CEO Update - 13 November

 CEO Update, Mental Health Australia

This Week

Countdown to Reform

When we started the Countdown to Reform clock on our website, it had over 200 days. Now, it has less than 20. With the final day of the federal parliamentary sitting calendar fast approaching, the self-imposed deadline for the Australian Government to announce its plans for mental health reform is almost upon them.

The Minister’s recent public statement suggest that she is still intending to announce reforms to the Parliament this year. As always, we will bring you information and analysis as soon as any announcement is made. 

In addition, we will be looking particularly closely at the Government’s plans for implementation and change management, as this key component must be handled well, or reform will fail before it even begins.  We have had many plans and announcement before, the challenge that Government faces, and the challenge that we all face, is “How can we make these reforms work?”

We now stand on the brink of change and I remain optimistic about the future. Mental Health Australia will work hard to keep you all informed on developments as they happen in the coming weeks.


Parliamentary Friends of Youth Mental Health

I was pleased to be part of a Parliamentary Friends of Youth Mental Health this week.  In addition to highlighting the overall need for reform, the event showcased some of the work that has been doing in the youth space.  Young people have very specific needs, and has engaged a great group of youth leaders and peers to help develop these resources.  I’d encourage you to take a look.
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National Alcohol Strategy

The National Alcohol Strategy is currently under review and I had the chance to provide feedback and ideas to the review this week.  It was an opportunity to highlight the enormous gaps that relate to co-morbidity of mental health issues and alcohol and drug issues.  As the National Alcohol Strategy is developed with the states and territories, the links between the National Alcohol Plan and the 5th National Mental Health Plan will also be important.


Commonwealth Ombudsman

I had the opportunity to meet with the Commonwealth Ombudsman Colin Neave this week to discuss areas of common interest.  Mr Neave was certainly interested in the insurance discrimination work that we have been progressing recently, but also very keen to better understand how people with lived experience of mental illness experience Centrelink and other Commonwealth agencies.  We have agreed to look at ways to gather some of this experience, and I would be pleased to receive ideas directly about how we might best achieve this.  We will certainly be working more closely together in future.


Family and Relationship Services Australia Conference

Yesterday I spoke about the future of the NGO sector at the FRSA National Conference.  In short I talked about the game changing nature of programs like the NDIS, and the unstoppable momentum of individual choice and control that will shape programs of the future.  Services not just focussed and centred on consumer and carer need, but controlled by consumers and carers.  It will be an exciting place, but we still have a way to go to get there!

Future direction for the MHiMA Project

As noted in previous updates, Mental Health Australia is now managing the Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (MHiMA) Project until the end of June 2016. The Australian Government Department of Health has asked us to review previous project arrangements and outputs.

One of our key deliverables is to provide a report to the Department of Health containing advice and recommendations on possible future directions for the project. This report is due in March 2016. We will be working closely with the multicultural mental health and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) sector, including CALD consumers and carers, on this future direction.

In the two months since we commenced this work, we have had discussions with the National CALD Consumer and Carer Working Group (NCCCWG), the Brisbane-based National Coordination Unit, former consortium members, and other stakeholders. We have assessed activities and arrangements to date and developed a work plan focused on developing and delivering recommendations about the future of the MHiMA project to Government.

Following these consultations and our initial planning work, Mental Health Australia has determined the most appropriate and workable option is for MHiMA Project staff to be based at Mental Health Australia in Canberra. The current National Coordination Unit based in Brisbane, who have ensured continuity of key MHiMA project activities during our initial assessment phase, will continue until the end of December 2015.

Mental Health Australia will soon be recruiting for two new positions – a Project Manager and Project Officer. The two temporary positions will be for a period of approximately 6 months, to take us to the end of the current project funding (30 June 2016). We will be recruiting people with strong knowledge, understanding and experience working with people from CALD backgrounds. People from CALD backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

Mental Health Australia also plans to continue the NCCCWG Support Officer position until the end of the current MHiMA project. The Support Officer position will be a Mental Health Australia employee.

Mental Health Australia and Project staff will continue to communicate and work closely with the multicultural mental health and CALD sectors on the future of the MHiMA Project.

Some of the activities Mental Health Australia will be pursuing include:

  • Forming a Project Advisory Group with representation of all jurisdictions, CALD consumers and carers, and CALD views and expertise outside of the mental health sector.
  • Progressing a review of the Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia, including an examination of its structure, delivery and sustainability, and recommendations for future delivery and implementation.  
  • Developing a consultation document on the future of the MHiMA project, which will be made available on the Mental Health Australia and MHiMA websites throughout December 2015 and January 2016.
  • Continuing engagement with the National CALD Consumer and Carer Working Group in the Project, including seeking their views on the future of the MHiMA Project.

I thank the National Coordination Unit for their important contributions and commitment to the MHiMA Project. I would also like to thank the former MHiMA consortium members for their commitment. We look forward to working with the multicultural mental health and CALD sectors on this Project. 
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Parliamentary news

Disability Employment System - consultation

People with disability, their families, carers and employers are encouraged to provide feedback on a new discussion paper aimed at developing a National Disability Employment Framework. The Minister for Social Services, the Hon Christian Porter MP, released the discussion paper this week and announced a series of information sessions that will be held in capital cities throughout November. The consultation closes on 7 December, for a copy of the discussion paper or to find out more please visit the website.
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Release of report into roll-out of NDIS

The second progress report into the roll-out of the NDIS was tabled in parliament this week. The report identifies learnings from the early roll-out of the scheme and offers a number of recommendations on how to give the scheme the best chance of success. To download the full report please visit the website.
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Consumers Australia

A new (virtual) Australian Association of Mental Health Consumers has been launched and is calling on all Australian mental health consumers to get involved and make a difference. People who self-identify as mental health consumers or similar (eg as survivors, service users, ex-service users, voice hearers) are invited to join for free and participate in online forum discussions. More details are available from the website.
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Youth Mental Health Training

Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health is offering a range of training across Australia. During November and December Orygen will be offering three workshops facilitated by experienced clinical educators. The workshops are practical and focused on skill development. Participants can expect to develop some immediately applicable skills through this training. Full details are available from the website.
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Consumers Health Forum of Australia Seminar Series

The Consumers Health Forum of Australia is launching a new Seminar Series with an event hosted in collaboration with the National Mental Health Commission, the Department of Health and the team here at Mental Health Australia. The seminar’s theme is Physical and Mental Health: the importance of Integrated person-centred care. The seminar represents a significant opportunity for the mainstream healthcare consumer network and the mental health sector to come together and discuss how we can collectively shape policy in an area of such importance. For full details please contact Kerry Hollis.
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TheMHS Summer Forum

Registrations for the 2016 TheMHS Summer Forum are now open. In its 18th year, TheMHS Summer Forum is an annual two-day educational program that highlights a “hot” topic in mental health. 

For 2016, one of the most pressing issues in mental health is the impact on our communities of illicit drugs, such as crystal methamphetamine (ice/P). The mental health consequences of illicit drugs present new challenges for consumers, families and carers, governments and mental health services. Forum delegates will be led by experts to examine the challenges from illicit drugs to good mental health services, highlight recent research, and focus on directions for the future. For more information please visit the website.
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Expert Guidelines: Diagnosis and Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Emergency Service Workers

Emergency workers perform a vital role in our society but there is increasing realisation that this work can come at a cost. Large numbers of emergency workers report ongoing psychological consequences from exposure to trauma, most notably post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

A set of evidence-based guidelines have developed by leading Australian clinicians and researchers to identify and treat PTSD in emergency service workers. These guidelines have been endorsed by the Royal Australian and NZ College of Psychiatrists and have been designed for use by any health professional who is managing PTSD in this unique group.
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International Day Of People With Disability 

Organisations and individuals interested in marking this year’s International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) can now register their planned events. IDPwD is celebrated globally on 3 December each year and almost 1000 events were registered across Australia last year. 
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Warm regards,

Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer

Mental Health Begins with Me!



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