CEO Update - 3 December

 CEO Update, Mental Health Australia

This Week

Starting to feel a lot like Christmas

With only a few updates to go before the end of 2015, I’m now beginning to reflect on the year that has been. It’s certainly been a busy one for the mental health sector. From the release of the National Mental Health Commission’s Review to the Government’s announcement at the end of November, and its promise to provide certainty regarding current contracts and services arrangements by December (ie in the next couple of weeks) we have come a long way in the mental health reform space.

Of course reform is not yet complete. We look forward to working with our members and friends now and into the New Year on the next step in our reform journey, finally moving from review to implementation. As you will see from stories in my update today, a great deal of work is already underway.

Australian Mental Health Champion among BBC’s 100 Inspirational Woman

Many of you will have been following (and cheering for) the case of a young woman called Ella Ingram, who is taking on the might of the insurance industry in relation to discrimination in insurance. 

I hope you join me in now congratulating Ella, who has been named among the BBC’s 100 most inspirational women in 2015.

The 21-year-old Melbourne woman made headlines in October when she challenged insurance giant QBE over its decision to reject her travel insurance claim when she was hospitalised with depression at the age of 17, and couldn’t go on a school trip to New York which she had already paid for. Her case, presented by Victoria Legal Aid, was an Australian first and seen as a test of the lawfulness of insurance discrimination on the grounds of mental illness.

Board matters

We were pleased to host Robyn Kruk at our office in Canberra this week, for her induction as a Mental Health Australia Board member. At this week’s Board meeting, Robyn was also appointed Deputy Chair of Mental Health Australia. As you are probably aware, Robyn brings a wealth of experience to the Board and we are delighted to welcome her to the team.

At the same Board meeting Alison Xamon was appointed Chair of Mental Health Australia’s Governance Committee. We will update the full Board details and positions on our web site shortly.


Today Policy Director Josh Fear, Consumer and Carer Programs Director Kylie Wake, and I are all attending the National Mental Health Sector Reference Group in Melbourne. This group provides a reference point for many of the issues impacting the psychosocial aspects of the NDIS. It has representatives from across the sector, including consumers and carers and government officials from various departments and jurisdictions.

Meeting between DSS and Mental Health Australia

Earlier in the week, Josh and I met with the Department of Social Services this week to discuss the intersection between the NDIS, the Government’s response to the National Mental Health Commission’s Review, and ongoing planning for the 5th National Mental Health Plan. Mental Health Australia remains concerned that there are likely to be gaps opening up in services offerings as various measures are rolled out. Ensuring that we have appropriate monitoring, and ensuring that people in need of services do not fall between the cracks, will be important tasks in the months ahead.

Consultation open on Version 1.0 Australian Mental Health Care Classification

The Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA) has released the first version of the draft Australian Mental Health Care Classification (AMHCC). IHPA is seeking the views of stakeholders through a public consultation process from now to 18 December 2015. The consultation paper and details for the lodgement of submissions can be found at here.

The AMHCC aims to improve the way that mental health care services can be classified, counted and costed, helping the sector understanding what, where and how services are provided. It is IHPA’s intention that in the future the classification will cover all mental health care services, requiring collection of data from settings including admitted, non-admitted, public community mental health care and community managed/non-government organisations.

Mental Health Australia has been working with IHPA over the past twelve months to engage the mental health sector in the development of the AMHCC. On our website we have a number of resources to assist members with understanding the work of IHPA and the AMHCC.

Louise O’Donnell in our Policy Team can be contacted on p: 02 6285 0806 or via her email Louise.O’ for assistance with questions. IHPA have also asked us to extend an invitation to all members for the opportunity to meet with IHPA staff to discuss any issues and questions you may have regarding the AMHCC. Please notify Louise if you would like to meet with IHPA staff and we will be happy to pass on your details to facilitate a meeting.

Again I urge members to become familiar with the work of IHPA and the importance of data collection for mental health services. All levels of government are increasingly signalling that accountability through data collection for funding allocation will only grow, with the increased availability of technology and data collection infrastructure.

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Next Steps on Reform of the Federation

Earlier this year, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet released an issues paper on options for the reform of the federation. This paper flagged a range of potential major reforms to the health system that could have significant impacts on mental health.

COAG is now expected to meet Friday 11 December, and the Prime Minister, Premiers and First Ministers are expected to discuss these issues. We will keep you informed of any news in this area.

National Consensus Statement on Identification and Care for the Physical Health of People with a Mental Illness

On Monday Josh attended a stakeholder workshop convened by the National Mental Health Commission on the physical health needs of people with mental illness. The outcomes of the workshop will inform the Commission’s work to develop a National Consensus Statement on Identification and Care for the Physical Health of People with a Mental Illness.

A draft Statement will be made available for public consultation prior to being submitted to governments and the mental health sector for endorsement.

Another workshop, co-convened by the Commission and by Consumers Health Forum, will take place next Monday in Canberra.

Capital Health Network

On Monday, Daniel Casey from the Policy Team attended a strategic planning session for Capital Health Network (CHN), ACT’s Primary Health Network. This session brought together all of the organisations working in mental health across Canberra, including the ACT Government and the National Disability Insurance Agency to discuss how CHN should progress the recently announced mental health reforms.  CHN are progressing a detailed mental health needs analysis for the region, which will underpin their mental health commissioning role. We look forward to supporting other PHNs as they transition into their new role.

New Access Advisory Committee

I attended a meeting of the New Access Advisory Committee this week. This committee is following the roll out of the New Access initiative. The Committee considered some of the evaluation evidence that is now appearing regarding the positive impact of the program. The emergence of this evidence is also timely given that the Government’s response to the NMHC Review pointed to “coaching” style services as being an important part of a future mental health system.

National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA) 20th Anniversary

I was pleased to attend the 20th Anniversary celebrations for the National Ethnic Disability Alliance in Canberra this week. Advocacy organisations have faced some very substantial challenges over the last 20 years and it is a tremendous credit to all those who have been involved in NEDA that that have not only survived, but thrived. In the face of huge reforms like the NDIS it is remarkable that such a small organisation (in the scheme of things) can be having such significant impact.

As the MHiMA project continues our partnerships with organisations such as NEDA will be critical to success and we look forward to working together more closely.
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MHiMA Project

Our MHiMA work continues to gather pace. We are currently forming a Project Advisory Group with representation from all jurisdictions, CALD consumers and carers, and CALD views and expertise outside of the mental health sector. As part of this process, during the week we met with representatives from the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) and the National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA), and the Chair of the Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Principal Committee (MHDAPC). The Advisory Group will first meet in February 2016.

As flagged in previous updates, Mental Health Australia is commissioning an independent review of the Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia. The review will include an examination of the Framework’s structure, delivery and sustainability, and recommendations for future delivery and expanded implementation. I am pleased to confirm the review will be conducted by the Australian Health Services Research Institute (AHSRI), University of Wollongong (UoW). The lead reviewer will be Professor Kathy Eagar, Director, AHSRI, who brings great experience and expertise to the important task of planning a way forward for this well regarded Framework.

I’m also pleased to advise we’ve received many excellent applications for the MHiMA Project Manager and Project Officer positions and anticipate finalising the recruitment process in the next couple of weeks. I’ll share more about these activities in future updates.

Some of you may be aware there was a story on SBS News on 1 December regarding the MHiMA project and I am keen to ensure all stakeholders are aware of the approach we are taking.

Since we took on the project, I have been providing weekly information in this update on MHiMA and have tried to be completely transparent about the future direction of the project. I want to repeat my commitment that Mental Health Australia will engage and work closely with the multicultural and CALD sectors to help ensure a strong future for the MHiMA project.

To date NCCCWG involvement has included a teleconference with me and all NCCCWG members, NCCCWG representative participation in the only meeting of former consortium members and the Queensland based Project Manager, and various email correspondence. Mental Health Australia has also been liaising with the NCCCWG and the Department of Health regarding NCCCWG engagement in informal consultations on the development of the 5th National Mental Health Plan. We have also committed to continuing the NCCCWG Support Officer and been in communication with the current NCCCWG Support Officer regarding finalising this. We consider consumer and carer engagement essential to MHiMA’s future success (as we consider consumer and carer engagement essential to all mental health reforms). I look forward to further work with the NCCCWG, and we are currently working to fill vacancies on the group in order to assist this. This commitment will continue.

The project has had some great challenges, and passionate people will help to create a strong future. We are moving forward, and I am very optimistic about building a strong future for multicultural mental health services.
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Parliamentary news

NDIS in Tasmania

Following announcements made in September, this week the Commonwealth Government announced it has reached agreement for the roll out of the NDIS in Tasmania. This agreement gives certainty to more than 10,500 people with disability and their families in Tasmania.  
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Annual report tabled in Parliament

Also this week, the Australian Human Rights Commission’s 2014-15 Annual Report was tabled in Federal Parliament. The Annual Report outlines the range of projects and activities undertaken by the Commission for the 2014-15 financial year. This includes human rights education and promotion; engaging with business on human rights; monitoring and reporting on laws, policies and practices that can better protect human rights; investigation and conciliation of complaints of alleged discrimination; and international engagement. One of the Commission’s primary functions is to help resolve complaints about discrimination and breaches of human rights.
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Landmark new mental health act for WA 

Announcing the start of Western Australia’s long-awaited new Mental Health Act, WA Mental Health Minister Helen Morton said this week was a time of celebration and an important milestone for people with mental illness and their family and carers. Mrs Morton said the Mental Health Act 2014, which had been in development for more than a decade, would underpin a broad cultural shift in the management of mental health problems and the treatment of people with mental illness.
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NSW Mental Health Commission’s ‘Medication and Mental Illness’ paper released

The NSW Mental Health Commissioner, John Feneley, has launched a paper about medication and mental illness. Developed in collaboration with the Commission’s Pharmacotherapy Advisory Group, comprising of consumers, carers, clinicians, academics and allied health professionals, provides a raw account of people’s experiences of medication, citing direct commentary from consumers and carers experiencing the good and the not so good reality of psychotropic medication use.
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Community 21

One of Australia’s longest standing social businesses has once again invited new not-for-profit shareholders as its next Share Offer opened to future focussed non-profit organisations this month. Community 21 is a consortium of not-for-profits and the half owner of Community Sector Banking. As a profit-for-purpose entity, Community 21 focuses on delivering environmental and community outcomes as well as delivering returns for Shareholders.

Over coming months it is looking to raise up to $2mill to inject into a number of sector strengthening initiatives, including:

  • further developing the world-first banking and crowdfunding platform,
  • working with Community Sector Banking on building an investment fund for social impact
  • creating a not-for-profit clean energy fund
  • developing a shared back office support bureau

Download and consider the Prospectus below.
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ProBono - State of the Sector Survey

The role of advocacy, sector collaboration and improving the method of government funding agreements are the top priorities for Australia’s Not for Profit sector, according to the 2015 national survey by Pro Bono Australia. The sector also pointed to capacity building, human capital, red tape reduction, the continuation of the charity regulator and measuring social impact as further priorities.
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No 2 Bullying Conference

The No 2 Bullying Conference being held on the Gold Coast, 18 - 19 April 2016 will feature presentations that are thought-provoking, researched and evidence-based which investigate best practice approaches to generational change. The Conference will focus on key principles and best practice for creating a generational change towards bullying and will examine bullying in schools, workplaces and cyberspace. For full details or to submit an abstract please visit the website.
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Royal Commission - call for submissions

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is calling for submissions on issues relating to advocacy and support and therapeutic treatment services.

It is important for the Commission to hear what services victims and survivors need, what was useful to address the impact of the abuse and how services can better support survivors. Survivors, victims and service providers are encouraged to have their say. For more information or to lodge a submission please visit the website.
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Warm regards

Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer


Mental Health Begins with Me!


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