CEO Update - 21 August

 CEO Update, Mental Health AustraliaCountdown to Reform

This Week

NDIA Mental Health Sector Reference Group Meeting

Josh Fear and I began the week attending the NDIA Mental Health Sector Reference Group to provide feedback and input into that group’s response to the National Mental Health Commission’s Review.  We were invited to present the concerns and issues raised at our recent Extraordinary Members Policy Forum, and along with a summary of the meeting the Department agreed to present the papers we prepared directly to the Expert Reference Group. 

Disability Employment Conference

While in Sydney I was pleased to be part of a panel discussion at the Disability Employment Conference discussing disability employment services and the NDIS.  I spoke about the welcome shift to individual choice and control and the challenges that will bring to services structured around traditional grants.  I also spoke about the interface between NDIS and ongoing, non-NDIS services rather than thinking about the Scheme as a universal solution to everything.

Investment Logic Workshop

Still in Sydney I attended a workshop hosted by the National Mental Health Commission that developed an investment logic map - a simple tool to help prosecute the case for complex reform with government.  We acknowledged that while different parts of the sector have different perspectives and even different interests in the space, there is enormous agreement about both the need for reform, and the fundamental directions of reform as laid out in the National Mental Health Commission’s report.  This provides a strong rational for shared efforts to advance the case for reform.  We will continue to work together to hone agreed messages and priorities for reform. 

NDIA CEO’s Forum

Later in the week, in Melbourne, I attended a CEO briefing on the NDIS hosted by NDIA CEO David Bowen and NDIA Chairman Bruce Bonyhady. The forum provides an excellent opportunity for a very direct exchange of views on issues of concern.  At the meeting, the NDIA presented an emerging framework for planning support within the NDIS.  In essence, they have developed a system that would see the application of a “First Plan” for NDIS participants on a priority basis as people enter the NDIS - but a plan that included spending on “planning support” so the processes of developing longer term, more complex subsequent plans are developed with an appropriate level of support.  We will seek your views on this framework as more information comes to hand and can be circulated.  Keep your eye on the NDIS updates for more details. 

Primary Healthcare Advisory Group

On Monday, Daniel Casey from our Policy Team attended a meeting with members of the Primary Health Care Advisory Group, to discuss how to improve the primary care system. The Group’s discussion paper highlights four areas, including:

  • effective and appropriate patient care, including the possibility of ‘enrolment’ and a ‘medical homes’ model to try and improve co-ordination and team-based care;
  • increased use of technology, including e-health records and services like e-mental health;
  • how do we know we are achieving outcomes, including improved data collection and performance reporting;
  • payment mechanisms to support the primary healthcare system.

Submissions on the discussion paper are open until Thursday 3 September. More information is available from the website.
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What gets measured gets funded

On Thursday Louise O’Donnell from the Policy Team attended the launch by the Minster for Social Services, Scott Morrison MP, of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s 12th biennial welfare report, Australia’s Welfare 2015. The report addresses mental health primarily on pages 312-318.

The report recognises there are significant data gaps that affect the ability to report on the diversity of health and welfare services that may be accessed by an individual with a mental illness, across both the private and public sectors. In addition to this data deficiency there is an absence of a mental health data item (a ‘flag’) in many health and welfare data collections, at both national and jurisdictional levels, which limits the ability to report on the number of Australians with mental illness accessing services over time.  It is also of concern that the National Survey of Mental Health & Wellbeing (NSMHWB) for adults 16-85yrs has not been updated since 2007. The report notes major prevalence surveys such as this are now becoming dated and cost effective methods of ensuring regular and up to date information about mental illness prevalence and trends is warranted. 
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Willing to Work Inquiry

This week, our Director of Communications Chris Wagner travelled to Sydney to meet with the Human Rights Commission to discuss their National Inquiry into practices, attitudes and Commonwealth laws that deny or diminish equal participation in employment of older Australians and Australians with disability. Here is a link to the Terms of Reference.

We are particularly interested in this Inquiry and I have been appointed to their reference panel. We will be looking for ways for our members, and individual consumer and carers, to have input into this work over the coming months.

In the meantime, the Commission is looking for people to participate in group consultations between July and November 2015. They are also calling for submissions. For detailed information about the Inquiry including information on how to make a written submission please visit the Commission’s website

While in Sydney, Chris also met with Southern Cross Austereo to discuss a special program they are airing at the end of September. The radio network will be broadcasting a three hour program dedicated to mental health, and is looking to provide meaningful and interesting content. Mental Health Australia is working to connect Austereo with the sector. More information on this one to come.

In addition, Chris was joined by Josh Fear to meet with rural and regional producers at the ABC ahead of this year’s Mental As campaign. The meeting also included the National Rural Health Alliance and mental health legend Leanne Craze, the group explored ways for the Mental As campaign to feature stories and experiences from people with a lived experience of mental illness who live ‘in the bush’.


Parliamentary news

Senate Hearings on Mental Health

The Senate Select Committee on Health is running a series of public hearings on mental health over the next few weeks. On Wednesday 26 August, the Committee will hear from Mental Health Australia along with groups like the APSMental Illness Fellowship of AustraliaBlack Dog InstituteBrain and Mind InstituteSANEAnglicare and the Salvation Army. There will be further hearings in Sydney on 28 August and Brisbane on 18 September, that are also expected to focus on mental health. 
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Victorian 10 Year Mental Health Strategy

The Victorian government has opened a consultation process asking for insights and ideas to develop a new 10 year mental health strategy. The Victorian Minister for Mental Health Mr Martin Foley MP has encouraged all Victorians to take part in the online consultation. You can do so by heading to the website and downloading the discussion paper and/or posting a comment.
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Coalition Government offers jobs support for young people with mental illness

The Coalition Government will invest $1 million in a new initiative to help young people with mental illness find jobs. The Coalition Government is committed to improving social and economic outcomes for young people with mental illness. The one-year DES Youth Mental Health trial involves up to 200 Disability Employment Services (DES) participants with mental illness aged 24 or under. The trial will take a new highly participant-directed, early investment approach to job seeking. Young people with mental illness will work closely with a DES service provider to discuss their career goals and how best to meet them.
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Latest NDIS Quarterly Update Released

The quarterly report for April-June 2015 was released earlier this week. There are now 17,300 participants in the NDIS who have support plans in place, and $952 million has been committed to people with disability. This represents 94 per cent of the bilateral agreements with the jurisdictions, which is up from 85 per cent since the last quarterly report. The cost of average packages, excluding residents in large institutions, is $33,597. This is lower than the last quarterly average of $34,907 and remains below the expected full scheme average of $36,750. Visit the website to download the full update.
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Consultation opportunity: Practical guide for working with carers of people with a mental illness

As advised in a previous update, Mental Health Australia has joined a consortium that is undertaking a project to provide practical assistance to Australian providers of mental health care who work with carers of people with a mental illness. The aim of the project is to provide guidance to assist mental health providers work with carers in a meaningful, mutually beneficial way using a partnership approach which will enhance outcomes for consumers and support carers and families in their caring role. Consultations are currently taking place around the country and there is an opportunity for people attending next week’s TheMHS conference to get involved. If you are interested in finding out more about this project or participating in the consultation process please email the Project Officer Judy Hardy.
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Paper Released: Impact of the National Disability Insurance Scheme on Mental Health Services in Barwon

In September 2014, the then Department of Health funded the Psychiatric Disability Services of Victoria (VICSERV) to support transition of Barwon area mental health community support services to the NDIS through monitoring outcomes. VICSERV has released several papers resulting from this work, explaining the impact of the introduction of the NDIS on provision of mental health services in the Barwon region to enable the Victorian Government and stakeholders to understand the implications of full scheme roll out on the Victorian mental health service system.

To read about the project and download the papers, please visit the VICSERV website.
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Funding Application Period Open for National Disability Conference Initiative 2015-16

The Australian Government is inviting conference organisers across Australia to apply for funding under the National Disability Conference Initiative for the period 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016. The Initiative aims to assist conference organisers to maximise the inclusion and participation of people with disability at nationally focused disability-related conferences in Australia.  For more information, please visit the Department of Social Services website.
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Victorian Independent Mental Health Advocacy Programme starts 31 August

As previously reported, Victorian Legal Aid is establishing a new independent mental health advocacy programme. The new service will be supporting people who are subject to compulsory treatment to have as much say as possible over their assessment, treatment and recovery. The new service commences on Monday 31 August, with 10 advocates on board, including Liz Carr, who was previously acting director at VMIAC. More details are available from the website.
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Call for experts to help develop guidelines when providing mental health first aid to employees and co-workers

Researchers from the University of MelbourneDeakin University and University of Tasmania in partnership with Mental Health First Aid Australia are seeking individuals to act as expert panel members for a research project to develop guidelines for workplaces providing mental health first aid for employees. The total time commitment for this project is estimated to be approximately 2-3 hours. You are not required to attend any meeting, as all contact will be via the internet, or if you prefer, by paper mail. 

Once developed, these guidelines will provide guidance for workplaces on giving appropriate support to an employee who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. For full details please visit the website.
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Breakfast with Jessica Rowe

Mental Health Australia Patron Jessica Rowe is launching her new memoir ‘Is This My Beautiful Life?’ at Boffins Bookshop in Perth on 31 August. Jessica will be talking in conversation with Associate Professor Caroline Zanetti, a perinatal, child and infant psychiatrist about her battle with post-natal depression and how she rediscovered her ‘sparkle’. Tickets are limited so visit the website for full details.
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Caring for Country Kids conference - abstracts open

Children’s Healthcare Australasia (CHA) and the National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) are joining forces to host a national Conference on quality healthcare for children and young people living in rural, regional and remote communities across Australia.  This unique Conference will showcase innovations, models, programs and activities that enhance the health and wellbeing of infants, children and young people in rural and remote Australia. The conference will be held in April 2016 and abstracts are now open. If you would like more information please visit the website.
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National Disability Awards - nominations open

Applications are now open for the 2015 National Disability Awards. Now in their ninth year, the Awards help build awareness of disability issues and showcase important work throughout the community, enabling people to fully participate in work and society. Nominations close on 4 September, full details are available from the website.
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  Warm regards,
Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer     Mental Health Begins with Me!


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