Postgraduate Overseas Specialists Training (POST) Program in 2014

December 11, 2014

Asia Australia Mental Health (AAMH) in collaboration with St Vincent’s Hospital (Melbourne), Mental Health Department and The University of Melbourne offers clinical training fellowships in mental health for overseas psychiatrists, nurses and allied health professionals. Since inception in 2001 over 330 health professionals from the Asia-Pacific region have taken part in this successful training program.

Aimed at capacity building, the POST Program provides training in a diverse range of mental health subspecialties including community mental health, addiction medicine, recovery and rehabilitation, consultation liaison psychiatry, aged psychiatry and child and adolescent mental health. Each attachment is tailored to meet the learning objectives of the Fellows and supports and supervision are provided at all times. Based in Melbourne, Australia, the POST program offers a unique opportunity for mental health professionals to experience active development of community mental health care in Victoria.

This year, 36 overseas Fellows visited the POST Program resulting in over 1200 days of clinical attachment assisted by hundreds of Victorian mental health professionals working in the public, private and NGO sectors. Countries represented included Myanmar, the Philippines, Fiji, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Laos PDR, Malaysia and Japan. During their placements each Fellow had the opportunity to observe Australian mental health workers as they embarked on their daily, clinical duties including case review and handover meetings, crisis intervention, intensive case management, rehabilitation and community programs.

Between July and September the POST Program hosted 10 mental health leaders who each completed 10 weeks mental health attachments funded by the Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia Awards Fellowships (AAF), ( this prestigious grant also supported the Fellows to attend the 2014 Global AIDS Conference held in Melbourne. As mental health leaders in Myanmar, the Philippines and Laos PDR this was a special opportunity for the Fellows to take part in an international global health conference and hear presentations about emerging scientific developments and the impacts of HIV and AIDS. As a priority public health issue in their home countries, the Fellows were interested to learn more about the links between HIV and mental health and compare strategies to provide effective mental health care to populations living with the virus.

Earlier in 2014 the St Vincent’s Hospital Pacific Health Fund collaborated with the POST Program to support the attachments of two Fijian mental health professionals. Dr Epi Tamanitoakula and Ms. Raijieli Watituraga completed a 4 week attachment in forensic mental health. During their placements the Fellows observed staff at The Thomas Embling Forensic Hospital in Fairfield and spent time with many key individuals observing assessments and discussing policy and case management. The Fellows were able to return to Fiji with new ideas and strategies to assist in the development of forensic mental health care in their local context.

POST is a reciprocal program and throughout 2014 many Fellows were provided with the opportunity to share information about their countries, mental health systems and roles with Victorian mental health workers. In particular, the Myanmar AAF fellows presented with great interest to the North West Area Mental Health Colloquium. The fellows discussed the current mental health challenges in Myanmar and strategies going forward to develop specialist mental health services. Similarly, the Fellows from Laos PDR collaborated with AAMH staff to provide an interesting presentation to the St Vincent’s Mental Health Department on recovery, and Malaysian psychiatrist Dr. Umi Silim gave a fantastic summary of her 9 month clinical attachment in consultation liaison psychiatry.

In what has been a busy and rewarding year for the POST Program, AAMH looks forward to welcoming new Fellows from Hong Kong, China and Singapore to Melbourne in early 2015.