Can psychology student placements improve access to mental health services for Kimberley peoples?

Can psychology student placements improve access to mental health services for Kimberley peoples? Conference Paper

15th National Rural Health Conference: Better together!

  • Author(s): Swain, Lindy, Correia, Helen, O'Donovan, Amanda, Yogayashwanthi, Yogaraj
  • Secondary Author(s): Coleman, Leanne
  • Published: 2019

Abstract: The numbers of suicide and self-inflicted injuries in the Kimberley are amongst the highest in Australia and are over 7 times higher than the state average. They are the leading cause of death for Kimberley youth between 16 and 24 years of age. Within the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia, of the 15% of adults who have a diagnosed mental health problem only 8% have accessed mental health services. Despite the high need for psychology services, there are very few clinical psychologists in the Kimberley and referred patients are on long waitlists. The Kimberley Rural Health Alliance (KRHA), a newly established University Department of Rural Health, is collaborating with Murdoch University and a number of local organisations to support clinical psychology students to expand the delivery of mental health services in the Kimberley. As there are very few accredited psychologist supervisors working in the Kimberley region it is very difficult to organise clinical placements for psychology students. The KRHA cultural security officer provides students with cultural training, mentoring and support. KRHA is piloting a program in which clinical psychology students are placed within organisations that do not currently have psychology services, such as an Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol rehabilitation centre and an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service. Psychology students are integrated within the primary health care setting, often locally supervised by the senior Aboriginal health workers, whilst also receiving remote supervision by videoconference from a clinical psychologist at a city based university. This is a unique and innovative, non-traditional way to supervise clinical psychology students, which allows psychology students to be placed in culturally safe settings where there is client need. There is an interprofessional emphasis in these placements, in which students work together with local health workers to develop and implement psychological services appropriate to the needs of the community as well as enhancing their own learning and practices in culturally responsive ways. This may include undertaking assessments, as referred by GPs and health workers, and implementing evidence informed interventions with individuals, families or in groups, that are adapted as appropriate to the local context, with input from local services. This clinical psychology placement program is currently being evaluated for student and client outcomes and community impact. This presentation will share evaluation data and outline the challenges and some potential solutions to increasing psychology services in remote Australia and enhancing cultural responsivity in psychology training programs.

Cite this document

Suggested Citation
Swain, Lindy, Correia, Helen, O'Donovan, Amanda, Yogayashwanthi, Yogaraj, 2019, Can psychology student placements improve access to mental health services for Kimberley peoples?, Conference Paper, viewed 30 November 2021,

Endnote Mendeley Zotero Export Google Scholar

Share this page

Search again