Mental Health in Multicultural Australia Project

The Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (MHiMA) project is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health to provide a national focus for advice and support to providers and governments on mental health and suicide prevention for people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) backgrounds. This involves representation and support for CaLD communities’ interests in the mental health sector and raising awareness of mental illness and suicide prevention in CaLD communities.

Mental Health Australia was originally engaged by the Department of Health to manage the MHiMA Project from late September 2015 until 30 June 2016. In late March 2016 we submitted a recommendations report to the Department of Health about the future of the Project. This recommendations report, including all associated attachments (the public consultation report, the Review of the Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia, notes from the NCCCWG and Project Advisory Group meetings about the recommendations, and draft operating specifications for a national multicultural mental health program) can now be accessed via the links below. 

In May 2016, the Department decided to extend the MHiMA Project to 31 December 2016, while Government considered the findings from our recommendations report. This six month extension was an interim measure which only allowed for limited project activities.

MHiMA Project Future Directions

In late November 2016 and in response to our recommendations report, the Minister for Health, Hon Sussan Ley MP advised that the Australian Government will continue to support the MHiMA Project beyond December 2016. The Minister also advised a targeted competitive approach to market will be undertaken in 2017 to determine the most appropriate project lead for the longer term. While it is unclear at this stage what the future project will look like, we see this news as a positive step towards providing long term certainty and investment in multicultural mental health.

The Minister for Health also offered Mental Health Australia a six month MHiMA Project extension in late November 2016, while the selective tender process is occurring. The Mental Health Australia Board, however, has taken a decision not to accept any further short term extensions for the MHiMA Project. This decision has not been taken lightly by our Board, but stems from our view that further short term arrangements are not satisfactory and place the longer term future of the project, and the good will of stakeholders, at ongoing jeopardy.

Current MHiMA Project activities will be completed by 31 December 2016. Mental Health Australia will continue to maintain the MHiMA website, including the Framework elements, while the process to determine the future project lead is undertaken. 

While this iteration of the MHiMA Project will close at the end of the year, Mental Health Australia will continue to do all we can to secure effective long term investment in multicultural mental health.

MHiMA Project Updates

Future updates on the MHiMA Project will be shared through the MHiMA website and the Mental Health Australia CEO Weekly Update, as they arise. If you would like to stay updated on the MHiMA Project, please visit the website or sign up for updates here (free subscription).

For further information about the MHiMA Project please visit the MHiMA website.

Recommendations for Future Directions Report

Mental Health Australia worked very closely with a diverse and broad range of stakeholders to develop agreed recommendations about the future shape of a national multicultural mental health program. This included face-to-face workshops with the National CaLD Consumer & Carer Working Group (NCCCWG) and the MHiMA Project Advisory Group, along with a public consultation on future directions, and an independent review of the Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia by the Australian Health Services Research Institute (AHSRI). We are grateful for the invaluable input and advice we received from stakeholders, which informed the development of these documents. The recommendations report, including all associated attachments (the public consultation report, the Review of the Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australianotes from the NCCCWG and Project Advisory Group meetings about the recommendations, and draft operating specifications for a national multicultural mental health program) can now be accessed via the links below. 

Introducing the NCCCWG

The MHiMA National Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) Consumer and Carer Working Group (NCCCWG) are the consumer and carer arm of the MHiMA Project. Established in January 2013, the NCCCWG ensures that the views, perspectives and experience of multicultural consumers and carers are embedded across all MHiMA Project activities.

As state and territory representatives on the MHiMA Project, the NCCCWG have the opportunity to provide a unique national voice as CaLD consumer and carers with lived experience of mental illness speaking on behalf of the grassroots CaLD consumers and carers who for a multitude of reasons, do not speak about their experiences, their needs, and their wishes. At a local level, we work to represent our communities through advocating for best practice in service delivery, education and policy development for people with mental illness and their carers of multicultural, immigrant and refugee backgrounds in line with recovery and co-production principles. We bring this knowledge and expertise to our work in the national mental health sphere through MHiMA providing advice, input into policy development and position statements, and a range of other programs that focus on the mental health and well-being of people from these groups.

This year, as part of our ongoing work, the NCCCWG have provided vital input into the development of the MHiMA Project Consultation document and state-wide consultations, and national reform processes including the Draft Submission to MHDAPC on the 5th National Mental Health Plan (attachment below). Through NCCCWG representation on the MHiMA Project Advisory Group, we are ensuring that the CaLD consumer and carer voice is heard into the review of the MHiMA Project.

NCCCWG Meaningful Consensus Statement

The NCCCWG Meaningful Engagement Consensus Statement (attachment below) was developed in May 2014, and is based upon NCCCWG members understanding and experiences of meaningful engagement. The Consensus Statement is a living document that provides six guiding principles the NCCCWG consider form the foundation for genuine and meaningful engagement of mental health consumers, carers and communities from CaLD backgrounds

If you are interested and would like to know more about the work of the NCCCWG, please contact Kaitlin Saunders, MHiMA Project Officer at Kaitlin.Saunders@mhaustralia.org or on 02 6188 6717.

NCCCWG Presentation - Annual Issues and Opportunities Workshop

In May 2016, the MHiMA National CaLD Consumer and Carer Working Group (NCCCWG) were invited to talk about multicultural mental health at the Annual Issues and Opportunities Workshop.

The Workshop is held each year for members of the National Register of Mental Health Consumers and Carers (National Register), the National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum (NMHCCF) and invited guests.

NCCCWG members provided valuable insights from the multicultural perspective on a range of topics including; human rights; culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) participation in mental health reforms; men’s mental health and well-being; parenting, fostering and adopting; and defining recovery.

For further details of the NCCCWG presentations, please see the presentation abstracts here.