CEO Update - 11 December
And we thought 2013 was a busy year!
This will be my last update for 2014. I will be taking a break and will start the update when I return again in late January.
We are greatly indebted to our members and friends for the input and support you provide us over the course of the year. So as 2014 draws to a close I though it timely to reflect on all our achievements here at Mental Health Australia throughout the year - and look forward to all that remains to be done.
The major focus for much of our advocacy and consultation work throughout the year has been the National Mental Health Commission’s Review. With your input, the Policy team have worked tirelessly to produce four separate submissions to the Review, culminating in our Blueprint for Action on Mental Health. The team also developed multiple submissions to various Senate inquiries, provided comprehensive coverage of the Federal Budget and continued the critical work of the NDIS Capacity Building Project. In a difficult political environment, I am confident that the Government is well aware of our views on a range of important issues.
After several years of hard work we finalised our move to become a Company Limited by Guarantee, coinciding with the introduction of a new name and brand by our Communications team. In addition, the Communications team significantly expanded our communication channels and reach with the introduction of a bi-monthly online magazine, Perspectives, along with a Weekly Media Summary for members. Our engagement with members and stakeholders through Twitter and Facebook grew significantly throughout the year with a huge spike in interest during our very successful World Mental Health Day campaign in October.
Our Consumer and Carer team continued to advance the voices of lived experience through many avenues including work with the National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum, the National Register and the first year of the National Mental Health Leaders Project. Work also continued on the establishment of a National Mental Health Consumer Peak organisation culminating in the endorsement of the future organisation’s constitution at the December Board meeting of Mental Health Australia. We try very hard to ensure all our work is informed and enriched by this work and I am grateful for all the assistance that we are given pursuing this goal.
While all this is happening, our Admin and Finance teams were able to keep us all on track and their commitment was recognised through the achievement of unqualified audited financial statements. We have also worked hard to develop a Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan this year and look forward to launching the Plan at our upcoming Advocacy Day in February.
There is still a huge amount of work to be done and 2015 will no doubt provide us with many challenges and opportunities, but today I am very proud of what we achieved this year, representing your views and aspirations, and helping to build a sector that is strong and vibrant.
You may have seen the media coverage this week of the results of our Continuity of Funding survey. The survey results were worse than we anticipated with 73% of respondents saying that they would be forced to reduce local options for consumers, 40% reporting they have already lost staff and an alarming 91% confirming that if their funding future is not confirmed in the short term they would have to reduce staffing numbers further. You can read our media release about the survey here.
The story was also covered by various media outlets:
For a summary of the survey results please click on the button below. We will continue to call for funding certainty over the coming weeks and it will be a major focus for our upcoming Parliamentary Advocacy Day on 11 February where our members and friends will be meeting directly with politicians from all parties to discuss key issues facing the sector.
The Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA) has commenced the development of a new classification for mental health – the Australian Mental Health Care Classification. Mental Health Australia has been contracted by the IHPA to help engage the community mental health sector in the development of the classification.
The classification system was originally intended for the implementation of activity based funding (ABF) in public hospitals, as agreed through the National Health Reform Agreement 2011.
In the 2014 Budget the Federal government indicated its intention to move to revised public hospital funding arrangements effective from 1 July 2017. Growth funding based on ABF will not proceed and future funding from 2017-18 will now be linked to the Consumer Price Index and population growth. ABF will now only continue at the discretion of individual states and territories.
IHPA will however continue to build a nationally consistent framework to support an ABF model, including classifications, costing and pricing and data collection. This work will progress with jurisdictions acknowledging the merit of a nationally consistent approach.
IHPA’s first consultation on the classification framework will commence in the second week of January 2015. We will be providing members with background information, details and guidance on how to make a submission to IPHA via our website. We will also be calling on interested individuals to form a ‘community of thought leaders’ who can respond to technical issues from a community mental health perspective. Stay tuned for more details.
On Tuesday Josh Fear and I met with officials from the NDIA, various government and non-government representatives for the first meeting of the NDIA Mental Health Sector Reference Group. The group has been established by Eddie Bartnik to advise him on issues affecting the NDIS roll-out and planning. We will feed in the input that we receive through our various NDIS working groups and projects. The Reference group will produce a communique after each meeting, and I will circulate these communiques as they become available.
We were also pleased to meet with our friends from the National Rural Health Alliance on Wednesday. There are many issues of joint interest and we are seeking ways to collaborate even more closely on rural mental health issues - especially in the lead up to the 2015 Budget.
National minimum dataset for suicide death data
On Wednesday Director of Policy and Projects, Josh Fear, attended Suicide Prevention Australia’s workshop on developing a national minimum dataset for suicide death data. The need for a nationally consistent approach which delivers accurate data on suicides – and in particular distinguishes between intentional and accidental deaths wherever possible – appears to be acknowledged by all governments across the police, coroners and health arenas. We commend SPA for bringing people together to advance this important work.
Community Mental Health Australia
On Thursday we met with Community Mental Health Australia. As you will have seen from the media related to the survey (above) Community Mental Health Australia and its members featured prominently - expressing concerns on behalf of community managed mental health organisations, who are disproportionately affected by the current uncertainty. We are always seeking to build our collaboration and see particular potential in coordinating our efforts to influence state/territory governments at the same time as we are influencing Commonwealth Government with a view to achieving better outcomes though the combined COAG processes that affect us all.
Universal Periodic Review
Australia’s human rights record is scheduled to be reviewed under the UN’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process in 2015. As part of this process, Mental Health Australia has been asked to provide input on behalf of the mental health sector to the NGO Shadow Report. If you would like to contribute, please contact Emily Clay, Manager Policy and Projects. Further information about the UPR is available from the website.
Federation White Paper Issues Paper released
The Commonwealth Government has released two Issues Papers as part of its Federation White Paper process. The two Issues Papers are on Roles and Responsibilities in Health and Housing and Homelessness. We were delighted to see that the Health paper includes some important reflections on mental health issues - I implore you to have a look and to consider your response. There will be more to come on this over the coming months but to download the Issues Papers please visit the website.
Primary Health Networks
Funding processes are now open for the operation of Primary Health Networks, the replacement structures for Medicare Locals. Applications are due by 2pm on 27 January 2015. Further information is available from the website.
Eating Disorders 101
The National Eating Disorders Collaboration, an Australian Government initiative managed by The Butterfly Foundation, has launched a new video “Eating Disorders 101”. This ninety second animated video highlights some core facts about eating disorders, dispels misconceptions and encourages help seeking. This video has been developed for use online, particularly through social media, to target the general public. It is hoped that in reaching a broad audience we will encourage interaction with evidence-based information on the NEDC website and contribute to the improvement of eating disorders awareness and understanding in Australia.
Men’s Social Connectedness Report
A report released this week that was funded by beyondblue with donations from the Movember Foundation has revealed the extent of loneliness and disconnection among men in their middle years. The Men’s Social Connectedness Report found that as men turn 30 and their social lives start declining, so too do their levels of social support. As a result, of the 4.5 million Australian men aged between 30 and 65, just four in 10 are satisfied with how much they feel like a member of the community and less than two-thirds are satisfied with the quality of their relationships. Similarly, one in four, or 1.1 million men, have few or no social connections. For more information or to download the entire report please visit the website.
Lessons for Life report
People who have attempted suicide reported being discharged too early or having difficulty being admitted to hospitals, in a study by national mental health charity SANE Australia and the University of New England. Although finding appropriate professional support was sometimes convoluted and frustrating, participants in the study said developing a positive and empathetic relationship with a health professional was a key factor in their recovery. The stigma surrounding suicide is still a factor for participants, as 80 per cent described their experience in hospital as negative and nearly one-third felt that they were not taken seriously or were misunderstood. To download the full report please visit the website.
Working with veterans with mental health problems - program launch
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) launched its gplearning activity Working with veterans with mental health problems in Melbourne this week. For many Australian Defence Force (ADF) veterans, military service provides a strong sense of purpose, meaning and identity but it can also mean exposure to traumatic events and other occupational stresses that lead to the development of mental health, relationship and family problems. The program aims to help GPs provide veterans with quality care and assist with recovery, but they must understand the unique experiences of veterans. For more details on the program please visit the website.
NDS State of the Disability Sector Report
National Disability Services this week launched their first State of the Disability Sector Report. The report includes: a business confidence index for the disability sector, the first in-depth measurement of how disability service providers are faring during this period of major reform; an analysis of the challenges of implementing the NDIS around Australia; and a broad review of disability policy and trends. The full report can be downloaded via the link below.
Children’s Rights Report 2014
National Children’s Commissioner Megan Mitchell, this week launched the second national report on the rights of children and young people, and released public submissions from her investigation into child self-harm and suicide. The report also discusses the progress of the recommendations made in the Children’s Rights Report 2013. The substantive part of the report focuses on the findings of the examination into intentional self-harm, with or without suicidal intent, in children and young people under 18 years of age. The full report can be downloaded from the website.
Connecting Mental Health Change Makers
You may remember from recent update an article on a fantastic new grassroots campaign that aims to create a supportive and interactive online community of change makers in the mental health landscape. The Walking Feat project will provide education modules about how to reduce stigma, public speaking skills, how to put on awareness events, and self-care strategies. The organisers were aiming to raise $5000 in 30 days and I’m thrilled to note that the current donations have just topped the $8000 mark. They are now in reach of a new target of $10,000 so I would encourage you to visit the website and consider donating to this great cause.
Ever thought about becoming a part owner in a banking service?
Our friends at Community 21 have launched a limited time Share Offer inviting not-for-profits to become part of one of Australia’s most longstanding and innovative community owned ventures. Over a decade ago Community 21 and Bendigo Bank teamed up to joint venture in Community Sector Banking, the specialist in banking for not-for-profits. Now Community Sector Banking is investing in new strategies and plans to assist the not-for-profit sector, including developing a platform that combines crowdfunding and banking products, and new impact investment vehicles.
The offer aims raise the capital needed to resource these plans, and help generate new income streams for Australian not-for-profits and their work. Visit the website today to download a prospectus and see whether the Offer is right for you.
New CEO for Disability Employment Australia
Our friends at Disability Employment Australia this week welcomed a new CEO, Rick Kane. Rick will be familiar to many of you having worked in the sector for the past 18 years. In his Policy and Public Affairs role at WISE Employment and as the Disability Employment Australia Chairperson, Rick has developed strong relationships with the Minister’s office, government departments, disability advocacy peaks, employer peaks and stakeholders. Our congratulations to Rick on the appointment and we look forward to working with him over the coming months.
Have a safe and happy Christmas and New Year!
Chief Executive Officer