Andrew Mallett

Andrew Mallett - a potted history

Starting hospital-based training in England in the Winter of 1984, Andy emerged as a Registered Psychiatric Nurse three years later. He worked at some of the big erstwhile 'lunatic asylums' in Norwich including Hellesdon Hopsital, Thorpe St. Andrews, The David Rice Hospital and The Norvic (Forensic) Clinic.

Many former inpatients were being encouraged to become more independent and to return to lives within the community. This was a total turn around from the former times of locking the 'mad' ones away from the public eye, often into a lifetime of institutional care.

It was a period of great change in attitudes and approach to the care of the mentally ill and it was an interesting time to be in working Psychiatry. It saw the tail end of the old 'family' of the mental institutions as well as the new beginnings of the community focus.

A couple of years later saw Andy leaving England's green-and-pleasant-land for Australia, backpacking through South East Asia for three months. He even sent his motorbike over. After working in private mental health in Sydney, Andy rode around the Eastern states of Australia for several months. He ended up in Townsville in Northern Queensland and worked as a Community Psychiatric Nurse. This was at the time when the infamous Ward 10B enquiry was at its height, examining alleged abuses occuring on the ward throughout the previous 10 years.

After applying for permanent residency, Andy rode down to Tasmania at the end of 1990. He worked in the acute psychiatric unit and later moved on to co-running a day centre for long term mentally ill people in the Launceston and wider community. Nurse training in Australia was moving from hospitals to universities and it was time do some more study. This involved returning to NSW in 1993 to undertake a Bachelor of Nursing degree at Sydney's University of Technology.

After graduating Andy considered taking some time off, travelling and teaching English. He undertook an intensive TEFLA Certificate at the Bondhi Junction School of English and tutored overseas students, whilst working as a Nurse Unit Manager at Sydney's Northside Clinic. However a position at Redfern Community Mental Health Services changed the travel plans and instead Andy ended up undertaking a Graduate Diploma in Psychotherapy.

An interest in computers (internet connectivity was just starting) led to Andy undertaking more training and moving to Rozelle Hospital to help manage an IT infrastructure for various hospitals and health centres around central Sydney. During this time Andy was asked by the Professor of Psychiatry (later the Governor of NSW) to run a Shared Care in Mental Health project, to give GPs increased training in Psychiatry.

After spending some time travelling between Australia, the UK and Greece Andy took a position as a Team Leader at Compaq Computers in Western Sydney in 1999. This included developing and supplying computer systems to Australian forces serving in East Timor. The systems had to be robust enough to be run from a generator in the middle of a field if necessary.

Returning to Tas in 2000, Andy took a teaching position with TAFE Tasmania, whilst also picking up nursing shifts with the Department of Psychiatry. Teaching offered Andy the chance to undertake more training and gain more certification in both the IT and VET (Vocational Education & Training) field. Andy later transferred to Tafe's Health Aged Care and Enrolled Nursing programme, shifting from teaching IT to teaching Nursing,

A background in information technology and nursing were about to lead to yet another unexpected opportunity. In 2008 while undertaking a Masters Degree in Clinical Nursing, Andy was asked to join the faculty. The University of Tasmania needed someone with clinical and IT skills to develop their new simulation centre, used for training nursing and medical students. Closely resembling a pukka acute clinical facility, the centre housed a number of 'Sim People' - simulated humans on whom clinicians could practise their skills at resuscitation and other interventions. It was a time of developing cutting-edge training facilities at campuses in Tasmania and Sydney and Andy also lectured in med/surg/psych Nursing at the Tassie campus.

Much as he loved teaching, Andy began once again hankering for life at the coalface of psychiatry. So 2010 saw a return to clinical work with the community mental health team and later with the Medicare-funded Mental Health Nurse Incentive Programme. This involved working in primary mental health, taking GP referrals for patients requiring psychotherapy and treatment for more severe forms of mental illness.

With Tasmania feeling more and more like home, Andy continues to work in a number of clinical settings, including public and private, inpatient and community mental health and also with the blood service.

Andy Mallett