CEO Update - 7 November


 CEO Update, Mental Health Australia Perspectives


This Week

National Mental Health Commission’s Review of Mental Health Services and Programmes 

This week we made our last submission to the National Mental Health Commission’s Review of Mental Health Services and Programmes. The Commission is due to report to government on November 30th.  The Blueprint for Action on Mental Health that we presented was the culmination of a great deal of work, including considerable input from our members and stakeholders. Thanks to all who contributed.

We intend to release the Blueprint to members next week, along with some ideas about how we might work together to ensure that the government takes up the task of progressing much needed reform.  More information to follow… 

National Disability Insurance Scheme

This week our Director of Policy and Projects, Josh Fear, and I had a number of meetings, including with officials from the NDIA, to discuss progress of the NDIS design and implementation. I say “design and implementation” because it is clear that there are still so many questions to be answered about exactly what the NDIS will be, and who it will serve, and what services will remain outside the NDIS.

You will recall from my last update that I recently had the opportunity to present to the Joint Standing Committee of Parliament on the NDIS (Chaired by Mal Brough) to discuss the challenges we face in implementing the NDIS.  Although the Committee was in closed session, I am able to make available my opening statement to the Committee (see the link below) and can report that the members of the Committee appeared to have quite a deep understanding of the issues that we are facing together. I will be interested to see what recommendations the Committee makes to government about overcoming those challenges.

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Multicultural Mental Health Conference

Today I was delighted to participate in the “Raising our Voices” conference convened by the ACT Multicultural Mental Health Network. The conference brought together a considerable amount of expertise and lived experience and was a very positive gathering, in spite of the current sense that our country’s proud traditions of multiculturalism are currently under great strain.  

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National Mental Health Leaders Project

Kylie Wake, Director, Consumer and Carer Programs, and Jennifer Yap from the consumer and carer team, have been in Sydney since Wednesday, attending the third workshop for the 11 participants in the National Mental Health Leaders Project. Mental Health Australia is proud to be working with the National Mental Health Commission and project co-sponsors, Janet Meagher and Robyn Kruk, on this exciting initiative. The workshop continues today, a full wrap up will be included in next week’s update. 

Supported decision making

On Monday our Senior Policy Officer Liz Ruck attended a Supported Decision Making Network meeting hosted by ACT Disability, Aged and Carer Advocacy Service (ADACAS).  The network brings together a diverse mix of national representatives from the community sector, health, law and government seeking to promote the use of best practice supported decision making. The network’s expertise will provide important input into the future of supported decision making in the NDIS and mental health sectors.

Disability Employment Services Consumer Day

Today, Liz is attending the annual Disability Employment Services Consumer Day being run by the Department of Employment. This event is an opportunity for us to encourage the Department of Employment to support the participation of mental health consumers and carers in such consultative processes. 


Parliamentary news

Tender outcomes for Disability Employment Services announced

This week the Federal Government announced the finalisation of the competitive tender process for the remaining part of the $300 million per year Disability Management Service to help people with disability find jobs. The Government announced in the Budget that it would put to open tender the 47 per cent of Disability Management Service currently delivered by the Government provider, CRS Australia. Senator Mitch Fifield announced 47 successful tenderers will receive 202 separate offers to deliver Disability Management Services (DMS) across 97 Employment Service Areas. Senator Fifield said this was the first time the entire disability employment market would be fully open to competition. Information about the successful DES-DMS tenderers can be found at the Department of Social Services website.

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Lived Experience Network Leadership Group applications open

Our friends at Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA) are inviting applications for the inaugural Lived Experience Network Leadership Group.  The Leadership Group will work closely with SPA to understand issues, set priorities and keep the wider Lived Experience Network relevant and representative of those with lived experience across Australia. The Leadership Group has a specific role that is very strategic and about the big picture. An explanation of the role of the Leadership Group, the recruitment process and details about how to apply are now available on the SPA website.

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Become a Champion today - Champions of Mental Health Peer Work Initiative

This important initiative is a national capacity building project which will create a peer trainer and assessor workforce to deliver the new Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work and ensure prompt and streamlined implementation of the qualification across Australia. There are currently few trainers and assessors across Australia who meet all the requirements of the National Training Package, to train and assess the Cert IV in Mental Health Peer Work. The aim of this project is to catalyse the growth of a national peer work trainer workforce by targeting 30 highly experienced consumer and carer peer workers across Australia who are also experienced trainers and facilitators. Full details are available from the website.

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Disability services system under pressure ahead of the NDIS - Victoria

Victoria’s disability system is struggling to cope with increasing demand for services in the lead-up to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), a new survey shows. The survey by National Disability Services, the peak body representing non-government disability service providers reveals a system under strain, with many providers across Victoria considering big changes to the services they offer. The NDIS, currently being trialled in the Barwon region, is due to be implemented statewide from 2016-19 although it is not known which parts of the state will be next for inclusion, piling on the uncertainty for providers and their clients.

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Strategies to strengthen mental health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare this week released an Issues Paper for the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse. The purpose of the paper is to draw on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives, theoretical understandings and available evidence to answer questions about what is required to effectively address Indigenous people’s mental health and social and emotional wellbeing. It reviews the research and evaluation evidence to show what works, what doesn’t work and what we don’t know. You can download the full report from the website. 

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2nd World Congress on Integrated Care

The 2nd World Congress on Integrated Care will be held in Sydney on 23-25 November. I am pleased to confirm that I will be presenting as part of a session on ‘the state of integrated mental and physical health care in Australia’. The conference will bring together researchers, clinicians and managers from around the world who are engaged in the radical redesign of services. They will share experience and the latest evidence about patient and population needs, patient-centered service design, and the information and communications technology needed to make integrated services a reality. Full details are available from the website.

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Primary Mental Health Care in the Digital Age Conference

The Australian College of Mental Health Nurses is hoping their Primary Mental Health Care in the Digital Age Conference next March. The conference will explore the impact of technology on mental health and wellbeing, and the impact on clinicians’ capacity to deliver primary mental health care.  The conference is a supportive forum where clinicians can share their practice experiences with other clinicians, and have the opportunity to hear from leading experts in e-mental health including  Professor Helen Christensen from the Black Dog Institute and Associate Professor Jane Burns of the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre. The call for abstracts closes on Friday 14 November 2014.  

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Suicide prevention funding for local projects - WA

WA Mental Health Minister Helen Morton announced $600,000 of One Life Suicide Prevention small grants for community groups to run suicide prevention initiatives, including specific training for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community. The ‘Opening Closets’ training helps organisations to LGBTI community members who may be at risk of suicide. For the first time Aboriginal-controlled health organisations are also eligible to apply for grants of up to $10,000. Further details are available from the website.

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Lifeguard Project for Australian communities of gay men

The National LGBTI Health Alliance this week announced the commencement of the Lifeguard Project for Australian communities of gay men. Working with beyondblue and the Movember Foundation, the Alliance will foster a community conversation and educate gay men across Australia in an effort to tackle the alarming rates of depression, anxiety and suicide within this community. The Project will give gay men the confidence, knowledge and skills to become ‘Lifeguards’ in their social networks, to support themselves, and their partners and friends, if they are struggling. It will do this through a highly interactive online toolkit containing practical strategies, advice and actions. Further details are available from the website.

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Workshop to develop Funding Principles

Later this month, Suicide Prevention Australia will be hosting a workshop to develop principles for funding research into suicide prevention. Attendees will play an integral role in shaping future suicide prevention research as well as have the opportunity to meet with a wide range of grant-making organisations and professionals from government, research institutes, corporate and business, and philanthropic foundations. While the content focus of this workshop is suicide prevention it is anticipated that the guidelines will be applicable more broadly. 

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Putting Technology into Practice - report

A new research report on ‘Putting Technology into Practice’ was released this week by the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre. The report examines how technology has been used to engage young people in face-to-face clinical services and includes insights from headspace staff and the headspace Youth National Reference Group. Visit the website to download the full report.

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Think Outcomes forum

Think Outcomes is a two-day forum to challenge, learn and develop a plan of action for the future of social outcomes in Australia presented by the Centre for Social Impact (CSI), the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) and the Social Impact Measurement Network Australia (SIMNA). For participants looking to explore what meaningful social change can emerge from measuring outcomes and who want to influence debate, develop capability, and enable change. Our own Josh Fear will be on eof the presenters at this important gathering.  More details are available from the website.

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AMA Indigenous People’s Medical Scholarship - applications open

Our friends at the AMA this week announced that applications are open for their 2015 AMA Indigenous Peoples’ Medical Scholarship. The successful applicant will receive $10,000 each year for the duration of their course. The AMA Scholarship aims to help increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the medical workforce. Full details are available from the website. 

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St Vincent de Paul Society Christmas Appeal launched

The Vinnies Christmas Appeal runs annually throughout November to February to support the people that will suffer in silence and will be doing it tough over the Christmas period. This Appeal aims to provide much needed help from practical assistance to food hampers, emotional support, toys and gifts for children, individuals and families so they too can experience the joy of Christmas. If you are interested in getting involved please visit the website.

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National Roundtable on the mental health of people with intellectual disability

An audit report on action from the National Roundtable on the Mental Health of People with Intellectual Disability was released this week by our friends at the NSW Council for Intellectual Disability. The audit survey sought from Roundtable participants a report on action on the eight key elements of reform in the 12 months following the Roundtable, which was held in May 2013. The full report can be downloaded from the NSW CID website.

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H20 International Health Summit - Healthy People, Successful Economy

The World Medical Association will join with the Australian Medical Association and AMA Victoria to host the H20 International Health Summit on Thursday 13 to Friday 14 November 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. As I mentioned earlier, I am pleased to say that I will making a brief presentation to the Summit which will be an opportunity for international medical professions to come together and put the spotlight on health issues prior to the G20 Leaders’ Summit. Health of Nations is a core component of the Wealth of Nations and it has been said that “Health is the greatest social capital a nation can have”. A productive society depends on a healthy engaged and confident workforce. More details on the Summit are available from the website.

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Warm regards

Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer

Mental Health Begins with Me!

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