CEO Update: Expanded investment welcomed as the waves of need increase

Expanded investment welcomed as the waves of need increase

The Federal Government’s announcement this week of a $32 million mental health package for Victoria has been welcomed by many, and not just in Melbourne.

The further investment is another example of how clear and quick decisions, and action, during this pandemic are potentially changing the face of our mental health ecosystem.

An ecosystem that is constantly evolving to meet the increased waves of need resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’ve seen it with the increase in tele-health service delivery over the last five months. We’ve seen it with homelessness, and how state governments taking people off the streets to find them short term safety in hotels and motels has shifted the focus and need for additional longer term support.

And now we’re seeing action and investment to address the yawning gap for community based accessible mental health care. Action that will hopefully meet the increased need of those in Melbourne and regional Victoria, where many are entering their eighth week of lockdown and are still uncertain as to how long such restrictions will continue.

At the heart of the announcement is the establishment of nine metro, and six regional clinics in Victoria, that are integrated with existing health services and will aim to provide access to multidisciplinary team support. These clinics have the potential to become a game changer in meeting immediate need as a consequence of the pandemic.

But what if they also become a catalyst for a model to scale up and address the community based mental health services nationwide?

What if they work so well, that we need to roll them out state-by-state to address the need that was already there, as well as the increasing waves of need that we all know are coming?

The tide has turned, and these increased waves of need will be more and more evident as the financial strain, economic and social impact and overall hardship of the pandemic truly reveals itself over the coming months and years.

On the ground, it will be imperative these clinics are established quickly, are well-founded in the Integrated Regional Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plans developed through the Primary Health Networks and local hospital networks, but also fundamentally informed by the leadership and design of consumers and carers. 

To maximise this investment in mental health service expansion, but also the potential to spread these services across the country, we need to be confident the models are effective and that the right evaluation procedures are in place. We also need to measure just how well these clinics can cope with the increased waves, and in doing so calm the tide.

An opportunity for change and reform that before a pandemic could have taken months or even years to get off the ground, establish and evaluate, but now another example of how with common goals between federal and state governments in response to the community need, we can invest in and develop more services and potentially start to really address the gaps that we all know are there.

Have a good weekend.

Leanne Beagley

Thanks to Dr Ruth Vine for today’s Mini Members Policy Forum

A quick thanks again to my friend and colleague Dr Ruth Vine, following today’s successful presentation as part of our Mini Members Policy Forum Webinars via Zoom. As the new Australian Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Mental Health, Ruth’s presentation addressed the fragmentation and integration across the machinery of the mental health system and highlighted her role to provide high level clinical and policy advice to the Department of Health on critical mental health issues.

To see the full presentation, and others in our series of Mini Members Policy Forums please click here.

Special webinar on Monday 31 August at midday:
social prescribing, a script for better living

I hope you can join Consumer Health Forum CEO, Leanne Wells and I for an important webinar on social prescribing on Monday 31 August from 12 midday. 

Social prescribing, the emerging remedy in Australia to counter chronic health problems through support for social therapies, is to be the focus of a special #CHF Talks webinar being presented by Consumer Health Forum and Mental Health Australia.

Social prescribing involves the referral of patients to non-medical activities, ranging from health and fitness programs to movie clubs and meditation.

The webinar comes amid increasing recognition of the value of social prescribing in supporting positive therapies for people experiencing stress and loneliness as a result of isolation during COVID.
The webinar will feature Canadian social prescribing leader, Dr Kate Mulligan, with Australian GP exponent, Dr Mark Morgan, practice leader, Jayne Nelson, and youth health consumer advocate, Georgia Gardner.

To find out more, or to register click on the link below.

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On Monday I’m looking forward to meeting with Margo Lydon from SuperFriend and Catherine Lourey, NSW Mental Health Commissioner.

On Tuesday I’ll be catching up with Christine Morgan, CEO National Mental Health Commission and also with the Department of Health for our regular monthly meeting. Also on Tuesday afternoon I’ll be meeting with Rural Health Commissioner Dr Ruth Stewart.

On Wednesday I’ll be taking part in the second governance and commissioning roundtable being held by The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.

On Thursday I’ll be taking part in the National Peak Bodies Bushfire Recovery Coordination Forum in the morning and then we have a Mental Health Australia Finance And Risk Management Board Committee meeting in the afternoon, followed by a briefing on the “Rural and Remote” Working Group that I chair for the National MH Workforce Strategy Taskforce.

On Friday I’ll be wearing purple for Wear-It-Purple Day and have a Supported Independent Living Workshop with the NDIA in the afternoon.


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. 

Our next webinar will be held on Wednesday 14 October where we will be exploring Module 4: Building a Culturally Responsive Mental Health Workforce. Watch this space for registration details closer to the date.


Mental Health News

“Left out and locked down” The experiences of people with disability and their families during COVID-19

In May and June this year Every Australian Counts asked people to tell them about their experiences during the first wave of the Coronavirus pandemic. They asked what impact the pandemic had on their lives, how they coped and what they thought of the changes made to the NDIS during this time. More than 700 people with disability and their families filled out the survey.

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Suicide prevention support for the building and construction industry

Mental Health Minister Roger Cook says MATES in Construction Western Australia has been provided with more than $520,000 in grants from the McGowan Government through Lotterywest and the Mental Health Commission. 

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#GettingThroughThisTogether provides practical tips to stay connected and mentally well during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic 

The National Mental Health Commission (NMHC) this week announced #GettingThroughThisTogether – a national conversation to support the mental health and wellbeing of Australians as the uncertainty around COVID-19 continues. 

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Carers Australia calls for additional carer payments

Carers Australia has urged the Federal Government to consider providing an additional $750 stimulus payment to carers after the Government announced this week that pension payments would not rise in September as a result of the indexation formula going down. 

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Young Australians facing lifetime of inequality

Shadow Minister for Youth, Amanda Rishworth, says research out this week has emphasised the immense challenges facing our young people as they navigate the COVID recession. 

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We drink more alcohol and most often at home - even before COVID-19 lockdowns

The home is where the majority of Australians who use alcohol have the largest quantity per occasion and drink most frequently, rather than at pubs, clubs or restaurants. The Annual Alcohol Poll 2020: Behaviours and Attitudes (the Poll) found that 67 per cent of Australians who drink alcohol had the largest quantity on one occasion in the past 12 months in the home, which is also where the majority (73 per cent) drink most frequently.

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New program helps forgotten survivors

A James Cook University researcher says a new counselling program run by community volunteers with minimal training appears to rapidly help survivors of bushfires and other disasters overcome trauma. 

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New mental health clinics to support Victorians during the COVID-19 pandemic

Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, says the Australian Government will provide an additional $31.9 million to create 15 mental health clinics across Victoria and further enhance essential support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Alone and at risk: mental health concerns for those in aged care

As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, particularly in Victoria, concerns grow for the mental health and wellbeing impact extended lockdown restrictions and isolation will have on our older population, especially those in aged care facilities.

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NDIS update: Vic and NSW Providers to directly claim costs or PPE

The Minister for the NDIS, Stuart Robert, has announced temporary changes to allow NDIS providers in Victoria and NSW to directly claim the costs of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from the NDIA.

With community transmission of coronavirus evident in both states, and in line with current health advice, the changes will apply to providers who use PPE to deliver essential daily life services to participants.

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Further support for LGBTIQ Victorians facing hardship

Vulnerable LGBTIQ Victorians who are at risk of homelessness or facing financial hardship will have access to greater support, as the Victorian Government continues assisting all Victorians during the coronavirus pandemic.

Minister for Equality Martin Foley has announced $80,000 in additional emergency funding to Drummond Street Services and Thorne Harbour Health to continue their critical services for LGBTIQ people experiencing housing insecurity, unemployment and or other financial difficulties.

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Member Profiles

SANE Australia is a national mental health charity working to support four million Australians affected by complex mental illness. SANE’s work includes mental health awareness, online peer support and information, stigma reduction, specialist helpline support, research and advocacy.
Vision - For Australia to lead the world in mental health within ten years.
Mission - To help all Australians affected by mental illness lead a better life.
Website - Facebook - Twitter -

Central Coast Family Support Services Inc. was established in 1985 and is a not-for-profit community based service supporting families on the Central Coast of NSW. Their programs consist of:

  • Family Support Home Visiting Program for families in the Gosford local government area with children 0 – 12 years.
  • Young Parent Program for young parents and parents to be aged 13 – 19 years, covering the Central Coast.
  • Early Intervention Disability Family Caseworker for families who have a child 0 – 8 years with a diagnosed disability, covering the Central Coast.
  • Grandparent Support Program for grandparents who are the primary carers of their grandchildren, covering the Central Coast.
  • Parenting Educative Program for families with children 0 – 8 years, covering the Central Coast
  • Vision - Central Coast Family Support Services Inc. is committed to a safe and just world in which difference is respected, learning is reciprocal and everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Website - Facebook 



Movember offers $3.5 million for creative ideas to tackle men’s loneliness

Men’s health charity Movember is issuing a $3.5M call out for innovative digital and tech ideas addressing the mental health challenges that stem from social isolation. It’s called the Social Connections Challenge. Through crowdsourcing, the challenge aims to find and develop ideas for new digital or technology initiatives that maintain or strengthen social connections and address isolation in groups of at-risk men.

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United Synergies: StandBy – Support after Suicide

StandBy – Support after Suicide is a program of United Synergies, established in 2002 to meet the need for a coordinated community response to suicide. StandBy is now recognised as Australia’s leading suicide postvention program dedicated to assisting people and communities impacted by suicide.

A recent independent evaluation of the program found that StandBy’s Support After Suicide service helps to significantly lower the risk of suicidality, mental health concerns, and social isolation following a loss of a loved one.

StandBy operates nationally by partnering with local organisations, engaging their expertise within the community to deliver the most effective and culturally suitable support for each individual circumstance. Locally tailored community workshops and education programs are provided to increase awareness of suicide and suicide bereavement to help enable communities to support one another.

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Equally Well webinar: Qld MHCC: Real Time, Real Services – Statewide Practice Change

The Queensland Mental Health Clinical Collaborative (Qld MHCC) is an initiative that brings together adult public mental health services, across Queensland, for statewide clinical practice improvement. Based on collaborative methodology the MHCC supports clinicians to identify topics of statewide importance and work together to make practice improvements.

This webinar will describe the approach of the Qld MHCC and use the current collaborative topic area of “physical health – smoking care” as a real time example to highlight the key components of the initiative.

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CMHA Third National NDIS & Mental Health Conference

The Third National NDIS Mental Health Conference streams explore lived experience, innovation, human rights and the interface. If you are a service provider, service recipient, family member, policy maker, policy adviser, service designer or funder – do not miss this conference. The early bird discount is open until 4 December, 2020.

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Our Site: A website by and for women and girls (15+) with disability

Our Site is by and for women, girls (aged 15 years and above), feminine identifying and non-binary people with disability.

Our Site exists because women and girls with disability asked for it. Women with disability themselves have been actively involved in every stage of the development of the website.

So far, over 100 women with disability across Australia have directly contributed to Our Site through a Project Steering Committee, an Expert Advisory Panel, workshops, user testing and contributing their personal stories.

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Responding to family violence in First Nations families to support children’s social and emotional wellbeing 

Webinar series: Focus on infant and child mental health
Presenters: Craig Rigney, Rachel Abdulla, Tania Sansbury
Facilitated by: Dana Shen 
Details: Wednesday, 9 September 2020 1:00–2:00pm AEST.
This webinar draws on the voices, experiences and knowledge of First Nations practitioners to explore how services can better listen to, engage with, and support First Nations communities. 

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