CEO Update - Can we solve systemic issues today?

Lachlan Searle

Whether it’s a Chinese proverb, Italian adage or North American saying, I’m sure we’re all familiar with the wisdom:

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.

What if we were to add fishing to the national school curriculum? What if we were to provide micro-loans so people could establish fishing businesses? What if we were to magnify the benefit of solving a systemic issue? What would the outcomes be?

Happy New Year and welcome to 2023. No that’s not a typo, it’s a way of looking ahead to five years from now, and highlighting that what we do this year, what we do now, what we focus on, will have a magnified impact on where we’ll be in 2023.

On where mental health in Australia will be.

If we do nothing to challenge systemic issues, then they’ll remain systemic. Nothing will change. If we focus our efforts and embrace the challenge and change, then who knows…

At a federal level, ahead of the budget, we are working to provide evidence and rationale for new investment in mental health, and as you know we are well underway with that piece of work, partnering with KPMG to outline the key economic benefits to the nation. Investment that would go a long way to creating lasting, systemic change.

As part of that process we are also looking ahead to a potential election in the second half of this year (or soon after), and what that could mean for our Members, for long term policy decisions, and for funding around projects and service delivery. A challenge for us all, but one we must embrace and prepare for.

At the heart of our budget request this year, will be the clear and concise request to fund and deliver on the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan – for government to clearly and transparently fund the things it has already given a commitment to doing. A commitment which requires both federal and state government collaboration. But it’s a must.  Just imagine where we would be in 2023 if we actually acted on the Fifth Plan.

On the ground, and looking at system design and interface, we will continue to highlight and advocate to fix gaps between the NDIS and other services, especially in relation to psychosocial supports. We’ll also continue to work with PHNs to ensure they are better engaged within the sector, and better linked in with our Members.

To do all this, as well as maintain our day-to-day advocacy, policy, project and consumer and carer focus, we also need to push for increased and reliable funding for Mental Health Australia. Funding that will help us achieve our vision of mentally healthy people and mentally healthy communities.

So in 2018, over the next 49 weeks, we will work away at these opportunities, areas of concern and systemic issues, if we’re to make a difference long-term. If we are to create a positive change and impact to mental health in Australia.

And I hope you will join us in this effort.

Happy New Year. Happy 2018.

Warm regards,

Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer

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