CEO Update: From community led initiatives to whole of government - we need to prevent suicide

From community led initiatives to whole of government -
we need to prevent suicide

Sadly it’s not hard to find stories, and lived experiences, of brave people who have been bereaved by suicide, or who have struggled with their own despair and suicidal thoughts. But it is always hard to hear them.

And for many of us in the mental health ecosystem, not only are we touched by these experiences and stories regularly, but they also drive us to help improve systems and reform. Drive us to help prevent suicide.

In my previous role at the Western Victoria Primary Health Network I had the opportunity to support the development of suicide prevention trials in Ballarat and Warrnambool.

I will never forget the crucial and defining work of drawing the community together. We listened to the lived experience, examined the suicide data, and the demographics behind the data that told the story of who was most at risk, and why this was the case. And then we worked with the community for the systematic design of a range of responses, not just one activity or idea, but a range of community led initiatives that together have helped change the dialogue and provide people with ownership, but more importantly hope.

But as we know change is not easy and it needs broad engagement, strong leadership, and in the case of suicide prevention a comprehensive community based response.

Last week we saw another catalyst for such change in the release of the Interim Advice to the Prime Minister on Suicide Prevention, and I’m sure many of us will take up the opportunity to review and provide feedback on this important piece of future reform.

“The Interim Advice calls for a national whole-of-government approach that strengthens and builds on what our health systems can offer. To be effective, we need all jurisdictions and portfolios working together. It also means using the levers of government and partnerships with other agencies to reduce and respond to the social and economic drivers of distress that are often deeply rooted in the social determinants of health – job security, economic security, safety from violence and abuse, meaningful participation and social connection.” National Mental Health Commission

The document is a welcome partner to the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Mental Health Final Report, and at Mental Health Australia we have welcomed both reports and acknowledge the important work of bringing together these comprehensive set of recommendations in relation to suicide prevention for consideration.

Understandably the recommendations are wide ranging with a consistent theme based on learning from lived experience, the need for whole of government approaches, targeting priority population groups and improved data collection and monitoring that will be widely supported.

Similar to the whole of government strategies recommended in the Productivity Commission Inquiry, how these recommendations should be taken forward as part of a comprehensive reform agenda in relation to suicide prevention will also be something we as a mental health ecosystem need to advocate for.

At a federal level the proposed establishment of an Office of Suicide Prevention could  provide a further focus in this area, but with states and territories also playing a crucial role in any suicide prevention strategy we need to know how arrangements will work across jurisdictions, and how they will filter down and link into community led and driven initiatives.  

Initiatives that will help change the stories and lived experiences for many.

Have a good weekend

Leanne Beagley

Reminder: Mental Health Australia Annual General Meeting

Reminder that the Annual General Meeting of Mental Health Australia Ltd will be held on Thursday 10 December 2020 at 2.30pm (AEDST). Due to extraordinary circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, and for the continued safety of everyone in our community, this meeting will be held virtually using Redback webinar.  A link to the virtual AGM will be sent to all registered members prior to the meeting.

Invitation to the 2020 Grace Groom Memorial Oration with Dr Brendan Murphy - via video webinar

Mental Health Australia is pleased to invite you to the 2020 Grace Groom Memorial Oration to be delivered by Dr Brendan Murphy, Secretary of the Department of Health and former Chief Medical Officer for the Australian Government.

The oration will take place at 3:00pm AEDT on Thursday 10 December, preceded by the Mental Health Australia Annual General Meeting at 2:30pm AEDTTo register for either or both events, please email RSVP by Monday 7 December.



It was great to catch up with a number of members and stakeholders actually in person, in Melbourne last week, and I’m looking forward to doing the same again in Sydney next week, and Brisbane later in December. As for visiting other states, I’m looking forward to scheduling these in the New Year.

On Monday I’m looking forward to meeting with former MP Cathy O’Toole who is a strong advocate for multicultural mental health services and literacy in Far North Queensland, while Harry Lovelock with be attending the first National Mental Health Digital Framework Workshop.
On Tuesday we’ll be catching up with Senator Rachel Siewert and later with the mental health team at the Department of Health. Also on Tuesday Lachlan Searle will be attending the National Mental Health Commission roundtable on wellbeing and mental health considerations for the Vision 2030 Roadmap, and Melanie Cantwell will be attending the Steering Committee for the COVID-19 carers project we are working on with Carers Australia and Mental Health Carers Australia.

On Wednesday I’ll be attending a digital mental health workforce workshop as part of the development of the National Digital Mental Health Framework, and also on Wednesday, the team will be holding another of our annual workshop-alternative monthly webinars for National Register, NMHCCF, and Embrace CALD Consumer & Carer Working Group members. This one is with Dr Michelle Banfield on lived experience research.

On Thursday I am meeting with ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie.

On Friday I have a CEO Forum with the NDIA and am also talking with the Board of the Mental Health Coordinating Council in NSW and hosting our webinar with Christine Morgan, Mark Roddam, and Tania Rishniw to discuss the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health and how it will link with Vision 2030.


Embrace Multicultural Mental Health News

The Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (the Framework) is a free, nationally available online resource which allows organisations and individual practitioners to evaluate and enhance their cultural responsiveness. It has been mapped against national standards to help you meet your existing requirements, with access to a wide range of support and resources. 


Mental Health News

Call for Academy to empower consumer voice

A new report has called for a Consumer Health Leaders Academy to strengthen the role of consumers in health system decision-making. The Academy would equip consumer advocates and advisers within health consumer networks and who work with governments, government agencies and other organisations where consumer involvement is vital to further develop their skills as leaders.

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Mental Health Services in Australia

Mental health services in Australia describes the activity and characteristics of Australia’s health care and social care services accessed by people with a mental illness. This web report provides the most recent data available on the national response of the health and welfare system to the mental health care needs of Australians. Data are progressively published as it becomes available throughout the year.

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It’s time to tackle loneliness - join the movement to End Loneliness Together

A national organisation has officially launched this week, recognising the growing problem of loneliness in our community and starting a national campaign to bring people together. The coalition group – Ending Loneliness Together – has released a landmark whitepaper which delivered recommendations across multiple sectors to drive a national approach to ending loneliness. “The impact of loneliness in Australia is broad and deep; it cuts across all sectors of our society” said Scientific Chair, Dr Michelle Lim, Australia’s leading scientific expert on loneliness.

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Implementation of reforms for a simpler, faster, fairer and more flexible NDIS

Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Stuart Robert, this week released an Information Paper on the reforms that deliver on the Morrison Government’s commitment to all Australians to make the NDIS experience better and fairer. 

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Member Profiles

Australian College of Mental Health Nurses
Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (ACMHN) is the peak professional mental health nursing organisation and the recognised credentialing body for mental health nurses in Australia. It seeks to represent the profession at all levels of government and across all health service sectors. In addition, the ACMHN sets standards for practice, supports mental health nursing research and provides a forum for collegial support, networking and ongoing professional development for its members. Importantly, the ACMHN also works to promote public confidence in and professional recognition of mental health nursing.

Lutheran Services
Lutheran Services provides quality and contemporary support and accommodation for older people, young people and their families, those living with disability or mental illness, and people experiencing domestic violence and hardship.  



Consensus Statement on the primary prevention of mental disorder

This Prevention Consensus Statement has been developed by the Prevention Coalition in Mental Health, an informal group of like-minded organisations with a shared belief in the importance of prevention in the mental health field.

The Prevention Consensus Statement sets out what we can do to prevent depression, anxiety, and other conditions right now as we work our way through the social and economic challenges wrought by COVID-19, and into the future. Enhancing our focus on prevention will strengthen individuals and communities, save money, and save lives.

Please access the full document and summary document below.

Read more

Largest multi-disciplinary mental health conference coming in February

The Mental Health Services Learning Network conference is open for registrations. The largest multi-disciplinary conference in Australasia, it will offer 4 day ‘blocks’ of topical, relevant and inspiring content across the sector. See the program here and register now to get Early Bird rates. TheMHS Conference is an opportunity for Australians and New Zealanders to come together to exchange ideas, build relationships, and work towards building better mental health systems and approaches.

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Mental Health Victoria Webinar on Thursday 9 December

Mental Health Victoria is hosting the next lunchtime webinar in their Thought Leadership series on 9 December. “Not Home Yet: What the future could hold for mental health and housing” is a collaboration between MHV and Mind Australia, Council to Homeless Persons and the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute. To find out more click on the link below.

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Department of Social Services seeking feedback

The Department of Social Services is currently seeking feedback on the usability of the pilot version of the Disability Gateway. The Disability Gateway is for all people with disability, their families and carers, and seeks to:

  • improve the navigation to access relevant information and services
  • span multiple sectors including health, housing, employment, transport and everyday living 
  • exist as a central point of entry for referrals to disability information, services and programs.

To participate in the survey, visit (or for the Easy Read format, visit



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