CEO Update - Everyone Belongs

Everyone belongs

This week is Harmony Week, where the simple message is ‘everyone belongs’… Two simple words, but a concept that is somehow dividing and causing great harm to many.

The timing of Harmony Week couldn’t be more crucial for our community, our nation, and especially our New Zealand neighbours. Following the horrific events in Christchurch last Friday, we asked one of our consumers and carers on the National Multicultural Mental Health Project to help with this week’s blog, and let us know exactly how he was feeling, and how the events of last Friday have impacted his community.

Ali was born in Melbourne after his refugee parents came to Australia in the 1980s, following the Lebanese Civil War. He is 20 years of age, and as you’ll see from his thoughts below shows maturity and clarity well beyond his years. Of course, Ali is just one voice in our community, but I’m sure he speaks for many when he talks about being angry, sad and ‘not surprised’. Here’s hoping his voice, and literally millions more, start to be heard, and start to feel like they belong, because we don’t need Harmony Day or Week to remind us that ‘everyone belongs.’

Warm regards,

Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer


My feelings since the events in Christchurch have mirrored the well-known stages of grief.

My first response when I saw the news on my phone about tragic events in Christchurch was a feeling of numbness. This soon changed to a feeling of ‘a lack of surprise’. This might sound strange, but as someone from Lebanon, I am used to hearing about similar events in Syria, Lebanon and neighboring countries. As someone who now lives in Melbourne, we are not immune to events happening in our city also, nor our New Zealand neighbours.

On hearing the news, I also felt incredibly sad. Really sad.

These feelings soon changed to be touched and even surprised by the large amount of support being vocalized and offered to our community.

We are not used to people in Australia offering our community so much support from all levels of society.

On Saturday night I was privileged to attend the Victorian Premier’s Gala Dinner where there was public acknowledgement from all speakers of Australian solidarity with diverse communities.

I also felt and still feel angry. Angry that it has taken such a horrific event for people to pause to reflect. Angry that we haven’t take enough pre-emptive action to avoid this.

To walk the talk – to see that we all belong to one community. And a reminder that in Harmony Week – this week – the simple message is that ‘everyone belongs.’

The silver lining for me has been that I’ve seen a change this time. Positive change and a change in rhetoric and language. Support and a shared sense of humanity.

The irony is, that this event happened on a day when young people all over the world were protesting over inaction on climate change. Another problem we need to act on. Just like domestic violence, where we keep talking but fail to really act as a community.

We can’t wait for tragedies to happen. We need to act now. We need pre-emptive change from all levels of our community.

We need to pause to reflect, and to feel all these emotions. But then we need to commit to bringing long term change.


Members Policy Forum in Canberra this week

A quick thanks to the all the Members and guests who attended this week’s Members Policy Forum at Old Parliament House in Canberra, for what was once again a busy day of productive discussion, debate and networking for our sector.

With a full agenda including hearing from two Senators, and discussing the upcoming Federal Election and Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health, it was extremely pleasing to see everyone mention just how important a role Consumers and Carers play in the work we do, and the work we need to do more of.

Thanks again to all who could attend this week, and for those who missed it, here’s a little snapshot video of the day.



Productivity Commission Inquiry News

Submissions due Friday 5 April
What has the Commission been asked to look at?

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. Find out more here – with initial submissions due by Friday 5th April 2019


Mental Health News


Government continues funding to support people with mental illness to transition to the NDIS

Minister for Families and Social Services, Paul Fletcher, and Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, said the Liberal National Government is ensuring there are no gaps in supports for clients of Commonwealth community mental health programs as they roll out the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The Government is investing $121.29 million in Primary Health Networks (PHNs) to provide an additional 12 months support for clients transitioning from the following Commonwealth community mental health programs: Personal Helpers and Mentors; Partners in Recovery, and Support for Day to Day Living in the Community.

My advice from the Department is that this funding is aimed at existing providers to ensure disruption is minimised for existing consumers.

Read More

Access to Mental Health Services report released in Victoria

Victoria’s Auditor-General, Andrew Greaves, has today tabled a report in the Victorian Parliament outlining access to mental health services. Nearly half (45 per cent) of Victorians will experience mental illness in their lifetime. Annually, one in five Victorians, or 1.2 million, suffer from a mental illness. Mental illness affects not only an individual’s wellbeing and quality of life, but also their physical health and engagement in employment, education and community. Mental illness also has flow-on effects to the human services, general health and justice systems.
Read More


Morrison Government invites Australians to shape the future of disability policy for 2020 and beyond

Federal Minister for Families and Social Services, Paul Fletcher announced this week that from April, the Australian community can take part in national consultations to shape the future of Australia’s disability policy for 2020 and beyond. The Strategy is a ten-year framework that seeks to drive a more inclusive approach to how all governments design policies and programs so that people with disability can participate in all areas of Australian life.

Read More

Labor plan to build better hospitals

A Shorten Labor Government will invest $1 billion on vital upgrades to Australia’s public hospitals - building new wards with more beds, upgrading emergency departments and theatres, and establishing new palliative care and mental health facilities.

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Health bodies declare aboriginal youth suicide an urgent national priority

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) are calling on the Prime Minister to make tackling Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth suicides a national health priority. Suicide was once unknown to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples but now every community has been affected by suicide. 
Read More




On Monday, I will be participating in a PHNs and National Mental Health Stakeholders Roundtable Webinar. It will be a discussion on the role of PHNs in mental health and suicide prevention commissioning, and working with national mental health and suicide prevention stakeholders (i.e. national peaks, professional associations and national provider organisations). Questions can be submitted via the online chat function. The webinar will be recorded and available for viewing here.  

The NMHCCF Secretariat will be in Melbourne on Tuesday and Wednesday for the NMHCCF face to face meeting, and I will be attending on the Wednesday. 

On Thursday, I will be dialling in to the next National Disability Strategy Reform Steering Group teleconference meeting. While also on Thursday staff members of the National Multicultural Mental Health team will be in Brisbane for the national FASSTT Conference.


Member Profiles

The Royal Flying Doctor Service is one of the largest and most comprehensive aeromedical organisations in the world, providing extensive primary health care and 24-hour emergency service to people over an area of 7.69 million square kilometres. Delivered by a dedicated team of professionals, using the latest in aviation, medical and communications technology, and supported by a vast number of volunteers and supporters, the RFDS is vital for those that live, work and travel in rural and remote Australia.
Mission - To provide excellence in aeromedical and primary health care across Australia.
Website - Facebook - Twitter Instagram -

Wellways Australia Limited is a leading not-for-profit mental health and disability support organisation with services in Queensland, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and Tasmania. Their services span mental health, disability and community care, and reach thousands of people each year. They work with a diverse range of people living with mental health issues or various disabilities, and their families, friends and carers, to bring about positive change and build good lives in their communities.
Website: Facebook:




Mental Health Professionals Network conference in May

Mental Health Professionals Network inaugural online conference for mental health practitioners: Working Better Together will be held 21 May – 6 June. Register for one, two or all three content streams: Mental Health and the Military Experience; Grief and Loss; and Trauma: The Impacts of Adverse Childhood Experiences. Learn more and view the conference program.
Read more

Help celebrate World Bipolar Day on Saturday 30 March

On Saturday 30 March, Bipolar Australia will celebrate World Bipolar Day to help bring the good news about recovery to people affected by the condition, and to educate the community about bipolar. Their motto is “Blow Bubbles for Bipolar”, a fun and easy activity that can be used to celebrate with colleagues, friends, and family. They chose bubbles because people with bipolar who become manic are often described as behaving “bubbly”, while watching the bubbles crash back down represents the depressive phase of the condition.

Read more

Shaping the future of disability policy for 2020 and beyond

The National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 is about creating a more inclusive society that enables Australians with disability to fulfil their potential as equal citizens.

How can you be involved?
The first stage of consultation takes place between April and June 2019. There will be a range of options available to ensure you can have a say. Importantly, all consultation will be accessible to people will disability. You can have your say through:
•    an open public survey (available from mid-April)
•    face-to-face community workshops in every state and territory (beginning 29 April)
•    and online forum (beginning from mid-May).

Read more


Celebrating Harmony Day with Members and guests at this week’s Members Policy Forum in Canberra

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