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Community-managed Mental Health and AOD Services


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).

Service eligibility

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).

Grant guidelines

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.

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.

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
This initiative is supported by the Victorian State Government.
Watch the live recording of the 2024 Victorian Rural Health AwardsWatch Now

Snezana is a Human Resources leader with more than 15 years of experience in management, playing a pivotal role in driving team transformations across diverse industries, including FMCG, automotive, government, and non-profit sectors.

With a curiosity for business and its associated complexities, Snezana fosters collaborative partnerships to cultivate a highly motivated workforce that effectively executes strategic plans.

Msc (Fin), FCCA, FGIA, CA

Shay brings over 20 years of financial
management experience in commercial and not-for-profit organizations. He has a
rich and varied experience in multiple finance and leadership roles in the
United Kingdom and Australia, including CFO, GM Finance & IT, Commercial
Manager Operations, Finance Manager and Accountant.

His extensive leadership experience is
augmented by an FGIA, FCCA, CA, a Masters in Finance and an undergraduate degree in
accounting and finance.

RN, GradDip(Health Promotion), PRINCE2, Mini MBA

Kate is a Registered Nurse highly experienced in health promotion and project management. Her people and program management skills enable her to be agile and adaptable while maintaining an outcomes focus on improving quality access to primary healthcare.

Kate’s extensive experience working with all levels of government, the community and stakeholders across the sector have provided her with insights into the challenges rural communities and health professionals face. Kate has led the design and delivery of many innovative and strategic health promotion and grants programs, supporting better access to health services, health information and activities across communities. Whilst at RWAV, Kate has led the transformation of the RWAV grants program, enhanced the administration of a number of programs and developed the RWAV allied health portfolio. She has also led the development of the RWAV research program of activities.

Having worked at RWAV since 2020, Kate will continue positively influencing the rural healthcare workforce and access to services.

Social Work (BA Hons), DipSW

With a background in social work and a proven record in recruitment, project management, and business development, Jo brings strategic leadership and a wealth of experience in driving positive outcomes within the health, human services, and State Government sectors.

Jo specialises in managing health professional recruitment and outreach programs, including the More Doctors for Rural Australia and 3GA programs. Her focus is on implementing innovative workforce strategies and clinical governance to bolster RWAV’s mission of enhancing healthcare accessibility in rural and regional Victoria.

Having previously excelled at RWAV, Jo spearheaded successful internal change initiatives while fostering strong relationships with external stakeholders. Her efforts consistently align with RWAV’s strategic direction, ensuring a cohesive approach to driving impactful change.

Beyond her professional expertise, Jo’s passion lies in uniting communities and championing positive transformations in rural healthcare in Victoria.

Martin is a governance professional and lawyer with experience in private practice and in-house legal roles. He has been a company secretary for public and private sector organisations across a range of industries including VicTrack, Regis Healthcare Limited and Dairy Australia Limited. He holds Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Commerce degrees from the University of Melbourne, a Graduate Diploma in Applied Corporate Governance from the Governance Institute of Australia (GIA) and is a fellow of the GIA.

With a rich background of consulting and in-house people and culture roles with the corporate, government and community sectors, Andrea is responsible for leading the implementation of RWAV’s People and Culture strategy, policies, processes, functions and team.

Andrea has significant experience in leading teams across culture, capability, diversity, equity, leadership, organisational development and learning programs as well as core human resources partnering.

With a strong focus on building and maintaining psychologically safe organisations, Andrea’s team is dedicated to ensuring that RWAV is a place where people can work well and be well at work.


Rosemary has had a varied career as an academic teaching economics, public policy and industrial relations, and as a consultant, advocate, health union official and as a director.

She brings strong governance and strategic skills to the Board, as well as knowledge and depth of experience in health policy, economics and investment.

Rosemary was a Director of Aware Super for nine years, and Chair of the Investment Committee for three years. She was also a member of the Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee, the Governance Committee and the REM and HR Committee. Rosemary is currently a member of the Investment Committee of Cbus.

She was the Secretary of the Victorian Psychologists Association Inc for 20 years and knows first-hand the difficulties in attracting and retaining health professionals in rural and regional Victoria.

Dr Louise Manning is a rural GP Obstetrics trainee practising in Central Victoria where she delivers general practice, obstetric and sexual health services. Growing up in a small town she has lived experience of the difficulties accessing healthcare in rural and regional areas, and is dedicated to advocating for equitable health outcomes regardless of geography.

Louise is also a Board Director of the Rural Doctors’ Association of Victoria.

BAppSci GradDipBus MBus GAICD FIML

John Biviano is an experienced senior executive who has held many senior roles in government (Health Dept) and also in professional associations related to healthcare. Until recently, John was the CEO of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, where he oversaw the digitisation of a range of Member offerings, including aspects of training. 

BA (Politics/Philosophy) BEc GDipBus MBA GAICD FGIA

Roger is an accomplished CEO, Non-Executive Director and Chair with experience in the health, human services, law enforcement, education, transport, and environmental industries – across private, public sector and not-for-profit organisations

.He brings strong governance experience, commercial acumen, risk management and strategy skills combined with a passion for innovation and business development having also been Chair of numerous Finance, Audit, Risk, Investment and Community Advisory Committees.


Assoc Prof Phelps has practiced as a Gastroenterologist and Acute Physician in regional Victoria for more than 20 years.

He trained in safety and quality at Dr Brent James’ Institute at Intermountain Healthcare in the US and has held management and leadership roles in Victoria and Tasmania. More recently he completed a two-year project as Director of Clinical Governance for Central Adelaide Local Health Network.

Grant currently works as an independent consultant providing advice to hospitals and organisations on clinical leadership and safety and quality

LLB BSc MMgt (Strategic Foresight) GAICD

As a lawyer and business consultant Jane has worked with company boards and senior management across a range of areas including IP commercialisation, internet-based businesses, healthcare products/services, privacy and data/IT security. Jane is currently general counsel for .id Consulting – population demographers, economists and forecasters.

Jane served as a director of BreastScreen Victoria for 10 years, is a current director of Ballarat Health Services and chairs RWAV’s Governance Committee.

BMed MMedSci FRACGP FARGP FACRRM DipPractDerm DipMedHyp DipFP DipBusAdmin GAICD

Assoc Prof Rawlin is an experienced General Practitioner and medical educator. He is currently in clinical general practice in suburban Melbourne and previously practiced in rural Victoria for 10 years.

Assoc Prof Rawlin is Chair of the General Practice Mental Health Standards Collaborative and a past Chair of the Mental Health Professionals Association and is a board member of the Mental Health Professionals Network. He is also the Medical Director of the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Victoria.
He is a member of the RACGP Victoria Council.

Albert Giorgini is the Senior Advisor to CEO at RWAV.

As an experienced finance executive, with an extensive career in public transport and in the automotive and industrial gas sectors, Albert has honed his skills in driving financial performance improvements with a commercial and business transformation focus.

Through his strategic financial skills, Albert has demonstrated an exceptional capacity to lead and develop large teams in complex and changing environments to achieve the financial and regulatory requirements of the business. His extensive experience has given him a deep understanding of the industry and its challenges, equipping him with the expertise to drive impactful change.

Albert has highly developed communication and stakeholder management skills to support his strong planning, analytical and financial performance improvement acumen, always striving to create innovative solutions that drive growth and success.


Lauren commenced in the role of Manager People and Culture in August 2018 and is responsible for leading the implementation of RWAV’s People and Culture strategy, policies, processes, functions and team.

Lauren’s team is committed to implementing activities and initiatives to support the achievement of RWAV’s strategies and strengthen RWAV’s position as an ‘Employer of Choice’.

Lauren is an experienced Manager and HR professional, with a career spanning the professional services, automotive, defence, and not-for-profit sectors.

BHlthSci(Hons) MPH PostGradDipMgt GAICD AFCHSM

Lauren Cordwell commenced in the role of Chief Executive Officer in August 2023. She took on the role of Acting CEO in April 2023 and previously served as the General Manager since February 2020.
Lauren has leadership responsibilities for strategy, communications, data, stakeholder engagement and program delivery.

Lauren’s team is committed to supporting communities in rural and regional Victoria to have timely access to affordable and safe health care.

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