CEO Update - 26 September

 CEO Update, Mental Health Australia Workplace stigma survey

This Week

Royal Agricultural Society of WA - Bethlem Sanatorium Display Shut down

Out of the blue this week we were confronted with the quite extraordinary prospect that the Royal Perth Show was about to launch an exhibit that was built around a re-enactment of the infamous Bedlam asylum where people experiencing mental illness were kept in appalling circumstances, but could be viewed by paying patrons for entertainment and amusement. The Royal Perth Show was proposing to have actors play the role of people with mental illness in some kind of Dickensian Hall of Horrors. Our friends and members at West Australian Association for Mental Health and Consumers of Mental Health WA led a campaign to have the “display” shut down. Mental Health Australia wrote to the Royal Agricultural Society of WA and to all the major sponsors of the Royal Show to highlight our concerns. We also did some national media to draw attention to the event and supported the social media campaign on twitter and facebook. SANE Australia and others contributed to national and international pressure that had the desired result. The display finally abandoned its mental illness theme. Our congratulations to go to all those who contributed to this important victory. It certainly showed the power of many voices speaking together!

You can read our full letter to the President of the Royal Agricultural Society by clicking on the button below.
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New National Mental Health Commissioner announced 

Today we were pleased to welcome the appointment of Ms Nicole Gibson as a new National Mental Health Commissioner. Upon her appointment Nicole said of herself “I continue to be incredibly passionate about engaging the community in actively breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health challenges, and embracing differences. I believe first-hand experience with these challenges is incredibly important in genuinely raising these topics with community members”. Nicole fills the position left vacant when Janet Meagher finished her term as a National Mental Health Commissioner.

We look forward to working with Nicole as she takes on this important role, and as the Commission continues its work reviewing mental health in Australia ahead of its report to Government on 30th November.
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Meeting with Minister Dutton

Earlier this week Mental Health Australia Chair Jennifer Westacott and I met with Peter Dutton, Minister for Health to discuss our reform agenda. We were able to point to the substantial submissions that we have made to the Commission’s review, following feedback from our members, and to our developing work to present both the review and the Minister with a plan for action once the Commission’s review is complete.

We were able to highlight the importance of; agreeing on what we want to achieve; being clear about who is responsible for what; improving consumer and carer engagement; matching service to need; matching incentives to our desired outcomes; investing at the right time to achieve the best results; and building a system that holds all players (government and non-government) accountable for their performance.

Following the substantial input we have now received from members we intend to send members our draft plan for mental health reform early next week, to allow consideration ahead of the Members Policy Forum on 10 October.

We continue to meet with a range of parliamentarians in the hope of building momentum ahead of the Commission’s review.


Integrating Mental Health into the NDIS conference - discounted tickets available

We have recently been working with Informa conferences on its upcoming Integrating Mental Health into the NDIS conference in Sydney on 27-28 November in Sydney. Those who attended this conference last year may recall a joint statement by delegates calling on governments to address the sector’s concerns about the implications of the NDIS for mental health. It will come as no surprise that many of these concerns remain current, although we have lately seen progress on a range of fronts as the National Disability Insurance Agency’s capacity grows.

This year’s conference will include keynote presentations by David Butt, CEO of the National Mental Health Commission and Eddie Bartnik, special adviser to the NDIA. We also plan to launch Mental Health Australia’s sector needs analysis – the culmination of many months of consultation with stakeholders. More details on the conference program can be found by clicking on the button below.

Because of the importance of the topic, we have negotiated a special member-only discount with the conference organisers. Registration for the two days will be $900 for Mental Health Australia members, compared $1395 for non-members. To receive the discount, please email us at to receive a unique code for registration. I hope you can join us at this significant event.
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Law Council of Australia Conference

Director of Communications Chris Wagner spoke at the Law Council of Australia conference today, on social media in the not for profit space. Using tips and tricks from the World Mental Health Day campaign, Chris outlined the strategy and policy implications for advocacy bodies when using social media, including the rights and responsibilities of staff and employers.


World Mental Health Day - have you made a promise?

We have been inundated with requests for World Mental Health Day promotional materials to support events and activities right across the country over the past couple of weeks, thank you to all for your support. If you are interested in receiving any materials you will need to get in quick and place your order. More information about the Mental Health Begins with Me! campaign will be sent out in the coming weeks.

People are continuing to share their mental health promises online, you can see one from the Sydney Swans at the bottom of this email! Our promise wall is looking fantastic with so many inspirational promises, you can see them all here

Have you made your promise yet? Don’t stop at just one, and don’t forget to share it with friends and colleagues.
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National Mental Health Consumer Peak Organisation Project - Consumer Reference Group Monthly Update

The latest Consumer Reference Group update has been written by Emily Trodorov and provides an inspirational personal insight into the important role the new national mental health consumer peak will have in reducing stigma. To read Emily’s full update please click on the button below.

If you are interested in keeping up to date with the project please also follow the project’s Facebook page.
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Voting for Board Directors now open

Full members are reminded that voting for Mental Health Australia’s Board Directors is now open. Members should have received instructions on how to participate in the online voting process, if you haven’t please contact Returning Officer Melanie Cantwell via email or on 02 6285 3100.

Voting is open until Sunday 5 October, I would strongly encourage you to vote early and make sure your voice is heard. 


Perspectives - October edition

We are starting work on the next edition of Perspectives, our bi-monthly electronic magazine. Mental Health Australia members are invited to contribute articles on the key issues facing their stakeholders. This is a great opportunity for members to share content with the entire sector. If you are interested in submitting an article or for more information please contact

In case you missed it, you can read the August edition of Perspectives here.
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Grace Groom Memorial Oration tickets on sale

Tickets are now on sale for the Grace Groom Memorial Oration, please click on the invitation below to register.

Register now

New staff member welcome

This week Louise O’Donnell joined our Policy and Projects Team in the role of Senior Policy Analyst. Louise joins us from the ACT Chief Minister’s Department, and her background in Commonwealth-State relations will no doubt prove very useful as we think about the implications for the mental health sector of recent developments on Activity Based Funding. Members will hear more about our work on ABF at the Members Policy Forum on 10 October. 


Parliamentary news

NSW - Mental health nurse honoured through mentorship program

Minister for Mental Health Jai Rowell has commended mental health nurses from across NSW who have been selected to participate in a prestigious mentorship program set up to honour the memory of Orange Mental Health nurse and Australian Bravery Award recipient, Bob Fenwick. Mr Fenwick was a well-respected mental health nurse who tragically died as a result of a work-related incident in 2011. The Bob Fenwick Memorial Mentoring Grants Program was established by the NSW Government in recognition of his passionate support for mental health nursing and the assistance he offered to more junior staff. Calls for expressions of interest for the next round of the program will open in January 2015, full details are available on the website.
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WA - Mentally impaired accused paper released

A discussion paper on the operation of the Criminal Law (Mentally Impaired Accused) Act 1996 (CLMIA Act) was released this week for public comment in WA. Attorney General Michael Mischin said the review of the Act had been a comprehensive process aimed at reforming the way the justice system dealt with accused people who were mentally impaired. Issues under consideration include whether the courts should have more options in dealing with mentally impaired accused; whether greater consideration should be given to victims of crime; and whether the criteria for determining if a person was mentally unfit to stand trial should be amended. Full details can be found on the website.
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Odd Socks Day - Friday 3 October

Following on from last year’s success, our friends at Grow will once again lead a national mental health anti-stigma campaign ‘Odd socks day…because anyone can have an odd day.’ Their hope is to appeal to Australians through a light-hearted campaign that highlights the prevalence of mental illness and how each person’s actions can make a big difference to the recovery of others. Organisations or individuals can register at or join the Facebook campaign.  All donations received will be used to further strengthen the campaign against stigma.

On October 3rd, don a pair of odd socks, and proudly help to stomp out stigma.
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Record number of GPs set to attend national conference

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners’ (RACGP) GP14 conference has already broken registration records with two weeks until the conference begins in Adelaide. Over 1,000 Australian GPs will converge on the Adelaide Convention Centre from 9-11 October to attend GP14 - the premier event on the general practice calendar. This year’s theme ‘Lead. Inspire.’ will reflect the role of GPs as leaders in providing healthcare to the community and their role of inspiring a healthy Australia. Full details are available on the website.

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TheMHS Summer Forum - ‘Men’s Mental Health: Building a Healthier Future’

TheMHS Summer Forum is an annual two day educational program held in Sydney that examines the obstacles to good mental health services, highlights recent research, sets out the challenges, and focuses on policies, programs and directions for the future. TheMHS Summer Forum 2015 will bring together men and women from all walks of life to discuss new thinking, latest research, and innovative programs for improving men’s mental health. It will ask us to reflect, to listen and to work together for a healthier future for men. Improving men’s mental health is everyone’s business. The Forum will run on February 19 and 20, for further details please visit the website.
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Social Determinants of Health Alliance - Inaugural Anti-Poverty Week Oration

The Social Determinants of Health Alliance are holding an Inaugural Anti-Poverty Week Oration in Canberra on 14 October. The oration will be delivered by Professor Julian Disney, the National Chair of Anti-Poverty Week. Professor Disney has previously been Coordinator of the Sydney Welfare Rights Centre, President of the NSW Council of Social Service and the Australian Council of Social Service. In this inaugural oration, Professor Disney will highlight the relationship between poverty and ill-health. Numbers are limited so for registration details please visit the website.
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WISE Stand Up for Mental Health comedy event - tickets on sale

Tickets are now on sale for WISE Stand Up for Mental Health, a unique stand-up comedy event featuring a group of budding comedians who will make their stage debut. The event is hosted by award-winning Canadian comedian David Granirer and features a guest appearance by Australian comedian Steve Bedwell. The event will be held at Sydney Town Hall on Thursday 30 October. Book your tickets now from Ticketmaster. 
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4th National Borderline Personality Disorder Conference

The Australian BPD Foundation invites you to the 4th National Borderline Personality Disorder Conference, being held in Melbourne on Thursday 2 October. The organisers are anticipating a very lively, positive and productive day. An excellent line-up of international and national speakers will present keynote addresses and workshops. For full details including registration information please visit the website.
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Women in Health and Ageing Leadership Summit

The Women in Health and Ageing Leadership Summit 2014 will be held on 2-3 December in Melbourne. The summit aims to provide critical strategies, solutions and practical insights for women to advance as leaders in health and aged care. Full details including the agenda and speakers are available from the website.
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Navigating the e-mental health web: An introduction to online resources for primary health care providers

All primary health care service providers are invited to participate in a free e-mental health webinar hosted by the ANU’s National Institute for Mental Health Research. Participants will be introduced to the main types of online mental health resources and ways that they can be incorporated into your services. The benefits of using e-mental health will be explained along with how to find relevant tools for your clients. Full details including registration information can be found on the website.
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DiG Festival - Mental Health Stream

The DiG Festival and Conference is loosely based on the extremely successful SXSW festivals in Austin, Texas. The Hunter Institute of Mental Health and the Young and Well CRC are partnering to develop a dynamic and interactive mental health, technology and innovation stream for the conference. This will include presentations and more from media, educators, technology partners and many of the organisations at the forefront of innovation in mental health. Our own Director of Communications Chris Wagner will be presenting as part of the ‘Embracing a digital paradigm when communicating about mental health’ stream. Full details are available on the website.
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Warm regards,

(the promise below is especially for my brother the Hawthorn supporter, Go Swans!)

Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer


Mental health begins with Me!


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