CEO Update: Grace's legacy is the pinnacle of our working year

Grace’s legacy is the pinnacle of our working year

For more than a decade now the name Grace Groom has been synonymous with Mental Health Australia’s approach to advocacy and reform.

You only have to look at the list of Grace Groom Memorial Orators over the last 12 years to see the calibre of prominent Australians who have delivered the Oration.

An Oration on mental health in our country and communities that year-on-year highlights the achievements we’ve made, and the challenges we continue to face to improve systems and services.

Academics, business leaders, politicians, media personalities, military personnel and mental health sector leaders have all had the opportunity to talk about mental health, to talk about the actions needed, and to talk about how we can all work harder to achieve our vision of mentally healthy people, and mentally healthy communities.

The Grace Groom Memorial Oration has become our preeminent mental health speech of the year, and the timing of this year’s address couldn’t be more poignant as we head into new year with Charter 2020 filled with support for reform and direction, a Productivity Commission Final Report looming, and the National Mental Health Commission’s Vision 2030 on the horizon.

I never got to work with Grace, but over the years I have met many members of her family and it’s lovely they are still involved in this celebration of her work. Grace’s legacy is well known. Her focus on practical and solution based reform for health professionals and consumers and carers is well remembered by many in our sector through her work on the Not for Service Report.

As the CEO of the then Mental Health Council of Australia (MHCA) from 2002 to 2005, Grace sadly passed away in 2006. The then Board of MHCA created the Oration and named it in her honour the following year, alongside an annual Grace Groom Memorial Scholarship for ANU students at the Centre for Mental Health Research.

At Mental Health Australia, some 13 years after Ian Hickie’s inaugural Oration in 2007, the evening and events surrounding it are the pinnacle of our year, and we are looking forward to welcoming more than 120 members and guests to Monday night’s event at the National Press Club, where Productivity Commissioner Dr Stephen King will deliver this year’s Oration.

A key architect of the current PC Inquiry, Stephen and his team have listened and consulted with the sector from the moment the Terms of Reference were announced this time last year, and many of us have enjoyed a strong working relationship with him and his team ever since.

For those who have a booked a ticket for Monday night’s Oration, it will be great opportunity to hear from Stephen about the next steps with the PC Inquiry, and for those who are unable to make it, we plan to include his full speech in next week’s CEO Update.

As for Grace Groom’s legacy, the Scholarship, the Oration and its outcomes are a lasting reminder and constant to all of us. A reminder that if we are looking for generational change, we need to work at it across the generations.

Kind regards,

Melanie Cantwell
Acting CEO

Grace Groom Memorial Oration

In November 2006 the then Mental Health Council of Australia (now Mental Health Australia) agreed to establish a Grace Groom Memorial to pay tribute to the former Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Council, and to extend the debate on mental health in Australia.

Ms Grace Groom became Chief Executive Officer of the MHCA on July 15 2002 and left the Council in early 2005. She sadly passed away in 2006. Her knowledge, energy and enthusiasm gained the respect of all those involved in mental health reform. She had a capacity to marry strong strategic understanding with an appreciation of the practical issues involved in reform for health professionals, consumers, and carers.

Before joining the Council, Grace held the position of National Primary Mental Health Coordinator with the Australian Divisions of General Practice Network and prior to that she was Director of the Queensland Divisions of General Practice Mental Health Support Strategy. She was the driving force behind Queensland Health’s General Practitioners and Psychiatry Partnerships Project; a key player in the development of the National Primary Mental Health Care Initiative, and the Federal Budget measure ‘Better Outcomes in Mental Health Care’. Grace Groom left an outstanding legacy and her contribution to mental health reform in Australia has been recognised by an annual Grace Groom Memorial Oration for more than 10 years now, organised by Mental Health Australia since June 2007.

List of Grace Groom Memorial Orators

2007 - Professor Ian Hickie AM

2008 - The Hon Nicola Roxon MP

2009 - Professor Geoff Gallop AC

2010 - Professor Pat McGorry AO

2011 - Mr Craig Hamilton

2012 - Ms Jessica Rowe AM                  

2013 - Ms Jennifer Westacott

2014 - Vice Admiral Ray Griggs AO,

2015 - Professor Mike Slade

2016 – The Hon Jeff Kennett AC

2017 – The Hon Greg Hunt MP

2018 – Ms Tracey Spicer OAM

2019 - Dr Stephen King

Make a submission to the Productivity Commission now

The Productivity Commission invites interested people and organisations to make a written submission. If you have something brief to say, you may want to make a comment rather than producing a submission. Comments may be used by the Commission to inform its final report. An issues paper was produced to assist participants in preparing a submission to the public inquiry. It outlined a range of issues about which the Commission sought information. 

Opportunity for further comment is now sought on the Draft Report. Submissions are due by Thursday 23 January 2020.

Make a comment

Read the issues paper 

Read more

Productivity Commission hearings

The Productivity Commission will seek further information and feedback following the release of the draft report on 31 October 2019. The Productivity Commission will hold public hearings on the following:

  • 25-26 November - Sydney
  • 28 November - Broken Hill
  • 2 December - Rockhampton
  • 3 December - Brisbane
  • 9 December - Launceston

Adelaide and Darwin public hearings will be held at dates to be advised in early 2020. Please note registrations to attend or participate in the hearings is not open yet. 

Read more

Join the team: Chief Executive Officer of Mental Health Australia

Mental Health Australia has begun recruiting for our new Chief Executive Officer. Reporting to the Board, the Chief Executive Officer provides strategic leadership to promote and meet Mental Health Australia’s aims and objectives and to represent the interests of our members. It is a highly influential role which works closely with stakeholders to advocate for and grow the long-term investment in mental health funding. Engaging with members, consumers and carers and other stakeholders, you will lead the work to advocate for a better mental health system, through improved systems design and interface.

Read the full position advertisement


Embrace Multicultural Mental Health News


Workshops - The Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia

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. 

Embrace Multicultural Mental Health (the Embrace Project) will be holding free workshops around Australia across 2019-2020 to support implementation of the Framework by mental health services, Primary Health Networks, individual practitioners and others. The workshops will provide an overview of the Framework and explore how it can be tailored to best meet your needs and the needs of your local community.

Workshop dates are listed below, along with indicative dates for early 2020 (to be confirmed with all states and territories). Please click here to register for a workshop near you. 

Brisbane, QLD: 4 December 2019
Perth, WA: TBC February/March 2020
Darwin, NT: TBC February/March 2020
Canberra, ACT: TBC



Mental Health News

Online Income Compliance Program Update

The Department of Human Services is making changes to the administration of the online income compliance program. The Department will no longer raise a debt where the only information they are relying on is their own averaging of Australian Taxation Office income data.

New suicide support service for Darling Downs and West Moreton

Providing support for people in the weeks following a suicide attempt is crucial, and a new service is providing just that for those living in the Darling Downs and West Moreton region. The Way Back Support Service, which officially launched this week in Toowoomba, supports people in the critical weeks and months following a suicide attempt. The service, designed by Beyond Blue and commissioned by the Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN, will be delivered by Richmond Fellowship Queensland (RFQ) in Toowoomba and Ipswich.

More support for frontline emergency care staff

A national initiative launched this week to support the time-critical work and informed decision making of frontline hospital emergency department (ED) clinicians through the use of patients’ My Health Record.

With over 22 million Australians now having a My Health Record, a suite of clinical tools and resources released today at the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) 36th Annual Scientific Meeting 2019 will support ED staff using the system to inform clinical decision-making on the frontline of emergency care.

Delivering the NDIS plan: pricing review announced

The Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme Stuart Robert this week announced the commencement of the NDIS Annual Price Review for 2020-21. The review will look at current NDIS price limits and related policies to ensure they continue to be appropriate to the market, to understand where changes may be required and provide recommendations. 

Read more 

Centre of Research Excellence in Suicide Prevention phase two officially launched

Minister for Health Greg Hunt says the Morrison Government has taken another important step in its ‘Towards Zero’ suicide prevention goal, with phase two of the Black Dog Institute’s Centre of Research Excellence in Suicide Prevention (CRESP II) officially launched in Sydney this week. 

Read more 



As I mentioned above, next week is busy one for all of us with a Board Meeting on Monday, followed by the AGM and Grace Groom Memorial Oration at the National Press Club in Canberra.

The Members Policy Forum at Parliament House will be held on Tuesday from 9.30am through to 4.00pm.


Member Profiles

Headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, provides early intervention mental health services to young people age 12-25. Support and assistance focuses on the following core areas: mental health, physical health, work and study support, and alcohol and other drug services. Headspace centres are located across metropolitan, regional and rural areas of Australia and are there to help young people access health workers, psychologists, social workers, counsellors and other kinds of support.
Website Facebook Twitter Instagram

McAuley Community Services for Women provides much needed services for women and their children who are escaping family violence, and for women who are homeless. McAuley was created in 2008, when the Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea joined two of its long-running services – McAuley House (formerly Regina Coeli) and McAuley Care (formerly Mercy Care). Today, they offer three programs for women and their children to help them rebuild their lives:
• McAuley House provides welcoming accommodation for women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and supports them on their journey towards independence.
• McAuley Care provides 24-hour crisis accommodation as well as refuges for women and their children escaping family violence.
• McAuley Works is an integrated and holistic program assisting women who have experienced family violence or homelessness into the workforce.
Website - Facebook - Twitter - Instagram -



Consumers Health Forum Summit 2020 - Save the date

CHF will be hosting the inaugural Australian and New Zealand Consumer Experience and Leadership in Healthcare Summit on 2-3 September 2020 at the International Convention Centre in Sydney. The Summit will offer both organisations and consumers who want to be at the forefront of system change the opportunity to come together to explore, discuss and grow the concept and practice of consumer-centred care. 

The CHF Summit 2020: Shifting Gears will:

  • support the development of consumer leadership skills
  • explore the major policy shifts required to achieve person-centred care systems and services
  • showcase exemplary practice in consumer leadership
  • bring together consumer leaders with clinical leaders, service providers, researchers and key decision-makers.

Read more

Expressions of interest: Co-design team for National LGBTI Health Alliance project

The National LGBTI Health Alliance is undertaking a project funded through NDIS via the Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) Economic Community Participation Disability Grant. The aim of this project is to produce resources for employers within the LGBTI+ sector to promote the hiring of LGBTI+ people with disability. The purpose of the co-design team is to seek insight from the lived experiences of LGBTI+ people with disability to inform better employment practices around hiring LGBTI+ people with disability amongst The Alliance’s membership.

The insights gained from the co-design team will inform the development of a report with a series of recommendations to the LGBTI+ sector in relation to the employment of people with disability. These insights will also inform the production of an employer toolkit which will include policy templates, tip sheets, and good practice examples. 

Read more

Mental Health Victoria: Submission to Aged Care Royal Commission 

‘Better responding to the mental health needs of older Australians should be an integral part of aged care reform.’ This submission calls on the Royal Commission to ensure that mental healthcare is central to its investigations, including through an overarching recommendation to hold a special hearing focussed on mental health service provision for older people with a particular focus on residential aged care facilities.

Read the full submission

SANE Australia think tank events 

SANE Australia are hosting two think tanks that are currently scheduled for the end of November 2019. The goal of the sessions are to explore what resources may be best developed to assist carers/individuals who provide care when a loved one attempts suicide.

SANE will be running two seminars in Sydney (November 25) and then Warrnambool (November 27).

Read more





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