The Infant Mental Health Competency Guidelines and Endorsement® Project

AAIMH WA has been leading the way, nationally and internationally, as the first affiliate of the World Association for Infant Mental Health (WAIMH) outside the USA to have a licensing agreement to adapt and use the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health (MI-AIMH) Competency Guidelines for Culturally-Sensitive, Relationship-Focused Practice Promoting Infant Mental Health®.

This initiative is part of our mission 'to champion the social and emotional wellbeing of infants and young children and their families through professional development, education and advocacy'.

The project opens up a wide range of opportunities, including:

  • bringing increased visibility to the mental health needs and social and emotional wellbeing of infants and young children
  • providing the competency framework for all workers and professionals involved with infants and young children (from conception to 36 months of age) and their families
  • achieving a significant profile and recognition for AAIMH WA, which will enable our work in community awareness, professional education and advocacy
  • growing an interdisciplinary and cohesive community of practice.

How the project started

In 2013 AAIMH WA* collaborated with the Western Australian Mental Health Commission (MHC) on the innovative  'Building the Mental Health of Infants and Young Children: Workforce Competency-Based Training Project'.

The project included 60 interviews with stakeholders from all disciplines and levels of service to infants, young children and their families, and a comprehensive review of infant mental health (IMH) competency frameworks from around the world.

The MI-AIMH Competency Guidelines were identified as the most authoritative and comprehensive set of IMH competency guidelines worldwide. 

The MI-AIMH framework, which includes an Endorsement component, is a successful evidence-based approach to build workforce capacity in IMH.

A key feature is the articulation of eight areas of competencies specific to reflective practice across a range of disciplines in the infant, early childhood and family workforce:

  • theoretical foundations
  • law
  • regulations and agency policy
  • systems expertise
  • direct service skills
  • working with others
  • communicating
  • thinking, and
  • reflection.

The report 'Building the Mental Health of Infants and Young Children: Workforce Competency-Based Training Project' was submitted to the MHC in 2013. 

In response to the findings of the report, AAIMH WA purchased a licence from MI-AIMH to adapt and use the Competency Guidelines® as standards to promote IMH in Western Australia.

*Note: AAIMH WA was known as 'AAIMHI WA' in 2013.

Adapting the MI-AIMH Competency Guidelines®
for Western Australia

Joint AAIMH WA Committee and Competency Guidelines Working Group workshop with
MI-AIMH Executive Director Deborah Weatherston (standing, third from left), on 28 March 2015 

AAIMH WA established the Competency Guidelines Working Group in 2014. The group included eleven members from a range of disciplines across agencies in metropolitan and regional WA.  Working closely with MI-AIMH, the group reviewed the MI-AIMH Competency Guidelines® and adapted them to make them culturally appropriate for the WA context.

In March 2015, the 'AAIMH WA Competency Guidelines for Culturally-Sensitive, Relationship-Focused Practice Promoting Infant Mental Health® ' (the Competency Guidelines) were launched in Perth.

MI-AIMH Executive Director Dr Deborah Weatherston and MHC senior policy officer Kate Civitella joined AAIMH WA President Rochelle Matacz to introduce the new guidelines and to highlight their significance for the many workers and professionals in the infant, young children and family field in Western Australia. 

Participants engaging in the 'Welcome to Country' at the launch of the
AAIMH WA Competency Guidelines
® on 27 March 2015 

We specifically acknowledge the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the WA community. The Competency Working Group continues to collaborate with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues and elders to ensure the competencies are appropriate, relevant and meaningful for infants, young children in their communities, and for the professionals working with them.

Bringing the AAIMH WA Endorsement®
to the WA workforce

  • Since 2015, after consultation with our members, the AAIMH WA Seminar Series is aligned with the eight competency areas of the Guidelines.

  • Edith Cowan University (ECU) established the Pregnancy to Parenthood Clinic in Wanneroo. This free perinatal and IMH service is a training program for students completing a Masters in Clinical Psychology, designed to ensure the students meet the standards of the AAIMH WA Competency Guidelines®.

  • In February 2016, AAIMH WA purchased the MI-AIMH Endorsement® licence. With funding support from the MHC, the Competency Working Group received group-based reflective supervision during 12 months, in preparation for their application for Endorsement with MI-AIMH. Ten working group members applied for Endorsement, which they obtained in November 2016. 

  • The Competency Guidelines Working group started work on the adaptation of the Endorsement process for the WA context in 2017, changing its name to  Competency Guidelines and Endorsement Working Group.

  • In 2018, AAIMH WA received funding from the MHC for the Endorsement Implementation project. The project started in November 2018, aiming to be ready to invite AAIMH WA members to apply for Endorsement by end January 2020.

  • The AAIMH Competency Guidelines® are available to download below. For copyright reasons, only one copy can be downloaded for personal use - see copyright notice in the document.

AAIMH Competency Guidelines® AAIMH Competency Guidelines®

For comprehensive information about AAIMH WA Endorsement® and how to apply, go to AAIMH WA Competency Guidelines & Endorsement®.