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Behind the Build with Tania Thomas

Recruitment for the new Secure Mental Health Rehabilitation Unit (SMHRU) is in full swing, with Tania Thomas recently joining as Acting Nursing Director. Her compassionate and methodical leadership will be crucial when the facility opens its first 20 beds in early 2025. Discover her vision for providing rehabilitative care and breaking down mental health barriers.

What led you to this role?

I have over eleven years of diverse experience in Mental Health, having worked both internationally and in Australia. For the past five years, I have been based on the Gold Coast. From the very beginning of the Secure Mental Health Rehabilitation Unit (SMHRU), I've been actively involved in discussions with the Nursing Director and the project team. So, when the opportunity arose to step in and cover for the Nursing Director during their leave, I was eager to help.

What is your vision as Acting Nursing Director for Secure Mental Health Rehabilitation Unit (SMHRU)?

I see this new service as a place where compassionate, person-centred and contemporary mental health care thrives. It's all about creating a therapeutic and safe environment to help individuals with complex needs build resilience and achieve their recovery goals. My vision is for them to lead independent, meaningful and well-connected lives. I also hope staff here will be champions of providing care that's least restrictive, rehabilitative and recovery oriented. Together, we'll promote a culture of success every step of the way.

What challenges come from starting a service from scratch?

As anyone could imagine there are innumerable challenges when starting a service from scratch. From building an impeccable reputation to delivering services on time and ensuring its sustainability in all aspects, all of these could be seen as hurdles. However, with meticulous planning and adequate foresight, no unforeseen challenge is insurmountable. 

What attracted you to SMHRU?

While working in the acute adult mental health units I have frequently interacted with the existing SMHRUs in Queensland. When this long-standing plan was coming to fruition, I was excited to see its development unfold right at our doorstep. This facility will help our consumers and the wider community receive quality mental health care. Plus, it’s going to play a huge role in shattering the stigma surrounding mental health.  

What do you do to look after your own mental health?

I make a point to compartmentalise my work and home life so I can be fully present in my roles and keep a healthy balance. Self-reflection and clinical supervision are key parts of my routine. Staying organised helps me avoid feeling overwhelmed. For self-care, I find cooking therapeutic, and it doubles as quality family time.

Interested in joining the SMHRU Team?

We are recruiting for both clinical and non-clinical positions through SmartJobs.

For further information about recruitment opportunities. Contact the SMHRU Clinical Leadership Team via email:

Want to know more?

Executive Director for Mental Health & Specialist Services, Malcolm McCann, and his team highlight the promising opportunities for recruits at the new SMHRU in this video here.

Last updated 12 Jul 2024