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Child and Adolescent Mental Health

South West Healthcare CAMHS is a specialist mental health assessment and treatment service for infants, children and young people up to 18 years of age.

How to refer a young person to CAHMS

Anyone can make a referral to CAMHS

Information required for a referral:

  • Personal details of the young person & guardians including consent from the legal guardians.
  • Current concern & symptoms
  • History of the concern & interventions
  • Day-to-day functioning eg. academic functioning, relationships, self-care
  • Family circumstances & relationships
  • Known risk factors, including trauma, self-harm or alcohol & substance use.
  • Medications

For further information or to make a referral please call the CAMHS Duty Worker on:

Phone (03) 5561 9100

Or write to us at:

SWH Mental Health Services
Koroit Street Warrnambool 3280

Fax (03) 5561 3813

What Is CAMHS?

CAMHS is made up of a team of professionals including Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Social Workers, Occupational Therapists and Nurses.

CAMHS accept referrals of young people up to 18 years of age who reside within the shires of Warrnambool, Glenelg, Moyne, Southern Grampians, and Corangamite.

Who Do CAMHS See?

CAMHS see children and young people with complex and severe emotional, behavioural or social difficulties.

The Infant Mental Health Programme (IMP)

The Infant Mental Health Programme (IMP) specialises in the concerns of very young children. IMP sees parents with infants up to 3 years of age, where there are concerns for the infant’s emotional wellbeing, health or development, or where there are concerns for the parent-infant relationship. IMP is part of the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service, a team of professionals including Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Social Workers, Occupational Therapists and Nurses. Offices are located in Warrnambool, Portland, Hamilton and Camperdown, but staff travel to the surrounding areas to see clients and their families, and liaise with other practitioners, in their local communities.

  • Who do we see?

    The Infant Mental Health Programme sees a range of concerns including:

    • Frequent crying or irritability
    • An inability to be calmed by parents
    • Gaze avoidance
    • Persistent food refusal
    • Significant sleep disturbances
    • Failure to thrive
    • Bonding difficulties
    • Frequent aggression or defiance
    • Excessive fears or clinginess
    • Parental distress, or concerning parental responses to their infant

    Prior consultation with an infant healthcare professional (e.g. Maternal Child Health Nurse) is preferred & may be required.

  • What therapy is offered?

    Initial sessions are spent discussing parental concerns, and spending time with parents and their infants, in order to gain an understanding of the family’s experiences as well as what might be contributing to their concerns.

    A plan can then be developed with parents for how we can best help. Individual or group therapy is available. A range of therapeutic approaches are used, including education around infant development, guidance in playful and responsive family interactions, and supportive counselling for parents regarding their own experiences.

    Videotaping of infant and family interactions is often used to assist parents find solutions to their concerns.

    For further information or to make a referral please call the CAMHS Duty Worker on:

    (03) 5561 9100

    Or write to us at:

    PO Box 197, Warrnambool 3280

    Fax (03) 5561 3813

    The following information is useful for us at referral:

    • Personal details of the child & their parents/guardians
    • Current concerns for the infant, including temperament & behaviour
    • Milestones & general development
    • Physical health & current medications
    • Family circumstances & relationships
    • Known risk factors
  • Privacy & Confidentiality

    Referrals accepted & information released only with parent or guardian consent. Exceptions apply under mandatory reporting & duty of care requirements.

  • The Circle of Security (COS) Group

    The Circle of Security (COS) group is an early intervention program designed to help parents/caregivers improve their confidence in parenting skills. It is a well-researched program, utilised world-wide to assist parents in understanding and responding to their child’s needs.

    It helps infants and children develop the important building blocks of trust, security and safety in their own personal development. Circle of Security uses the concept of a safe base to give parents an understanding of how to support their child’s ongoing development.

    Circle of Security helps parents to develop strategies and an understanding of their child’s needs and behaviours within a supportive parent group environment.

    The program is suitable for parents of a child up to 12 years of age and is an 8 week program. Feedback from previous participants has highlighted the benefits and increased confidence parents gained from participating.

    Some of the feedback from previous groups has included: “My child is much calmer” “I did not feel judged” “The group was so supportive” “I’m not alone”.

    You may find this group beneficial if:

    • stress or illness is impacting on your parenting
    • you are not feeling confident with your parenting
    • you are concerned about your relationship with your child
    • Your child is displaying concerning behaviour

    The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service are offering current consumers/carers an opportunity to participate in Circle of Security groups that are conducted throughout the year. Your child does not need to be a current consumer of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) to be eligible to participate in the group. Financial assistance may be available to support your attendance and can be discussed upon your expression of interest. For example petrol vouchers for those travelling, child care etc.

    If you are interested in finding out more or would like to participate in a future group please contact Rachel Robertson on (03) 5561 9100 for more details.

Page last updated: 24 January 2021

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