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Getting it Right for Wollemi Kids

Orange Health Service
Project Added:
6 April 2016
Last updated:
20 April 2021

Getting it Right for Wollemi Kids


Wollemi Kids increased the size and capacity of its team and refurbished its ward, to improve service delivery and better address the needs of young people in the service.


To deliver a consistent program of clinical interventions that are guided by best practice principles and responsive to the therapeutic needs of young people, within three months.


  • Improves skills, knowledge and motivation of staff through ongoing education.
  • Improves collaboration and engagement with young people and their carers.
  • Creates a physical environment that is conducive to therapeutic work.
  • Increases staff engagement and retention, with an increased level of nursing staff.


Wollemi Kids is an acute Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) located in Orange, NSW.  It provides mental health services for families and young people admitted to Orange Health Service. In 2015, Clinical Practice Improvement training was undertaken by CAMHS staff that allowed the team to consider what improvements could be made to the service.


  • A multidisciplinary team of CAMHS staff members was developed, to identify the barriers to addressing the needs of young people in the service. Feedback from working party discussions included the following themes:
    • not enough physical activity
    • not enough one-on-one time with clinicians
    • the weekly program is not personalised enough
    • young people are bored
    • there is a reliance on allied health staff for group activities
    • there is a lack of family and carer participation
    • there is no family education program available
    • the physical environment is not conducive to therapeutic work
    • allied health staff are not covered if away
    • there is difficulty in recruiting the right nursing staff
    • staff do not understand trauma informed care
    • there is no time for nursing staff to attend training sessions
    • there is difficulty in getting group resources
    • there is a need for art and music therapy resources and capacity to provide
    • there is a lack of continuity in staff.
  • Discussions with young people showed they experienced boredom and thought there should be more games and sports equipment.
  • The nursing unit manager (NUM) worked closely with the nursing executive, to actively seek staff who were motivated to work in the CAMHS unit.
  • A ward renovation was undertaken, to create an environment conducive to therapeutic work. Additional resources were purchased through financial support from community organisations.
  • A staff education week was held from 26-30 October 2015, covering a range of topics including adolescent development, sexual safety, trauma, parenting and attachment, medication, group skills, burnout and self-care, psychological strategies, clinical formulation and more.

Project status

  • Sustained - the initiative has been implemented and is sustained in standard business.

Key dates

  • August 2014 to October 2015

Implementation site

  • Wollemi Kids CAMHS Unit, Orange Health Service


  • Clinical Practice Improvement
  • Bloomfield Hospital


  • Training was evaluated by participant surveys, with all participants finding the training useful. Positive feedback was received for all components, with the greatest impact from 'Talks at Google’ and ‘Brainstorm’ by Dan Siegel, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry; ‘The Cycle of Aggression’ by Matt Dowton, Clinical Psychologist; and ‘The Use of Sensory Strategies for Regulation’ by Belinda Lee, Dietitian and Natalie Clarke, Occupational Therapist.
  • New equipment was positively received by young people. An evaluation of the equipment was made during group time, with the most positive feedback received for the Kloudsac large floor cushions, punching bag and gloves.

Lessons learnt

We realised that it’s not a three-month process of improvement, but an ongoing one. There is always a responsibility to look at how we can best serve young people.  In our case, engagement of our team in training and activities that bolster their skills and motivation was positively received. We will not be able to fully realise our goals until we have a full complement of nursing staff and all staff are trained in understanding the importance of trauma informed care.

Further reading



Natalie Clarke
Occupational Therapist
Western NSW Local Health District
Phone: 02 6369 7319

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