CEO Update - 23 October

 CEO Update, Mental Health AustraliaAnnual Report 2014-15

This Week

Mental As fundraising

You may have seen the Society for Mental Health Research (SMHR) this week announced that over $365,000 was raised via generous donations from the public during this year’s ABC Mental As campaign, congratulations to all involved and thank you for your support of this important campaign.
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What a Mental Health Month!

It’s been a huge month across the whole sector, and Mental Health Australia has had some big events this week with our AGM, Grace Groom Memorial Oration and Members Policy Forum - including a visit from Minister for Health Sussan Ley.

Annual General Meeting

Our AGM on Wednesday was a success, with members receiving a copy of our 2014-15 Annual Report which can also be found on the website via the link below.

In addition, the elections saw a change in our Board, with the Butterfly Foundation’s Christine Morgan Elected to the Board for the first time.  This change also saw Professor Lyn Littlefield from the Australian Psychological Society end her time on the Board.

Lyn has been on our Board for almost a decade, most recently serving as our Deputy Chair and the head of our Governance Committee. Speaking at the AGM our Chair, Jennifer Westacott, praised Lyn’s exceptional contribution to the Board, and to the cause of mental health reform more broadly.  In particular, Jennifer noted Lyn’s very active role as Deputy Chair during a difficult period of reform, and a time of significant transition for Mental Health Australia.  I add my thanks to Jennifer’s, being grateful for the generous support and advice that Lyn has provided to me, and to CEOs before me.

The very warm applause Lyn received from the meeting confirmed that I speak on behalf of everyone many when I say how grateful we are for Lyn’s contribution over the years.

The Mental Health Australia Board is:

  • Jennifer Westacott - Chair
  • Arthur Papakotsias
  • Patrick Hardwick
  • Clare Guilfoyle
  • Caroline Johnson
  • Christine Morgan
  • Alison Xamon
  • Robyn Kruk
  • Jono Nicholas
  • Geoff Harris
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Grace Groom Memorial Oration

This year’s Grace Groom Memorial Oration was a roaring success, with an inspirational speech from recovery expert Professor Mike Slade from the UK. Mike captivated the 150 strong audience at the National Press Club in Canberra with his charming and personal account of working in the mental health system in the UK, and his passion to empower consumers to be placed at the forefront of their own recovery journey. His speech can be downloaded via the link below. Thank you again to our friends from MI Fellowship for their assistance in bringing Professor Slade to Australia.

In addition, the event was attended by four members of the Groom family and we were honoured to provide an opportunity for Grace’s son to join us on stage and present the inaugural Grace Groom Memorial Scholarship. This year, PHD student Kathina Ali was the recipient of the $5,000 prize. Congratulations Kathina.

We hope to get a recording of the event online soon, and will keep you posted. 
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Members Policy Forum

Yesterday also saw our bi-annual Members Policy Forum held at Parliament House in Canberra. During this event our members heard from all sides of politics and had the opportunity for frank and open discussion with politicians in a closed environment.

Specifically, members heard from Jan McLucus and Katy Gallagher from the ALP, Senator Janet Rice from the Australian Greens, and Health Minister the Hon Sussan Ley from the Government. Each MP and Senator outlined their party’s approach to mental health reform with a focus on the National Mental Health Commission’s Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services.

Importantly, Minister Ley renewed her commitment to making announcements on reform before the end of the year - with every indication that she was preparing for significant reforms.

We also launched a new report on Contracting and Commissioning and held a significant discussion with Nick Chiam from the National Disability Insurance Agency. We were also heartened to see many members using the opportunity of being at Parliament House during a sitting week to undertake some of their Distributed Advocacy Day meetings. A busy day all round.

Minister for Social Services

Following the MPF I was invited to a small stakeholder dinner with the Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter, and I will meet with him again this afternoon.  It is encouraging to see the new Minister taking an active interest in mental health issues early on, and we look forward to working together on reform issues across his wide ranging portfolio.

Recovery orientation in service delivery

On Monday Josh Fear attended an MI Fellowship event in Melbourne where Professor Mike Slade spoke about the ideas in his recent report about the tension between the notion of ‘permanency’ and a recovery orientation in service delivery. The empirical evidence about mental health and recovery: how likely, how long, what helps? was co-written with Dr Eleanor Longden and commissioned by MI Fellowship. It is available from the website.
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Catholic Social Services Australia

On Monday Josh also appeared on a panel Catholic Social Services Australia’s annual leadership forum in Canberra. The panel discussed the challenges we face at the interfaces between the NDIS and other systems – challenges that will be familiar to many readers.

NDIS Act Review Submission

The Australian Government recently engaged Ernst and Young to conduct an independent review of the legislative framework for the NDIS. To find out more about the review, click here. Mental Health Australia’s submission to the review highlights concerns regarding:

  • Access criteria, in particular the requirement that NDIS participants have an impairment that is permanent or likely to be permanent’
  • Nominee provisions, with concerns raised by carers around what they perceive to be an imbalance between the rights of participants and the rights of carers in making decisions about NDIS-funded services
  • Governance arrangements, which to date have not facilitated systematic engagement with consumers, carers or providers on key aspects of scheme design or implementation. 

To download the full submission please click on the link below.
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Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (MHiMA) Project

As advised in my previous update, Mental Health Australia has been engaged by the Department of Health to manage the MHiMA Project. I met with the MHiMA National Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Consumer and Carer Working Group (NCCCWG) on Tuesday 21 October. This was a very helpful and productive meeting, and I look forward to speaking further with the NCCCWG to inform the future of the Project. The engagement with the NCCWG will be an ongoing process as Mental Health Australia works to develop recommendations on the future of the MHiMA Project.

Mental Health Australia will be holding a meeting in Canberra on 26 October with the consortium members who were involved in delivering the MHiMA Project up until 20 June 2015, along with representatives of the MHiMA National Project Coordination Unit and the NCCCWG. This meeting will be an opportunity for Mental Health Australia and those involved previously in delivering elements of the MHiMA Project to discuss what has been achieved to date and our role in managing the project. 
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Developing a practical guide for working with carers of people with a mental illness 

Families and friends play vital roles in supporting people with serious mental illness.  Carers often face unique challenges in their caring role, including navigating the mental health system and dealing with issues of grief and loss.

A consortium of five organisations – Mind AustraliaHelpingMinds (formerly Arafmi WA), Private Mental Health Consumer Carer Network (Australia)Mental Health Carers Arafmi Australia and Mental Health Australia – is overseeing the development of the Practical Guide for Working in a Partnership Manner with Carers of People with a Mental Illness.  Funding for this work has been provided by Mind Australia and HelpingMinds.

The guide will assist mental health providers to work with carers in a meaningful, mutually beneficial way using a partnership approach, to enhance outcomes for consumers and support carers and families in their caring role.

The primary purpose of this project is to enhance practice in engaging, supporting and working with carers in all areas of mental health care and influence organisational policies, procedures, protocols.

The Guidelines Development Committee has met several times this year. Stakeholder consultations have recently taken place across the country and have contributed greatly to the development of the guide.

We look forward to a launch of the guide in the first half of 2016.



NDIS Evaluation

The National Institute of Labour Studies at Flinders University is currently conducting an evaluation of the NDIS trial and the evaluation team is seeking to speak with people with disability who are not in the NDIS. They may either have chosen not to join the scheme, although they know or believe themselves to be eligible, or their NDIS access request may have been turned down. The team would very much like to hear from these people and learn of their experiences. At this stage, they are planning to conduct focus groups in each of the trial sites. If you would like more information about the evaluation or the focus groups please visit the website.
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NMHCO Establishment Project 

A reminder that materials developed through the National Mental Health Consumer Organisation Establishment Project are now available online. The materials include draft governance and operational documents, including a constitution and corporate governance manual, which could support the establishment of an independent national mental health consumer organisation.
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TheMHS Summer Forum 

Early bird 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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Helping someone with gambling problems

Gambling is an enjoyable recreational pursuit for many people. However, for some it can lead to significant harms. Mental Health First Aid Australia and Melbourne University used the Delphi expert consensus method to develop guidelines for how a concerned family member, friend or member of the public can recognise the signs of gambling problems and support a person to change their gambling.

These guidelines are now available via the link below.

Mental Health First Aid Australia and Turning Point are also conducting an evaluation of the usefulness of these guidelines when downloaded. We would like to get the word out about these guidelines. If you can help us with this, or if you would like more information, please contact: Kathy Bond, Research Officer,
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Helping someone with mental health problems and financial difficulties

Mental health problems and financial difficulties often go hand-in-hand. However, mental health professionals are not necessarily trained in how to assist their clients with financial difficulties. These guidelines for mental health professionals, ‘Helping someone with mental health problems and financial difficulties’, outline what mental health professionals need to know and do to support clients with financial difficulties. These guidelines are based on the expert opinions of panels of Australian financial counsellors, financial institution staff, mental health consumers and carers. The guidelines are available from the Mental Health First Aid Australia website.
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Royal Commission issues paper - advocacy and support and therapeutic treatment services

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is calling for submissions from interested parties on issues relating to advocacy and support and therapeutic treatment services. Advocacy and support and therapeutic treatment encompass a range of services survivors need to address the impact of child sexual abuse and trauma and help them to heal and lead a fulfilling and meaningful life. Full details are available from the website.
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Calling all data collectors and researchers in Australia!

Our friends at the National LGBTI Health Alliance are very excited to announce Australia’s first national survey of Australian data collection and research practices on the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex (‘LGBTI’) populations and sexuality, gender, and bodily specific populations beyond these labels. To find out more about the survey and how you can get involved please visit the website.
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Funding grants for the development of emerging and accomplished women leaders

From July 1 2015 the initiative will provide women in the healthcare sector with grants for leadership development. More specifically, grant applications are open to women employed in the healthcare sector at two levels. Please click on the preferred program link for details.

To request a Scholarship Grant Application Form or additional information please download the expression of interest form from the website.
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Warm regards,

Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer


Mental Health Begins with Me!


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