CEO Update - Economists can get a bit of a bad rap sometimes...

Economists can get a bit of a bad rap sometimes…

We frequently think of economists as being obsessed with money. 

How do we make money?  How do we spend money? How do we turn the money that we have into even more money?

In fact, it can actually be the opposite as one of the key questions asked by economists is “Why do we spend money?”

And if we pause for a moment, that question gives the work of economists a very different focus, because money doesn’t spend itself. People spend money. To answer the “Why” question, economists need to understand human motivations and behaviours.

This week I was lucky enough to spend some time with the National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum in Melbourne.

Amongst its busy agenda was a presentation from Dr Stephen King, the Economist who is heading the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health.

Dr King began his presentation by emphasising this aspect of economics.

He explained there can be no economics without there being a “consumer”.  A consumer who is at the centre of a system for producing and distributing goods and services, an economy.

Dr King used this observation to introduce his analysis of our “mental health system”.

Paraphrasing a little, he said “What sense would it make to analyse a system and not have the person, the consumer, at the centre?”

A week or so from the time that Mental Health Australia, and its members and stakeholders will be making submissions to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health, this was sage advice.

Clearly the Commission, after meetings and consultations right across the country, has already heard the message that “the system” is broken. Fragmentation, gaps, duplication, lack of accountability, lack of evaluation, lack of funding, lack of cohesion, lack of strategy, lack of governance. All these matters seem to have been heard.

As we make our submissions this week, let’s ensure we focus on what we do about all of those challenges. What are the positive reforms that can make a lasting difference to the mental health of all Australians?

As Assistant Commissioner Rosalyn Bell asked at our recent Members Policy Forum in Canberra, “If you only had $100 dollars, what would you spend it on?”

We are often better at problem identification than we are at problem resolution.

As we get to the business end of the Productivity Commission, let’s ensure that we have solutions that put the person, the consumer, at the centre.

Warm regards,

Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer


National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum Meeting

As always it was great to catch up with the National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum in Melbourne this week, and to see and hear of the many initiatives they have in place for the year ahead. A special mention to our Consumer & Carer team at Mental Health Australia for pulling the Forum meeting together, and to the Executive Committee for their continued hard work and dedication.

Congratulations to new R U OK? CEO Katherine Newton 

Congratulations to Katherine Newton who will take over from Brendan Maher as the new CEO of R U OK? Katherine has been a regular at Mental Health Australia events over the last couple of years and we wish her all the best in her new role. I’d also like to congratulate Brendan on his fantastic work in the sector, having previously worked at Lifeline Australia and more recently in his tireless role of expanding the profile and promotion of R U OK? as their CEO for the last five years.

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Productivity Commission Inquiry News

Submissions due next Friday 5 April

This Inquiry will examine the effect of mental health on people’s ability to participate in and prosper in the community and workplace, and the effects it has more generally on our economy and productivity.

It will look at how governments across Australia, employers, professional and community groups in healthcare, education, employment, social services, housing and justice can contribute to improving mental health for people of all ages and cultural backgrounds.

The Commission will be consulting widely, including in regional Australia. They are also considering how to most effectively receive input from particular groups such as consumers and carers.


Mental Health News

‘Health Funding Facts’ website launched

Minister for Health Greg Hunt has announced a new Health Funding Facts website has been launched to help families and communities see how they are benefiting from the Liberal National Government’s health services for all Australians. The site is a one-stop-shop enabling Australians to access data on how the Morrison Government is investing in: record health and hospital funding; historic high bulk billing rates and a record number of life-saving medicines subsidised through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). 

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Mental Health Royal Commission community consultations

Victorian Minister for Mental Health, Martin Foley, says the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System will hold a series of community consultations across the state beginning next month, encouraging people with mental illness and their carers to have their voices heard. Victorians wanting to have their say or find out more about upcoming consultations will be able to access a new website launched by the Commission this week. The Royal Commission’s first community consultation will be in Whittlesea on 5 April, and consultations will continue through May. Other consultations will be held in Pakenham (9 April) and Hamilton (11-12 April).

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The Australian Institute of Sport launches crucial mental health service for athletes

The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) is continuing its commitment to the wellbeing of Australia’s high performance athletes by launching a nation-wide mental health support service. The Mental Health Referral Network (MHRN) will provide almost 1,000 AIS-funded athletes with access to 27 AIS-endorsed psychologists and mental health practitioners located across the country. 

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R U OK? launches suicide prevention campaign for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

This week R U OK? launched Stronger Together, a targeted suicide prevention campaign to encourage conversation within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Developed with the guidance and oversight of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group and 33 Creative, an Aboriginal owned and managed agency, the campaign encourages individuals to engage and offer support to their family and friends who are struggling with life. Positive and culturally appropriate resources have been developed to help individuals feel more confident in starting conversations by asking R U OK?

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Can you believe it’s Federal Budget Week… already.


So on Tuesday I will attend the 2019-20 Treasury Federal Budget Stakeholder Lockup, and then later that night we will inform Members and stakeholders of all the relevant mental health news to come out of this year’s Federal Budget.


On Wednesday I will be meeting with Nieves Murray, CEO Suicide Prevention Australia, and Angus Clelland, CEO of Mental Health Victoria.


On Thursday morning I will be attending the PwC Federal Budget Insights breakfast at the National Press Club.


While on Friday I will be participating in the National Disability and Carers Alliance via teleconference.



Member Profiles

For over 10 years now, Rural and Remote Mental Health (RRMHhas been delivering mental health programs and services to people living and working in rural and remote Australia. RRMH champions proactive and preventative initiatives for rural and remote communities. They demonstrate a commitment to practical outcomes by focusing on early intervention, the identification of problems on the horizon and the prevention of them where possible. Their three key programs are:
• Resource Minds – for the mining, quarrying, resources and remote construction sector
• Deadly Thinking – for Indigenous communities
• Rural Minds – for agricultural and farming communities
Website - Facebook - Twitter - Instagram -  

Since 2002, Women’s Information, Support and Housing In The North (WISHINhas been helping women in Melbourne’s north to create the life they deserve. WISHIN provide specialist support across two service systems: Homelessness and Family Violence. They support those experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, homelessness. Many of the women they work with experience housing crises due to family violence. They work with a Trauma Informed Practice to provide a holistic wrap around support which acknowledges the complexity of issues women and children face in their lives. Run by women, for women, WISHIN provides a safe, compassionate service for overcoming trauma and getting lives back on track.
Website -




WHO QualityRights E-Consultation -
Complete the questionnaire

The WHO QualityRights initiative is working to improve access to quality mental health services globally and to promote the human rights of people with mental health conditions and psychosocial, intellectual, and cognitive disabilities.  As part of this initiative they are developing a good practice guidance document which will present information on community-based mental health services that promote human rights and the recovery approach. 

By completing the questionnaire you will have the opportunity to submit up to five mental health services that you believe should be considered as a good practice.  By participating, you can contribute to shaping the future of mental health services.

Anybody who is involved in providing a service, has experience of using a service, or knows of a service is welcome and encouraged to complete the questionnaire.

Submissions are due 30 June 2019.

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Occupational Therapy Australia 28th National Conference and Exhibition - Early bird registration closing soon!

Occupation Therapy Australia’s 28th National Conference and Exhibition will be held this year from 10-12 July 2019 at the International Convention Centre in Sydney. The National Conference is the largest, most significant professional gathering of occupational therapists in Australia, bringing together over 1,000 like-minded peers from around the country and overseas. It provides fantastic opportunities for networking and professional development, with access to the latest in healthcare products and technology at the Trade Exhibition—this year over 90 exhibitors will be in attendance.

Key note speakers for 2019:

- Leigh Sales, Author and Journalist
- A/Prof.  Natasha Lannin, Occupational Therapist
- Dr Alison Gerlach, Occupational Therapist
- Prof. Gail Whiteford, Occupational Therapist & Sylvia Docker Lecturer

Early-bird registration closes 7 April 2019 – be sure to register by this date to take advantage of the discounted rates!

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Consumers Health Forum - ‘Healthy Cover’ Insurance Guide

Next Monday, 1 April 2019, private health insurance begins the most extensive changes in recent years. The Consumers Health Forum of Australia has compiled Healthy Cover, a guide that aims to provide an easy-to-understand overview of the changes and point you to more detailed information.  
They hope that the information in this guide will help members, consumer representatives and the consumer members and networks they work with to work through the changes and assess what best suits their needs. 

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2019 Workplace Mental Health Symposium

With 1 in 5 people suffering from mental illness, the impact and cost to our workplace is increasing at an alarming rate. Organisations are struggling to influence positive change in workplace mental health – and it’s the leaders who are responsible for prioritising the conversation. To start the conversation and make change happen, you deserve access to the latest tools and knowledge to build a thriving organisation by providing support to your people. Building a culture of well-being starts at the 2019 Workplace Mental Health Symposium.

The Symposium will be held on 2-3 September at Mercure Brisbane.

Speakers include:
- Dr Kathryn Turner, Clinical Director, Mental Health and Special Services, Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service
- Prof Tony LaMontagne, Professor of Work Health and Wellbeing, Deakin University
- Dr Jennifer Bowers, CEO, Rural & Remote Mental Health (R & RMH)

- Ms Rhonda Brighton-Hall, CEO and Founder, mwah (Making Work Absolutely Human)

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Certification framework and national standards for digital mental health services - survey closes April 26

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission), is scoping the development of a certification framework and national standards for digital mental health services. Certification of services has the potential to build user confidence, increase adoption rates, and increase consumer choice in digital mental health services. The certification framework will support ongoing safety and quality assurance for digital mental health services, including those listed on the Australian Government’s digital mental health gateway Head to Health. The Commission will report to the Australian Government Department of Health in June 2019 on options for certification and national standards for digital mental health services.

They have launched their online survey (via Survey Monkey) for anyone who wishes to provide feedback but can’t make it to one of the workshops. The survey is open until Friday 26 April.
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One Door Mental Health Symposium - ‘Thought Leaders of Today’

Each year, the One Door Mental Health Symposium brings together some of the leading researchers, thought-leaders, advocates, consumers and carers to share the latest in mental health treatment and management. This year’s symposium is focused on the Thought Leaders of Today. One Door’s Symposium is the perfect platform to launch national Schizophrenia Awareness Week and they welcome Tony Stevenson, CEO for the Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia to launch the national SAW2019 campaign.
The Symposium will be held on Saturday 18 May 2019 from 9am – 4pm (registration desk opens from 8:30am), with networking canapes & drinks from 4pm - 5pm, at the Aerial UTS Function Centre
in Sydney.

The keynote speaker for 2019 is Mental Health Australia Board Member, Janne McMahon OAM, 2018 Australian Mental Health Prize Winner.
Read more




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