Why Australia?

There is nothing more mind-bending about Grafton than its involvement with the State of Victoria in Australia! It seems strange somehow that a 50-year-old provider based in Virginia would be sending teams 10,000 miles away for the purpose of training and case consultation. This may seem especially strange to those of us embroiled in the day-to-day challenge of providing life changing care to our clients back home during this turbulent era of American healthcare reform.

I recently returned from a trip to Melbourne, Australia, in which we provided case consultation services for two individuals in the care of the Victorian Department of Human Services, and provided training services to three private organizations as well as the Victorian Department of Education. These organizations sought Grafton’s advice due to the methods and practices we have developed during the past decade.

In 2009, Kim Sanders authored an article in the Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, which made the ethical and business case for the substantial restraint reduction we have achieved. This article caught the attention of the Office of the Senior Practitioner in Victoria, who invited us to present at a conference in Singapore in 2009. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recognized our clinical best practices in an issue brief published in March 2010. From there, Grafton was asked to provide training services to a variety of groups in Australia over the course of the next couple years, culminating in the current work with the Victoria Department of Human Services.

So, you may be asking yourself how this information about Australia relates to those of us working back in the US. The answer is very clear to me. What we have done at Grafton has led to “thought leadership” (best practices) in the form of Goal Mastery and Ukeru www.grafton.org/innovation/. This is not about the expertise of the team (although they are experts), it’s about the power of our ideas, which came out of our activities as a care provider. These ideas have garnered international attention. This international attention is in turn creating a whole new way for us to fulfill our mission, not only in the US, but with our colleagues around the world.
Grafton has excellent potential in Australia. We have incorporated a company under the leadership of Daryl Lang, the former Manager of the Office of the Senior Practitioner. We have sent teams to Australia at least once every three months in the past year. We are seeking to create affiliations with other providers of care that will extend our best practices, allow us to exchange ideas, and create staff exchange programs.

In short, it is a joy to be there because we are there for the right reasons: promoting best practices in behavioral healthcare. We are able to talk to groups from the perspective of being more than just experts in one area, but also a direct provider of care: we intimately understand their challenges and triumphs. And ultimately we are there at the direct invitation of stakeholders throughout their system, not because of a desire to expand internationally. It’s an exhilarating experience for us, and we look forward to continuing the journey.

For more information about our work in Grafton Australia please visit www.grafton.asn.au.