred recruit needs additional support such as:
- Relocation costs
- Clinical or professional supervision
- Professional development
- Services applies for grant including details of what grant will pay for