CEO Update: Eight minutes of non-partisan politics – ‘working to zero’

Eight minutes of non-partisan politics - ‘working to zero’

Yesterday afternoon there was a unique anomaly during Question Time in the House of Representatives of the 46th parliament of Australia: eight minutes of non-partisan politics on two key issues.

First, and following the meeting between the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition on Wednesday, was the issue of Indigenous recognition within the constitution, a potential future referendum, and following up on the Uluru Statement from 2017. 

A timely topic ahead of NAIDOC celebrations next week, a conversation that is well and truly overdue, and clearly something all sides of politics want to, and need to address.

Answering the question from Anthony Albanese, Scott Morrison acknowledged the shared intent on the issue of an indigenous voice in the constitution, and then quickly pointed to the pressing issue of Indigenous youth suicide, particularly in remote Australia.

In his own words, Prime Minister Morrison said:

The Leader of the Opposition and I will follow that same pursuit. But I will also say that, as important as this issue is, the priority for my government, right now, is addressing the terrible curse of Indigenous suicide in remote and Indigenous communities. This is heartbreaking. The rates of Indigenous suicide in remote and regional communities is just unthinkable, but it is real. The program we have announced to address that and funding that we have provided in the budget, I know, are supported by the opposition. I also thank the former Leader of the Opposition for his support on these initiatives. We will continue to work each and every day towards zero. That must be our goal. The fact that young Indigenous Australians see taking their life as the way forward is heartbreaking for every member of this chamber.

When the Prime Minister finished, the Opposition Leader rose to congratulate the Government on its commitment to reduce suicide and ‘work each and every day towards zero’.

I thank the Prime Minister for his answer and thank him for the spirit in which he’s reached out to the opposition to work, particularly, with the new minister.

Enter Minister for Health The Hon Greg Hunt MP, answering a question from colleague, Member for Fisher, Andrew Wallace MP.

My question goes to the Minister for Health. Would the minister please outline to the House what this government is doing to address the tragedies in relation to youth suicide, mental health and eating disorders? 

I want to thank the member for Fisher, who has been a passionate and tireless advocate for action on mental health, youth suicide, and in particular eating disorders. Born of his own familiar with this challenge, he has helped deliver the first national eating disorder centre, endED, which we’re supporting with $6 million. But that has become a pilot for a network of eating disorder residential treatment facilities around the country…..

We know the challenge: 404 young lives were lost, in the last full year for which we have figures, to their own hands, tragically. One in four young Australians suffer some form of mental health challenge in any one year. More broadly, over the course of our lives almost half of Australians will have some form of mental health challenge, whether it’s anxiety, depression, bipolar, schizophrenia or so many other conditions. These things are of profound importance and, to take the Prime Minister’s lead, they bring together this chamber, this parliament, our parties and all of those whom we represent.

So, yes, we’re supporting that, but this challenge brings this whole parliament together. We can save lives and protect lives, and we have to work towards zero.

And once again, the Leader of the Opposition was quick to rise, respond and carry on in the non-partisan vain. 

Just briefly, we stand with the government on addressing this terrible scourge facing young people with regard to mental health issues, and I congratulate the government on a range of its initiative, including the increased funding for headspace.

What does this all mean? And why is it important for our advocacy efforts as a sector? For me, it’s all about timing, as clearly there is intent on all sides of politics to work together ‘towards zero’, their words, not ours.

For months we’ve been saying the timing is right for real reform. The Productivity Commission Inquiry will land right in the middle of this 46th Parliament, and it’s our job as a sector to ensure it lands in a political environment that is ready to listen, but more importantly ready to turn words into action.  

Or in the Prime Minister’s own words…

… continue to work each and every day towards zero. That must be our goal.

Warm regards,

Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer


Sign the joint statement on LGBTI mental health

Mental Health Australia has recently joined 42 other organisations in signing on to the Thorne Harbour Health, Rainbow Health Victoria, and Switchboard Victoria initiated joint statement calling on the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System to consider LGBTI mental health, and outlining six key areas for action. The joint statement will be attached to Thorne Harbour Health, Rainbow Health Victoria, and Switchboard Victoria’s joint submission to the Royal Commission.

Read the statement here

Congratulations to Dr Gabrielle O’Kane, CEO of the National Rural Health Alliance

Congratulations to Dr Gabrielle O’Kane on her appointment as CEO of the National Rural Health Alliance, succeeding Mark Diamond. We look forward to working with Dr O’Kane, and wish Mark all the best. 

Congratulations to Robert Fitzgerald

More congratulations to Robert Fitzgerald on his appointment as the inaugural NSW Ageing and Disability Commissioner. He has completed outstanding work as a Commissioner on the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Veterans Compensation and Rehabilitation, and we wish him every success in his new role.

Join the Mental Health Australia team

Mental Health Australia has an opportunity for a passionate Policy Officer to join our team in Canberra, on a full-time basis. Reporting to the Manager, Policy and Projects, you will be responsible for the drafting of policy documents and project materials. This will involve analysis of existing data sources to inform strategies, policy, and programs on a range of mental health issues in consultation with Mental Health Australia members and other relevant stakeholders.

Read more about the job description here


Mental Health News

Aussies demand a solution to homelessness crisis

The Salvation Army has released new research showing a whopping 75 percent of the community would be willing to pay more tax if the extra revenue went directly to eradicating homelessness. The research also shows there are concerns that not enough has been done to address the issue of homelessness in the last 10 years, with 52 percent of respondents indicating they think the situation has, in fact; worsened.

Read more

La Trobe helps build NDIS capabilities

La Trobe University has received funding to develop practical resources to help National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) providers meet their regulatory requirements and deliver consistent, high quality services to those living with disability. The funding was announced this week by Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the Hon Stuart Robert MP

Making it easier for veterans to access support

Improvements to how veterans and their families access services and support will continue with funding committed for the ongoing transformation of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) secured until 2021. Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester said improvements made to-date meant that veterans and their families, in many cases, are now able to get almost immediate decisions on claims through DVA’s online platform, MyService.

Read More

Improving the governance of South Australia’s mental health services

The SA Mental Health Commission will be expanded to include Commissioners with lived experience as part of a plan to improve the governance of South Australia’s mental health services. Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the expansion of the SA Mental Health Commission formed part of the State Government’s final response to an independent review into the effective governance of mental health services, which was released this week. 

Read More

Mental health Royal Commission public hearings begin

Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley says Victorians touched by mental health will be the first to tell their stories as public hearings for the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System start at the Melbourne Town Hall today. The Royal Commission is the first of its kind in Australia to address our broken mental health system. 

Read More



On Monday of next week, Harry Lovelock, Director of Policy and Projects will be attending a SuperFriend Program Committee Meeting in Melbourne

Tuesday, Harry will be meeting with Angus Clelland, CEO of Mental Health Victoria

And on Friday, the Mental Health Australia team will be celebrating NAIDOC week by holding a morning tea in the office and discussing this year’s theme Voice. Treaty. Truth. 


Member Profiles

The Australian Association of Social Workers is the professional representative body of social workers in Australia, with more than 10,000 members. It was formed as a national association in 1946 and has since supported its members through the profession’s many developments and changes. Today, nine branches and a vibrant community of national committees and practice groups support the work of the Association, who cater for the professional needs and interests of our social work members practising in a diverse range of fields, employment and locations.
Website – Facebook - Twitter -


Carers ACT is a not-for-profit organisation and the peak body for carers in the ACT. Their purpose is to nurture, connect and empower carers through a wide range of practical, emotional and social programs. Carers are partners, spouses, children, family, friends or neighbours who assist someone who has a disability, is ageing or has an ongoing mental or other illness. Carers provide informal, unpaid help with daily living activities. Carers ACT is a proud member of the National Network of Carers Associations. They are a non-government, not-for-profit Company Limited by Guarantee that relies on public and private sector support to fulfil their mission with, and on behalf of, carers.
Website - Facebook - Twitter -



Orygen survey on My Health Record - update

Are you between 14 and 17 years old, or the parent, guardian or carer of a 14-17-year-old? Orygen would like to hear from you in a short online survey! My Health Record is a digital platform that stores your health information. From the age of 14, you can take control of your own Record. 

Orygen are currently looking for 14-17 year olds and parents, guardians and carers of 14-17 year olds to share their views. These surveys will help them learn about what you already know, what you would like to know, and how you would like to get that information. They should take under 10 minutes to complete.

Young people can access their survey here. By completing this survey you enter a draw to win one of ten $50 flexible gift vouchers (does not apply for parent/guardian survey). 

Parents can access their survey here.

Read more

Mental Health Foundation Australia: Art Competition 2019

The theme of MHFA’s art competition this year is Mental Health and Wellbeing. Create up to two artworks on this theme and submit in any form - paintings, drawings, photos, computerised images, or another art medium. The top 30 works will be selected by a panel of judges for display at the Consumer Art Exhibition on 4 October 2019. The winners will be announced at the Victorian mental Health Month Launch on 7 October 2019. The winning work will be used to promote National Mental Health Month throughout Australia.

Entry fee: $15

Winner prize: $500

Read more

Video series to spark youth mental health discussion

A new documentary series aims to reduce stigma and spark an open and positive discussion around youth mental health in Australia. ‘The Common Thread’ (6 x 5-8min series) sees Byron Bay filmmaker Darius Devas travel across the nation to meet young Australians from all walks of life, who open up about their mental ill health and share the tools and tactics that have supported their recovery. The series will release on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube via Devas’ production company Being Here and partner networks, including headspace and the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health every Tuesday from July 9 through to August 13.

A trailer is available here

Read more

SANE forums program evaluation

SANE is running a study with the aim to understand the experiences and opinions of people who use the SANE Forums and organisations that work with SANE Australia to host the Forums. This study involves an online survey. It will take approximately 10 minutes to complete. The survey will ask you a range of questions, on topics such as:

  • what are your opinions on your organisation’s partnership with SANE Australia?
  • how are the SANE Forums integrated and promoted within your organisation?
  • how can the SANE Forums be improved

In order to participate in this study, you must meet the following criteria:

  • aged 18 years or older
  • able to read and understand English
  • able to reflect on your organisation’s partnership with SANE Forums (i.e., have significant awareness and/or involvement with the partnership between SANE and the organisation you represent)
  • willing and able to give informed consent.

Read more

National Mental Health Commission Connections Project

The National Mental Health Commission has launched a national conversation on a 2030 Vision for mental health and suicide prevention, known as the Connections project. From this week, the Commission will be visiting communities in 23 cities and towns across Australia during July, August and September for their input into this national conversation. 

Everyone involved in mental health and suicide prevention, especially people with living experience, their carers, families and supporters will be welcome to attend community Town Hall meetings. For those that cannot attend meetings, the Commission will be opening an online survey soon.

NMHC would like to extend the invitation to you to attend and share the Town Hall meetings with your networks.  Please note, as meeting venues are booked, registration becomes available on the NMHC website. 

Read more

Western Australian Mental Health Awards - Nominations Extended!

Due to popular demand, the Western Australian Mental Health Awards nominations for 2019 have been extended! If your organisation wasn’t able to meet the previous deadline, you now have until the
28 July 2019 to submit your nominations.

Read more

Victorian Royal Commission into Mental Health - Hearings

Hearings will run from Tuesday 2 July until Friday 26 July. The hearings will be at the Melbourne Town Hall, except for the following dates:

  • Monday 15 July, the hearings will be held in Maryborough
  • Tuesday 16 July, the hearings will be held at the Aborigines Advancement League Inc in Thornbury

The hearings will run daily between 10am - 1pm and 2pm - 4pm. The venues will be open to the public from 9.45am daily. Anyone can attend the hearings and you don’t need to register. You can also live stream the hearings and access daily hearing schedules, including witness lists. here.

The Royal Commission’s public hearings will include evidence about people’s lived experience of mental illness. This content may be distressing for some viewers, and you might like to consider the supports you have around you as you watch the hearings. Transcripts will be published on this page the day following each hearing, along with witness statements. You might prefer to read the transcripts/statements at a time and in a place that suits you.

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Blue Knot Foundation: Trauma training in July and August

Blue Knot’s trauma training is informative, interactive and engaging. It is facilitated by experienced clinicians and trauma trainers around Australia. Blue Knot delivers 1/2, 1 and 2 day programs. The following courses are running in July and August:

  • Managing Vicarious Trauma - Sydney, 26th July 2019
  • Introduction to Working Therapeutically with Complex Trauma Clients (Level 1) - Newcastle, 30th July 2019
  • Trauma-Informed Care and Practice in Domestic and Family Violence Services (Level 1) - Wollongong, 2 August 2019
  • Trauma Informed Transgender and Gender Diverse Affirmative Care (Masterclass) - Sydney, 12 August 2019
  • Working Therapeutically with Complex Trauma Clients (Level 2) - Three Phased Approach - Parramatta, 15 & 16 August 2019
  • Foundation for Trauma-Informed Care and Practice (Level 1) - Sydney, 21 August 2019

Read more 

Mental Illness, Recovery and Recovery Colleges: Public Forum

MHCC ACT, the ACT Recovery College and the ACT Office for Mental Health and Wellbeing are excited to be offering the opportunity to ACT audiences to hear from the likes of Rachel Perkins - a leader and change-maker in mental health and recovery from mental illness.
Details: Tuesday 9 July 2019, 2:30-5pm Meeting room 6, Level 1, Griffin Centre, 20 Genge St, Canberra City.

Register here.

Read more 

Royal Commission into Aged Care and Quality Safety: Townsville Community Forum

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety invites members of the public to attend a community forum in Townsville, Queensland. Commissioner Lynelle Briggs AO will attend. There will be a chance to give written feedback to the Commission and to talk to Commission staff. A limited number of people will be able to give a brief statement. If you would like to do so please let us know when you register. Guidelines will be provided to all confirmed speakers.

Location: Rydges Southbank, 23 Palmer Street, Townsville, QLD 4810 Date: Thursday, 18 July 2019 Time: 1:30pm to 4:00pm To guarantee a seat, please book your place no later than Tuesday 16 July.

Read more 

The Politics of Mental Health

Why isn’t providing adequate mental health services a no brainer?
With unique insight into the workings of government, and lived experience of mental illness, British journalist and political aide Alastair Campbell has become a leading advocate for action on mental health in the UK. He will be joined by a panel of experts and politicians to share ideas on what can be done to improve mental health service provision and the mental health outcomes of all Australians.
Date and time – Monday 22nd July, from 6:00 pm
Location – City Recital Hall, Angel Place, Sydney
Panellists – Alastair Campbell, Hon Christopher Pyne, Patrick McGorry, Helen Christensen
Tickets on sale here.
Date and time - Tuesday 23nd July, from 6:30 pm
Location – Melbourne Town Hall, Swanstson St, Melbourne 
Panellists – Alastair Campbell, Hon Christopher Pyne, Patrick McGorry, Dee Madigan  

Tickets on sale here.

 Read more 


National Suicide Prevention Conference 2019: Video

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