CEO Update - 14 November
I write this update today from Melbourne where I have been part of the international H20 gathering, convened by the Australian Medical Association and the the World Medical Association. I was delighted to hear the heads of the World Medical Association and the International Committee of the Red Cross and many other speakers talking about mental health and psychosocial support. I tried to remind delegates that our prime focus should be on the outcomes that consumers and carers identify as being the key to a “contributing life”. The H20 provides an opportunity to put these issues on the agenda ahead of the G20 Conference.
This week I also met with officials to discuss the Federation Whitepaper process. We understand that a Health Issues Paper will be released as part of this process, perhaps some time before Christmas, and we are eager to ensure that mental health is considered as part of the discussions. Mental health remains at the cusp of Commonwealth and State and Territory government responsibilities and it is our hope that the Federation Whitepaper process, which will examine state and Commonwealth relationships, will provide an important opportunity to overcome some of the challenges that we have faced in supporting mental health services and programs.
Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol Principal Committee
This committee sees senior officers from each state and territory, along with the Commonwealth, come together to plan and coordinate government action on mental health and alcohol and drug issues. It is a COAG committee that is the successor to the Mental Health Standing Committee, upon which Mental Health Australia was previously a member. I was pleased to have the chance to update the members of the Committee on our submisssions to the National Mental Health Commission including our Blueprint for Action on Mental Health, and to ask them about the status of the National Mental Health Service Planning Framework. It was also good to hear Executive members of the National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum present the achievements of the group and make such a strong case for the ongoing work of the Forum directly to the officials likely to determine their future funding!
Survey - Continuity of Funding
As you all know, at the end of this month the National Mental Health Commission will hand its final report to government on the Review of Mental Health Services and Programmes. Much is tied up with this Review, including the Commonwealth funding allocated to the mental health sector. Anecdotally this is already causing anxiety for many of us as the lack of clarity on the future of our funding remains unclear. We are keen to quantify this by seeking the direct input from mental health organisations on the potential impact of this uncertainty.
To achieve this, we have created a survey to explore the issues you face in the next financial year. We urge all mental health related organisations to complete this quick survey and help build a picture of the impact funding uncertainty will have on the services and programs you deliver. The survey will be open until Wednesday 26 November and the results will be used to advocate directly to government for clarity on this matter within a fair and acceptable timeframe. If you can send the survey on to others who might be in a position to complete it that would be of great assistance.
Safety and Quality Partnership Standing Committee
Kathryn Sequoia from our Consumer and Carer Team is attending the Safety and Quality Partnership Standing Committee (SQPSC) meeting in Sydney today. Issues being discussed include the physical health and wellbeing of people with a lived experience of mental illness, seclusion and restraint, national standards in mental health, reducing adverse medication events, suicide and deliberate self-harm in mental health services and recovery oriented care.
On Monday our Director of Policy and Projects, Josh Fear, presented at a forum in Melbourne for Victorian service providers preparing for the transition to the NDIS funding environment. The forum was co-hosted by VICSERV, National Disability Services and Mental Health Australia; similar events have already taken place in most other states, and we hope to continue supporting initiatives to build organisational readiness through our ongoing NDIS capacity building work.
ACOSS Policy Forum
On Tuesday our Policy and Projects Manager, Emily Clay, attended the ACOSS annual policy forum in Melbourne. The opening discussion from eminent business and economic leaders emphasised the challenges of social policy that exist on both spending and revenue sides of the government ledger. Other presentations considered community sector transparency and accountability mechanisms in the USA, recent work by the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission, and principles for partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.
Social Media in Government Conference
Earlier this week our Director of Communications, Chris Wagner, chaired and presented at the Social Media in Government Conference in Melbourne, sharing his experience with the World Mental Health Day campaign. The conference explored ways to combine social media into more regular communication channels and our campaign was viewed as a good case study for this interaction.
Chris and his team are currently looking into how communications teams across the sector can better discuss and share ideas, so watch this space for more details.
National Mental Health Future Leaders Initiative
Mental Health Australia, the National Mental Health Commission, and co-sponsors Janet Meagher and Robyn Kruk support this initiative to develop consumer and carer mental health leaders. The third and final workshop for the 11 participants in the program was held in Sydney last week. The leaders group has engaged with a range of people during the year, including National Mental Health Commissioners, consumer and carer leaders, and leaders from corporations and NGOs, to discuss topics such as leadership, ethics, respectful relationships, and policy development. This workshop focused on consolidating learnings to date and discussing some new topics, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing, and communications. Participants will continue to participate in development opportunities, including leadership development plans, mentoring, and opportunities to attend national meetings and networking events. Further information about the initiative is available on the Commission’s website.
Save the Date - Members Policy Forum and Advocacy Day
Our next Members Policy Forum and Advocacy Day will be taking place on Wednesday 11 February at Parliament House in Canberra. The Forum will be earlier in the year than usual as we beleive this will be our last opportunity (during a sitting week) to influence the budget process. We will also have a dinner event on the evening before so Members are asked to save the date in your diaries. More details to follow.
Stress and Wellbeing in Australia Survey 2014
Now in its fourth year, the Australian Psychological Society Stress and Wellbeing in Australia Survey 2014 measures the stress and wellbeing levels of Australians and provides a year-on-year comparison of how they are faring. The survey aims to provide insights that will benefit the psychological and physical health of Australians. Australians are faring slightly better than last year; however, levels of wellbeing are still lower than the first survey in 2011, and stress and distress levels are higher than those reported in 2012 and 2011. Some key findings were: one in four Australians reported moderate to severe levels of distress this year; the highest levels of stress and distress were reported by young Australians (18-25 and 26-35 year age group); older Australians, aged 66 and above, continued to report significantly lower levels of stress and distress.
White Ribbon Day - 25 November
White Ribbon is the world’s largest movement of men and boys working to end men’s violence against women and girls and to promote gender equity, healthy relationships and a new vision of masculinity. White Ribbon Australia, as part of this global movement, aims to create an Australian society in which all women can live in safety, free from violence and abuse - also so important to their mental health. White Ribbon is calling on all Australians to wear a white ribbon on 25 November and show your support for ending violence against women.
Labor will fund youth mental health - Victoria
The Victorian Labor opposition will invest $60 million to completely rebuild the world’s largest international research institute for youth mental health if successful in the upcoming state election. Orygen Youth Health’s Parkville facility is at the heart of Victoria’s status as a world leader in mental health, but inside century-old buildings, walls are crumbling, roofs are rotting and experts are working out of converted garages. Opposition Leader, Daniel Andrews, joined Orygen’s Executive Director and Australian of the Year 2010, Professor Patrick McGorry AO, to secure a future for the centre and save more lives. The $60 million investment will transform the site, building a world-class facility to support the centre’s vital work and attract millions of dollars in additional research funds to Victoria.
Seeking your views - Issues paper on decision-making support in Queensland’s guardianship system
The Office of the Public Advocate this week released a call for submissions in relation to their Issues Paper on decision-making support in Queensland’s guardianship system. The Office is undertaking research into decision-making support for Queenslanders with impaired capacity, with a focus on the extent to which relevant provisions of Queensland’s guardianship legislation are translated into practice. The aim of the research is to identify the systemic enablers and barriers to protecting and supporting the right of people to make their own decisions. Submissions are due by Friday 5 December. For further details or to download the Issues Paper please visit the website.
Lived Experience Network Leadership Group applications open
Our friends at Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA) are inviting applications for the inaugural Lived Experience Network Leadership Group. The Leadership Group will work closely with SPA to understand issues, set priorities and keep the wider Lived Experience Network relevant and representative of those with lived experience across Australia. The Leadership Group has a specific role that is very strategic and about the big picture. An explanation of the role of the Leadership Group, the recruitment process and details about how to apply are now available on the SPA website.
Mental health related GP services continue to grow
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare this week released statistics showing that in 2012-13 almost 16 million GP encounters were mental health related. This number accounts for 12.3% of all GP encounters during the year, up from 11.7% in 2008-09. Depression (32%), anxiety (16%) and sleep disturbance (12%) were the 3 most frequently managed problems in 2012-13, accounting for 60% of all mental health related problems managed. Please visit the website for more details.
WA NDIS My Way trial off to a good start
An impressive number of people with disability have joined the State Government’s WA National Disability Insurance Scheme My Way trial in the Lower South West, which has now been running for 3 months. There are two NDIS trials being run in WA. In addition to the My Way trial being run in the Lower South West, the Australian Government is running a second NDIS trial in the Perth Hills area using the National Disability Insurance Agency model. The two approaches will be independently evaluated over the two-year trial period. The outcome of this evaluation will inform the future of disability services in WA and across the nation.
Victorians affected by mental illness are missing out under the NDIS trial
In other NDIS trial news, a short and important film on Geelong consumers’ and carers’ experiences of the Victorian NDIS trial and its importance as an issue which not only affects mental health, but impacts the entire community has been developed and released this week by Tandem Inc. Click the button below to view the film.
SMHR Conference - registrations now open
The SMHR 2014 Conference formerly known as ASPR Annual Conference is the principal research meeting for psychiatric and mental health research in Australia and New Zealand, attracting researchers and a wide range of clinicians including psychiatrists, psychologists, and public health professionals. The areas of research cover basic neurosciences, pharmaceutical and psychosocial clinical interventions, consumer research, translation into policy and practice, as well as health services and public health research. The Conference is being held in Adelaide from 3-5 December, visit the website for full details.
Primary Mental Health Care in the Digital Age Conference
The Australian College of Mental Health Nurses are hosting their Primary Mental Health Care in the Digital Age Conference next March. The conference will explore the impact of technology on mental health and wellbeing, and the impact on clinicians’ capacity to deliver primary mental health care. The conference is a supportive forum where clinicians can share their practice experiences with other clinicians, and have the opportunity to hear from leading experts in e-mental health including Professor Helen Christensen from the Black Dog Institute and Associate Professor Jane Burns of the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre. The call for abstracts closes today!
Chief Executive Officer