A national framework for recovery-oriented mental health services: guide for practitioners and providers

9 Domains and capabilities of recovery-oriented practice and service delivery

Page last updated: 2013

The framework consists of 17 capabilities grouped into five dominant fields of practice known as 'practice domains'.3 The domains are overlapping and should be used concurrently.

Capabilities encompass underlying core principles, values, knowledge, attitudes and behaviours, skills and abilities. Individuals, teams and organisations need these capabilities in order to support people with mental health issues to live a meaningful and contributing life in their community of choice. Attaining and strengthening these capabilities is an ongoing process that takes time and commitment from leaders, professionals, staff and volunteers in mental health service provision.

A detailed description of the domains and associated capabilities can be found in the Appendix at the end of this document.

Domain 1: Promoting a culture and language of hope and optimism is the overarching domain and is integral to the other domains.

Domain 1: Promoting a culture and language of hope and optimism

A service culture and language that makes a person feel valued, important, welcome and safe, communicates positive expectations and promotes hope and optimism—this is central to recovery-oriented practice and service delivery.

Capability 1A: The culture and language of a recovery-oriented mental health service communicates positive expectations, promotes hope and optimism and results in a person feeling valued, important, welcome and safe.

Domain 2: Person 1st and holistic

Putting people who experience mental health issues first and at the centre of practice and service delivery; viewing a person's life situation holistically.
  • Capability 2A: Holistic and person-centred treatment, care, rehabilitation and psychosocial and other recovery support
  • Capability 2B: Responsive to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, families and communities
  • Capability 2C: Responsive to people from immigrant and refugee backgrounds, their families and communities
  • Capability 2D: Responsive to and inclusive of gender, age, culture, spirituality and other diversity irrespective of location and setting
  • Capability 2E: Responsive to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, their families of choice, and communities
  • Capability 2F: Responsive to families, carers and support people Top of page

Domain 3: Supporting personal recovery

Personally defined and led recovery at the heart of practice rather than an additional task.
  • Capability 3A: Promoting autonomy and self-determination
  • Capability 3B: Focusing on strengths and personal responsibility
  • Capability 3C: Collaborative relationships and reflective practice

Domain 4: Organisational commitment and workforce development

Service and work environments and an organisational culture that are conducive to recovery and to building a workforce that is appropriately skilled, equipped, supported and resourced for recovery-oriented practice.
  • Capability 4A: Recovery vision, commitment and culture
  • Capability 4B: Acknowledging, valuing and learning from people’s lived experience and from families, staff and communities
  • Capability 4C: Recovery-promoting service partnerships
  • Capability 4D: Workforce development and planning

Domain 5: Action on social inclusion and the social determinants of health, mental health and wellbeing

Upholding the human rights of people experiencing mental health issues and challenging stigma and discrimination; advocating to address the poor and unequal living circumstances that adversely impact on recovery.
  • Capability 5A: Supporting social inclusion and advocacy on social determinants
  • Capability 5B: Actively challenging stigmatising attitudes and discrimination, and promoting positive understandings
  • Capability 5C: Partnerships with communities. Top of page

Describing the capabilities

Each key capability is described in detail in the Appendix using the following defining characteristics4:
  • Core principles that should govern all practice, decisions and interactions in the provision of mental health care within the relevant domain
  • Values, knowledge, behaviours and skills consistent with recovery-oriented practice required to enact the core principles
  • Recovery-oriented practice examples intended to support individual practitioners to translate principles of recovery into their daily practice.
  • Recovery-oriented leadership examples directed at service leaders and managers that describe activities and governance structures that could be expected of a recovery-oriented organisation
  • Opportunities during implementation
  • Resources to guide and support implementation.


3 The domains are consistent with those identified in the Victorian Department of Health's Framework for recovery-oriented practice 2011 as well with the practice development pathways identified in the Queensland Health and Community Services Workforce Council's Values into action: community mental health practice framework (2012). The domains and their capabilities are also consistent with the evidence-based schema of Le Boutillier et al. (2011).
4 This structure draws heavily on the Victorian Department of Health's Framework for recovery-oriented practice (2011).