Pitopito kōrero


New ³ܰ director to oversee expansion of e-learning offering

11 October 2022
³ܰ has a new director. Abigail Milnes, who became acting director in September 2021, has been confirmed to continue permanently in the role.

, managed by UniServices, provides evidence-based learning and development for people who work in child and youth mental health. Contracted by the ministries of Health and Education, it provides workforce development in best-practice approaches to mental health and wellbeing as well as support in systems and service improvement.

“Equity for people in Aotearoa is the cornerstone of ³ܰ,” says Milnes. “We are here to support the workforce and help them be the best they can.”

Milnes has been with the UniServices-run ³ܰ, which is based on Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Ƶresearch, for seven years. She previously worked at the Ministry of Health in policy and workforce development roles.

Milnes will lead ³ܰ through an expansion of its e-learning offering. Though it once supported a primarily clinically based workforce, ³ܰ has extended its training and resources to community workers, social workers, teachers and people with lived experience of mental health challenges who provide peer support.

Milnes is also excited about an e-learning partnership with fellow UniServices business unit Tui Tuia | Learning Circle, which provides professional development for teachers.

The online learning will be launched in 2023 and will include e-modules and supporting webinars designed to help school staff minimise student distress and the need to use physical restraint.

“Equity for people in Aotearoa is the cornerstone of ³ܰ. We are here to support the workforce and help them be the best they can.”

Aigail Milnes, Director, ³ܰ

There is a lot of potential in this piece of work, says Milnes, particularly because schools tend to be siloed. Teachers deal with the immediate needs of students in front of them the best they can, sometimes without awareness of what amplifies distress or the external support available for a struggling young person or whānau.

Asking the workforce for more detailed feedback will be a priority for Milnes and she plans to seek views, not only on individual workshops or webinars, but about the work of ³ܰ overall.

“We want to find out if our strategies are working for them, including our website and learning management system, our virtual hui and our regional visits,” says Milnes.

The ³ܰ team includes staff from diverse training backgrounds and perspectives, including backgrounds in clinical training, Te Ao Māori, Pacific approaches, project management and policy development. This broad skillset is useful because projects are always evaluated from a range of viewpoints and through lived experience, says Milnes.

³ܰ also works closely with other providers, including Te Pou, Le Va and Te Rau Ora – the adult, Pacific and Māori mental health workforce development centres. These relationships are beneficial and reciprocal.