Allied health, non-government organisation and university partnerships building an evidence base for a consumer peer-led education program in youth mental health

Ms Cate Bourke1, Dr Primrose Lentin2, Ms Kate Higgins3, Ms Mia Thiedeman-Brown1, Mr Matt Boyd2, Mr Justin McKenzie3, Ms Evie  Thomas1, Ms Samantha Buis1

1Mental Health Program, Eastern Health, East Ringwood, Australia, 2Department of Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University., Frankston, Australia, 3Wellways, Fairfield, Australia



To describe the development of a successful partnership between a child and youth mental health service, a mental health community service and a university, that enabled evaluation of a consumer peer-led youth mental health program.


Using principles of project development as well as key discipline and consumer related models, the background, rationale and processes that underpinned the partnership development will be analysed.  Key learnings regarding the building of the partnership, including policy, organisational, consumer and allied health influences will be presented as well as outcomes including benefits to consumers, staff, organisations and student practice.


Change in mental health policy and practice from a medical model to a recovery based model means that new approaches are required to guide and evaluate practice. Services report finding the time and resources to develop these approaches is a challenge.  Allied health professionals have a range of collaborative partnership skills and working in partnership has helped address this challenge. Keeping consumers central to the partnership has led to a culture of innovation and trialing of new consumer-led practices, this has helped drive an agenda for research that is relevant to consumers.

Significance of the findings to allied health:

To provide effective and responsive services to consumers an ability to establish interagency collaborations and meaningful partnerships is needed. Within this paper, the ways in which the allied health workforce can develop, establish, maintain and evaluate these innovative approaches and partnerships are discussed.