CEO Update - 28 August

 CEO Update, Mental Health AustraliaCountdown to Reform

This Week

Core funding application

This week we completed our core funding application, which we hope will provide us with core funding from the Department of Health beyond December 30th 2015 when our current funding ends.

The applications are always a team effort, but I am especially grateful to Deputy CEO Melanie Cantwell who manages all of our compliance and contracting, along with the duties of a Company Secretary. This work is not often at the front of our minds (until we need to apply for funding) but along with all the work of the finance and administration team helps to keep our ship on course.

Momentum builds for real change in mental health

On Wednesday, I gave evidence to the Senate Select Committee on Health about the National Mental Health Commission’s (NMHC) Review. I was part of a roundtable with David Meldrum, Ivan Frkovic, Malcolm Hopwood, Andrew Peters, Sebastian Rosenberg and Pam Rutledge. I emphasised that:

  • The reform process must be a true partnership between governments, consumers, carers, providers, clinicians and other experts. 
  • We must invest in strong community based mental health services outside the NDIS and, consistent with the Review’s recommendations, programmes currently in scope for the NDIS should not be cashed out yet.
  • Our members anticipate substantial risks in the proposed role of Primary Health Networks (PHNs) as the regional architecture for mental health services. There is much to be done before the mental health sector can have confidence in the central role for PHNs envisaged by the Review.

It was particularly pleasing that both the NMHC, and the broader sector, called for the new National Mental Health Plan to be signed by the Prime Minister and First Ministers, rather than health ministers alone. The Committee recognised that cross portfolio action was important to achieve a genuine whole-of-government approach.

You can read my opening statement to the Committee by clicking on the button below.

We will be continuing to call on our members and friends to build the case for our involvement in every stage of reform, and next week we will launch our direct advocacy activities, hoping you can support us as we push for a better mental health system.
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Friends of Mental Health Australia

As part of our ongoing need to sustain our activity with campaigns like ‘Countdown to Reform’, we have also created a new way for individuals to support Mental Health Australia. For a small annual fee, we are looking for people who are keen to support the work we do, and help ensure our voice can remain independent and representative of the sector as a whole.

We hope this might be appealing to many working in the mental health sector who cannot join Mental Health Australia directly - as our membership is only open to organisations.  If you are keen to join us and receive a range of interesting materials and information each week, please visit our website.
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Carer Gateway Advisory Group Meeting

Government is continuing its development of a Carer Gateway - providing information and support to carers across the country through a single online portal.  I attended the second meeting of the Advisory Group this week. The plans are ambitious, and along with other members of the advisory group I pressed the need for such developments to engage directly with carers at all stages of development.  The timetable is also ambitious, with initial expectations of content being online by December this year.  I will circulate more information as it comes to hand.  You can read about the Carer Gateway at the link below.
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Meeting with Queensland Mental Health Commissioner

I was pleased Dr Lesley van Schoubroeck, the Queensland Mental Health Commissioner was able to visit Mental Health Australia this week.  We had an opportunity to discuss the wide ranging reforms that are currently afoot, but in particular we discussed the link between the NDIS and existing and ongoing mental health systems.  Lesley is leading some work in Queensland to consider these issues for that state.

TheMHS Conference

Most of the Mental Health Australia team have had a chance to attend the 25th Annual TheMHS Conference in Canberra this week, and I hope to drop in this afternoon. Staff have participated in some fantastic sessions on a range of topics including the NDIS, supported decision making and stigma reduction. Congratulations to Alan, Vivienne and the entire team at TheMHS for organising such a wonderful event. 
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A new national classification for mental health care – how will services be described, counted and costed? 

As a part of our ongoing work with the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA) on the development of the Australian Mental Health Care Classification (AMHCC) I will be participating in a webinar on Thursday 10 September with James Downie, Acting CEO and Jennifer Nobbs, Executive Director, Activity Based Funding, IHPA.

IHPA will provide an overview of the work on the AMHCC to date, including how the classification model works, share with participants the results of a six month mental health costing study and outline further work required on the development of the classification. I will explain the relevance of IHPA’s work to different areas of the sector and address the benefits and challenges of designing a classification that represents the full spectrum of mental health care services.

This webinar will be of interest to members as IHPA is building the AMHCC to cover all mental health care services including admitted, non-admitted, community and residential, with implementation scheduled for July 2016.

I encourage members to join the conversation and take the opportunity to provide feedback to IHPA on the proposed classification model.

Please register for the webinar via the link below.
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‘Close the gap’ on life expectancy for Australians with mental illness

Australians living with mental illness – especially severe, ongoing conditions –have dramatically worse physical health that the rest of the community. SANE Australia, in partnership with Neami National, have developed a unique Peer Health Coaching program to empower and support consumers to make health behaviour changes that will minimise the risk factors and better manage their physical health, to promote positive health outcomes. After piloting and evaluating the program over three years, the two organisations are ready to offer it to other mental health organisations across Australia.

For more details about the Peer Health Coaching Program, see the website.
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New England mental health grants awarded

RichmondPRA has announced a series of funding grants aimed at improving regional mental health service solutions in various parts of the New England. As another phase of the local Partners in Recovery (PIR) mental health support initiative, the packages have been awarded following a careful selection process where applicants have to demonstrate how they can use innovative practices to assist local people with a lived experience of mental illness. To date, eight funding packages between $6,000 and $40,000 have been contracted and more funding is available for other organisations that can make a difference when it comes to providing local mental health recovery options. Totalling $107,000 as at the end of July, the funding enables local organisations to introduce ground-breaking community-based support programs across the region.
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The World Alzheimer Report 2015

The World Alzheimer Report 2015, The Global Impact of Dementia: An analysis of prevalence, incidence, cost and trends updates ADI’s global dementia data was released this week. By carrying out a full update of previous systematic reviews, the report makes key recommendations to provide a global framework for action on dementia. The report also includes a systematic review of the evidence for and against recent trends in the prevalence and incidence of dementia over time, as well as an analysis of the broader societal impact of dementia. Visit the website to download the full report.
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Hocking Fellowship - last chance to apply

Here’s your chance to promote better mental health and advance the public understanding of mental illness. The Hocking Fellowship offers a research grant of up to $20,000 to an Australian active in the mental health field - including those living with a mental illness, carers, and professionals. The Fellowship enables the successful applicant to undertake study visits in Australia or overseas. Applications close 31 August, visit the website for full details.
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National Carers Week: 11 - 17 October 2015

National Carers Week is about recognising and celebrating the outstanding contribution unpaid carers make to our nation. Anyone at anytime can become a carer. National Carers Week is an opportunity to educate and raise awareness among all Australians about the diversity of carers and their caring roles. Carers make an enormous contribution to our communities as well as our national economy, and National Carers Week provides you with a chance to take time out to learn about carers and caring in Australia. Visit the website for full details on how you can get involved. 
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Swell is looking for your peer recovery stories

Swell: the online recovery toolkit for people with mental distress and addiction and the people with work with them is currently being developed. The team are starting to develop content for workers. There will be 60 challenges in 10 life domains. Each challenge includes a two page article on what works, a conversation guide and a peer recovery story. All people who submit a story will get a free login to the Swell resources. People who submit a story that is published will receive an Amazon gift voucher worth NZD $200 and a free copy of ‘Madness Made Me’ by Mary O’Hagan. The stories will be edited in collaboration with the authors who will decide if they want their story to be an anonymous or not. Email your inquiries to or visit for more details.
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World Suicide Prevention Day 2015

The 2015 international theme of World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) is ‘Preventing Suicide: Reaching Out and Saving Lives.’ It is speaking up to reduce the stigma around talking about suicide prevention safely. It is about standing up to make a positive impact on our mental health and wellbeing. It is about being self informed and aware of support and services available to all those touched by suicide and those building a resilient community to prevent suicide.

World Suicide Prevention Day in 2015 is significant because it falls on the same day as R U OK?Day. To mark this day, the National Coalition for Suicide Prevention are standing behind two important campaigns:

  1. National public awareness campaign called ‘Thanks For Asking’ 
  2. Launch of a national research action plan to align research funds and priorities in suicide prevention in Australia. Stay tuned for more on this when it is officially released at Parliament House on the morning of WSPD.

For full details please visit the website.
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Agreed policy positions from the 13th National Rural Health Conference

The 37 member bodies of the National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) have considered the priority recommendations from the 13th National Rural Health Conference and reached agreement on a range of rural and remote health policy positions. The NRHA now intends to seek responses to, and action on, these proposals from any entity that can progress them – governments or NGOs, consumers or clinicians, local or national bodies. It encourages other organisations that support the ideas, and that share its determination to improve health and health services in rural and remote areas, to support the proposals and do anything they can to advance them. For full details please visit the website.
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Draft version 2 of the NSQHS Standards released for consultation

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has consulted with health professionals, consumers, technical experts and jurisdictional representatives about their challenges and successes with the current version of the National Safety and Quality Service (NSQHS) Standards. Based on this information and the latest evidence on healthcare safety and quality, a draft version 2 of the NSQHS Standards has been developed. A public consultation on the draft version 2 of the NSQHS Standards is now open and feedback can be provided until 30 October 2015. The Commission wants to hear from anyone involved in health care during this consultation period, including consumers, health professionals, health service managers, health departments, technical experts and accrediting agencies. Visit the website for full details.
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    Warm regards,
Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer     Mental Health Begins with Me!


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