A new post-graduate degree at La Trobe University in Bendigo aims to bring more psychologists to work and live in rural and regional areas.
The one-year Master of Professional Psychology – which sets graduates up for their final year of supervised practice to become a registered psychologist – will be offered in Bendigo for the first time from 2020. It means rural students can now complete their entire psychology qualification in Bendigo.
La Trobe University Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Dr Carina Chan, said the course will create opportunities for regional communities to better address growing mental health issues.
“We know through our own experiences – and through the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System’s interim report – that people living in rural and regional areas find it harder to access quality mental health care.
“We need to attract and retain good psychologists to these areas, and give them the experience and support they need to remain there long-term.
“This course will allow students to complete both their studies and work placements in small towns and regional cities, better equipping them for a long-term career in the bush,” Dr Chan said.
Director of Bendigo and Echuca-based psychology clinic, Thrive Wellness and Consulting, Dr Cara Tucker said practising psychology in regional areas required a unique skill set.
“Regional and rural-based psychologists work with clients that other psychologists may not get exposure to, such as those affected by drought and bushfire.
“The rural focus of this course – and the fact that it will be attracting students who may already live regionally and understand these issues – is a very positive thing for the industry,” Dr Tucker said.
Each year around one in five Victorians will experience mental illness. Almost half of the state’s population will experience mental illness over the course of their lifetime.*
The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System found that: “People living in rural and regional areas can face additional challenges, among them stigma and access to services.
“Although in general the prevalence of mental illness is the same as in metropolitan Melbourne, suicide rates are higher in rural and regional Victoria.” **
The Master of Professional Psychology is a full-time one-year course, offered via a blend of contact hours in Bendigo, and web-based learning.
Applicants outside of the Bendigo region are welcome to apply as they are required at the campus face-to-face for just a few days (in a block) every month.