CEO Update - 30 October

 CEO Update, Mental Health Australia

This Week

Sussan Ley at the National Press Club

Kylie Wake and Chris Wagner hosted a table of our members for the first official address by Federal Health Minister, the Hon Sussan Ley MP, at the National Press Club on Wednesday. Minister Ley outlined a range of issues relating to her broader portfolio and announced a consultation process for a new review of private health insurance.

The Minister also discussed the Australian Government’s up-and-coming response to the Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services and reiterated her commitment to no overall cuts to mental health. Click below to watch the address if you missed it.
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Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (MHiMA) Project

On 26 October 2015 in Canberra, staff from Mental Health Australia and I met with a number of former consortium members and stakeholders involved in delivering the Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (MHiMA) Project. Mental Health Australia has recently taken on the management of this project. The meeting included a consumer and a carer representative from the National CALD Consumer and Carer Working Group (NCCCWG).

This one day meeting focused on achievements to date and the future of the MHiMA Project. Participants discussed potential activities from now until the end of June 2016, and how Mental Health Australia can engage with the wider CALD sector for greater input into the MHiMA project.

Key issues discussed in the meeting included:

  • MHiMA Project progress and achievements to date
  • Ongoing management of the MHiMA Project, and
  • Views on priority activities until the end of June 2016, and how this could be supported by advice from stakeholders.

At the meeting, I reiterated our commitment to engaging with stakeholders and consumers and carers, and the importance of the wider CALD and mental health sectors in providing input and expertise on this important Project.

Potential work priorities identified were the Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia and broadening sector engagement and representation, including for consumers and carers.

One of the major tasks for Mental Health Australia will be to provide recommendations to the Department of Health on the future of the MHiMA Project beyond June 2016.

Regular updates on the MHiMA Project will be provided through a number of avenues, including this Update.


Presentation to the Department of Finance

I was delighted to be hosted by Secretary Jane Halton PSM, and to present to around 35 members of the Australian Government Department of Finance Social Policy Unit. I was able to outline the current challenges that we face across mental health, and in particular the cross-portfolio issues that only a central agency like the Department of Finance can address. As we get close to the Government’s response to the National Mental Health Commission’s Review, and as preparations commence for the 2016 Budget, it is important for central agencies to be aware of the role they might play in the mental health reform agenda.


Meeting with Senator Gallagher

As part of our Distributed Advocacy Day efforts I joined Richmond Fellowship CEO Wilf Rath and carer representative Janet Milford to meet with the new Shadow Minister for Mental Health, Senator Katy Gallagher, in her electorate office in Canberra this week. Senator Gallagher comes to the role with considerable experience as Chief Minister, and Minister for Health in the ACT, before moving to the Australian Senate. Our discussions focused on the intersection of ongoing mental health services and programs and the NDIS, and the potential gaps that this may create. We look forward to continued discussions with Senator Gallagher (who many of you met when she attended our Members Policy Forum in Canberra last week).    


Hunter PIR Forum 

On Wednesday I visited Newcastle to speak at the Hunter PIR Forum. The Forum brought many local service providers and agencies together to consider the current state of the Partners in Recovery Program and the mental health reform agenda more broadly. There is clearly an ongoing sense of frustration that so many decisions affecting the future of programs and services that people rely on, and the employment of so many in the mental health workforce, are still awaiting decision. The interface issues between existing programs and services and future NDIS services will require careful planning and transition, and time is already running out.


Professor Kathy Griffiths and Brad Carron-Arthur Re: Clearinghouse Project 

On a positive note it was great to end the week today with a meeting with Kathy Griffiths and Brad Carron Arthur from the ANU, to discuss the future of the Clearinghouse Project.  Nearly 30 organisations have expressed an interest in participating in this project and our meeting mapped out some of the steps we will take to give the project life in the new year.  More information to follow.


Parliamentary news

Interim SA Mental Health Commissioner Appointed

One of South Australia’s most respected clinicians has been appointed as the interim commissioner for the state’s newly established Mental Health Commission. Dr Stephen Christley, who was previously South Australian Chief Public Health Officer, will take up the role on November 14. Mental Health and Substance Abuse Minister Jack Snelling said Dr Christley’s appointment is crucial as the State Government moves to better mental health services for South Australians.



Expert Guidelines: Diagnosis and Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Emergency Service Workers

Emergency workers perform a vital role in our society but there is increasing realisation that this work can come at a cost. Large numbers of emergency workers report ongoing psychological consequences from exposure to trauma, most notably post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

A set of evidence-based guidelines have developed by leading Australian clinicians and researchers to identify and treat PTSD in emergency service workers. These guidelines have been endorsed by the Royal Australian and NZ College of Psychiatrists and have been designed for use by any health professional who is managing PTSD in this unique group.
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Seeking young adults with bipolar disorder for mental health survey

The University of NSW and the Black Dog Insitute are seeking volunteers for a research project to learn more about the strategies and skills that assist young adults with bipolar disorder in the day-to-day management of their lives, and the techniques they use that enable them to stay well. The information will then be used to assess how mobile technologies may assist in providing extra support for self-management skills in bipolar, and to develop ways that smartphones can pass on these skills to other young adults with bipolar.

People are eligible to complete the online survey if they:

  • Are aged 18-25 years
  • Have access to the internet
  • Have a diagnosis of bipolar, and
  • Are able to read and write English.

To find out more information please email Jennifer Nicholas at To take part in the short surveys click below.
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Mental Health: Exploring Collaborative Community Reform in South Australia

A new research project launched in Adelaide aims to provide a blueprint for better and more sustainable mental health care provision in South Australia. The project, Mental Health: Exploring Collaborative Community Reform in South Australia, will be undertaken by the Australian Centre for Community Services Research at Flinders University in partnership with the Don Dunstan Foundation and the Mental Health Coalition of South Australia. 

It aims to identify and explore the community mental health sector priorities for reform in South Australia and will seek out current barriers to the provision of cross sectoral service integration. The three-stage project will also investigate the importance of sustainable accommodation and appropriate support in helping people live with mental illness.
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NACCHO and Guild joint paper on medicines to help close the gap

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (The Guild) have released a national Joint Position Paper calling for improvements in the CTG PBS Co-payment measure.

A range of practical changes to Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme aim to boost the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders accessing appropriate medicines and help close the health gap between Aboriginal and other Australians.

Introduced in 2010, the Closing the Gap Co-Payment measure reduces or removes the patient co-payment for PBS medicines for eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients living with, or at risk of chronic disease.

Some of the key points the position paper raises are the need for the measure to:

  • Link CTG eligibility to the patient’s Medicare Card to improve privacy, and so that the patient is eligible regardless of who the prescriber is or where their medicine is dispensed;
  • Expand the PBS listing to include more common medicines;
  • Include Dose Administration Aids for better management of medicines; and
  • Better communication for patients and health professionals of the CTG Co-payment measure.

Read more in their position paper below.
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6NIL: 6 mountains, 5 countries, 4 continents, 3 months, 2 people, 1 goal, 0 suicides

On Saturday 21 November the Canberra community will be able to hear about the mountain climbing adventures of Will and Maddie Gay and their campaign to raise awareness of suicide prevention and $250,000 for Lifeline Australia. The fundraising event is being supported by Paralympian Gold Medallist Kurt Fearnley, who lost a cousin to suicide. To support this fantastic campaign please visit the website.
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Scholarships at NDARC

NDARC offers scholarships to select researchers who wish to undertake a PhD at the Centre. Applications for scholarships generally open towards the end of the calendar year and are advertised on this web page.

Scholarships are for research aimed at improving the effectiveness of Australian and international treatment and prevention of alcohol and other drug related harm. NDARC conducts psychological and public health research. 

Applicants should have a strong honours degree in one of the behavioural sciences (psychology, public health or a related discipline) and knowledge of EEO/AA principles and policies. Experience in the drug and alcohol field is desirable, although not essential.

As at January 2014, full-time PhD Scholarships are set at $26,000.00 p.a. for 3 years and are tax exempt.

Any enquiries in relation to the PhD program through the School of Public Health and Community Medicine should be addressed to the SPHCM Graduate Research Student Support Officer, phone: +61 (2) 9385 3588 or email:
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International Day Of People With Disability 

Organisations and individuals interested in marking this year’s International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) can now register their planned events. IDPwD is celebrated globally on 3 December each year and almost 1000 events were registered across Australia last year. 
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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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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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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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White Ribbon Day

White Ribbon Day are launching a new Oath. The silence is being broken around men’s violence against women; change is happening.

Increasingly men are standing up, speaking out and acting to prevent violence against women. 25 November is the most important day of the year for the campaign and you can take part.

  • Take the new Oath
  • Wear a white ribbon
  • Host an event
  • Tag the campaign @whiteribbonaust and use the hashtag #WhiteRibbonAust

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Warm regards,

Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer

Mental Health Begins with Me!



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