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Mental Health, Drugs & Alcohol Service Inter-professional Graduate Program

The program – purpose, philosophy and aims

The Mental Health, Drugs and Alcohol Service (MHDAS) Graduate Entry to Practice Program aims to:

  • Build upon the undergraduate program and facilitate the transition of the graduate from novice to advanced beginner practitioner.
  • Integrate the graduate into the Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Service by providing clinical support, educational experiences and activities.
  • Assist the graduate to develop clinical competency to perform safely, confidently and professionally within his / her role delineation.
  • Promote a learning environment of connectedness, support & continuity this fosters the journey that values the process of furthering knowledge and expertise.

General information

The program is open to six nursing positions (annually) and one occupational therapy (OT) position (two yearly - OT graduates will be eligible to apply in 2019 for the 2020 Graduate program).

MHDAS Nursing Graduates at Barwon Health are employed to work part-time (eight days a fortnight) for 12 months. OT graduates are employed to work part time (six days a fortnight) within a 12 month - two year program.

All graduates attend a 5 day orientation program at the beginning of the graduate program, followed by a three-day Management of Violence and Aggression Training (MOVAIT) course.

Our program commences early February each year. Barwon Health participates in the PMCV computer match process for all graduate nurse positions.

Graduate support & education

During your graduate year/s at MHDAS, you will receive support from a variety of people including your preceptors, clinical staff, managers, other graduates and of course the graduate support team. Whilst there are great clinical staff and educators in your areas, graduates are supported by the Graduate Coordinator and the MHDAS Education Team.

As part of the transition from student to registered practitioner, graduates are also provided with opportunities to learn and reflect on their practice outside of their clinical areas. This includes:

Clinical supervision

All graduates are provided with a trained Clinical Supervisor, who is also a member of the MHDAS education team. All graduates are entitled to and expected to attend at least one hour per month to allow for an opportunity for graduates to discuss any issues in a confidential and supported environment. Clinical supervision sessions provide a safe venue for graduates to reflect on their practice, discuss client issues and other information that the Graduate feels is relevant to their growth as practitioner.

Graduate study days

Graduates attend paid study days held throughout the year. 

Topics aim to increase the development of personal and professional skills and knowledge, looking at the changing work environment, legislation and policy in mental health and opportunity to broaden a wide range of clinical skills.

All graduates will complete a two-day Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) workshop.

Clinical competencies

Graduates are expected to complete core competencies related Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD). Graduates may also complete learning modules that they find of interest.

Graduates are required to complete a range of clinical skills assessments and a 20 minute consumer story presentation. Both the clinical skills assessments and consumer story require the graduate to critically appraise and reflect on practice. The consumer story is submitted as a paper and is also presented to the graduate team in the final study block of the year.

Graduates are also provided with a professional development record folder to document their achievements throughout the year.

Graduates are invited to a Graduation Ceremony as arranged by the Graduate Program Coordinators at the end of their programs completion.

Graduate Program

  • Nursing graduates complete three x 14 week clinical rotations across our Psychiatric Inpatient Unit- Swanston Centre (University Hospital Geelong), Psychogeriatric Inpatient care- Blakiston Lodge (McKellar Centre) and Psychiatric Community Rehabilitation Facility (Belmont).
  • Nursing graduates complete a six-week rotation from one of the following areas:
    • Drug and Alcohol Services
    • Adult Community Mental Health
    • Youth Mental Health
    • Aged Mental health
    • Forensic Mental Health
    • Child and Adolescent Mental Health

The Occupational Therapist Graduate will be provided with a specialist experience in the Mental Health Drugs and Alcohol Service- specific rotation/s will be outlined on the recruitment advertisement on the Barwon health website (see How to Apply- Occupational Therapy).

Post Graduate Nursing Program

Mental Health Nursing Graduates are automatically eligible for recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) for three subjects into the University of Melbourne Post Graduate Nursing Diploma in Mental Health following successful completion of all rotations and clinical and theoretical assessment in the Graduate Program. All successful nursing graduates are expected and supported to undertake this Post Graduate Program following completion of the Graduate Program. Post Graduates are financially supported by a Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) and scholarships are available. MHDAS provides the required clinical hours and rotations to facilitate the training.



Kayla, Mental Health Nurse

"I am currently one of the graduate nurses completing my graduate year in mental health. I have felt supported every step of the way. I have been given a range of different experiences in the mental health area, from experiences in the community, complex care, forensic care, aged care and the acute setting. This graduate program supports you in growing and expanding your knowledge with many study days throughout the year. No question has been a silly question and this graduate year has made my transition into a mental health nursing a breeze!"


Shine, Mental Health Nurse

"I am currently in post-graduate year. My initial graduate year was excellent and there were plenty of opportunities to learn and build upon my mental health nursing skills. I would say the exact same for my post-graduate year. I've always felt well supported and looked after. The study days were great and it was enjoyable working in a range of different areas including acute, sub-acute, and community settings. Barwon Health's graduate program has been very enriching and I wouldn't have it any other way!"

Click here to view a map. 

How to apply

Nursing - Barwon Health participates in the PMCV computer match process. It is important to ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria to participate in the computer match process prior to applying for graduate nurse positions.

Submit applications online via the Barwon Health vacancies site as per PMCV dates.

The following persons are eligible to apply via the PMCV computer match process:

  • Victorian Nurse Graduates/Midwifery Graduates, who are Australian citizens/permanent residents
  • Interstate Nurse Graduates/Midwifery Graduates, who are Australian citizens/permanent residents
  • New Zealand Nurse Graduates/Midwifery Graduates, who are New Zealand citizens

International students cannot apply to PMCV if they do not hold permanent residency status.

For more information regarding the PMCV computer match process, please visit

Occupational Therapy - Positions will be advertised on the Barwon Health employment website. Applicants are encouraged to subscribe to this site for notification of upcoming Graduate OT positions.    

When applying for a graduate program at Barwon Health Mental Health Drugs and Alcohol Services please include the following:

  • Letter of application plus Curriculum Vitae and/or Professional Portfolio.
  • A current, passport sized photo attached (or scanned)
  • Copies of all 2nd, 3rd and 4th (if applicable) year clinical assessments
  • At least one recent Mental Health placement appraisal
  • A  transcript of all academic results (including key to results),
  • Names and contact numbers of two clinical referees - preferably with one from most recent mental health placement
  • A 250 word statement outlining reasons for applying for Psychiatric Graduate Year Program at Barwon Mental Health, Drugs and Alcohol Service, in particular why the applicant is choosing to define a professional pathway into mental health.
  • Detail of experience of mental health, drug and alcohol services, e.g. placement, employment, volunteer or personal.

If your application has been successful, you will be asked to attend an interview. You will be provided with the interview questions 10 minutes prior to your interview and can expect to interviewed by three staff members. The interview will last approximately 45 minutes and you will have the opportunity to ask questions at the end of your interview.

Contact us

Enquiries to

Last Modified: Wednesday, 06 November 2019