CEO Update: How can we harness the momentum into 2021?

How can we harness the momentum into 2021?

The Flannel Flower was chosen as symbol for Mental Health Australia because like many native Australian plants, it needs to be adaptable and enduring in order to survive. Traits that certainly sum up how many of us have addressed the challenges of 2020.  A unique year indeed, and a year where we’ve seen the momentum for mental health reform build like never before.

This week was the first time I’ve been in room with the entire team at Mental Health Australia, some six months into the role, and while that really sums up the uniqueness of 2020, it was the reason for the ‘team meeting’ that really drives us at Mental Health Australia, and that was to look ahead… and look strategically at how we can advocate for and with the mental health system. How we can add value for members, our stakeholders and ultimately the people with lived experience of mental illness and their families, friends and carers.

Yesterday we held a fantastic Grace Groom Memorial Oration with Dr Brendan Murphy – via video of course – but again the theme from possibly our future ‘Australian of the Year’ was to work with Government, to present ideas, and to maximise the intent and momentum that exists for lasting and transformative mental health reform.

In Dr Murphy’s own words from yesterday’s Oration…

“I genuinely believe 2021, born out of disruption of 2020, will be a year to be remembered (for the right reasons) for mental health reform.”

It was also pleasing to hear Dr Murphy say…

“Mental Health Australia is highly respected and we see you as a very important stakeholder for the Department…”

So how can we look ahead to 2021 and beyond with hope and optimism? Especially as many of us are only looking forward to having a break over the coming weeks – exhausted as a result of 2020.

For me we have to work together to harness the momentum that is here.

We have to harness the fact that there have been many responsive investments in mental health service delivery, primarily and appropriately directed towards bushfire recovery, suicide prevention and the pandemic response.

Not only have these initiatives helped the one in five Australians affected by mental illness annually, but they have also gone a long way towards helping the sector deal with the increased demand that has endured throughout 2020, and will continue in 2021.

And just like Australia has led the way globally in dealing with the physical health impact of the pandemic, some of the mental health responses have also been world-leading.

These initiatives and investments, coupled with opportunities stemming from the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health, the National Mental Health Commission’s Vision 2030, and the pending Suicide Prevention advice to the Prime Minister are all a clear indication that momentum for lasting reform has well and truly begun.

And I’ll say it again, we just have to harness it now, and work on how ‘we’, the mental health ecosystem, can best advocate for continued and lasting reform.

Have a good weekend. 

Leanne Beagley

Mental Health Australia Annual Report

Following yesterday Annual General Meeting, please find here access to Mental Health Australia’s Annual Report for 2019-20 and Financial Report.

Mental Health Australia Board Elections

As many of you know The Mental Health Australia Ltd Board consists of up to eight elected Directors from the Mental Health Australia Ltd membership and two additional Board-Appointed Directors.

As mentioned at yesterday’s AGM this year’s election was a strongly contested one and we are delighted our Members are so engaged in the governance of Mental Health Australia.

Congratulations to the following people who have been re-elected to the Board of Mental Health Australia and will fill two year terms through to the 2022 AGM:

Mr Jeremy Coggin is the Director nominated by a Carer Member and is from Mental Health Carers Australia,

Mr Mark Orr from Flourish Australia

We also pleased to welcome Mr Heath Fereday, the Director nominated by a Consumer Member from GROW Australia for a 12-month term.

To fill the two-year vacancies, we have Mr Joe Hooper from Rural and Remote Mental Health, and Dr Cathy Andronis from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners as newly elected Board members. Welcome to you all.

Of course we would also like to thank our outgoing Board members Jennifer Bowers and Kym Jenkins for their continued support, counsel and acumen.

Grace Groom Memorial Scholarship Winners

The Grace Groom Memorial Scholarship is a donation by Mental Health Australia in memory of former CEO, the late Grace Groom. The purpose of the scholarship is to provide financial support to international or domestic postgraduate students enrolled in study and research relating to mental health issues.

In 2020, Mental Health Australia is in a fortunate position to be able to award three Grace Groom Memorial Scholarships of $5,000 each to students at the Australian National University.

Congratulations to Isabelle Yujuico, Hannah Sheppard and Rachelle Dawson

Isabelle Yujuico is a PhD candidate at ANU’s Centre for Mental Health Research. Her research focuses on disclosures of suicidal thoughts, exploring factors that affect whether disclosures and responses to them are beneficial or harmful. The research will inform interventions and strategies for suicide prevention and consumer help-seeking. It can also prepare consumers to make disclosures, and carers to respond to disclosures in helpful ways.

Hannah Sheppard is PhD Candidate at the ANU’s Research School of Psychology. Her research aims to measure and describe existing prejudice towards people with borderline personality disorder at an individual, public, and healthcare provider level. This research will improve our understanding of BPD stigma and will inform stigma-reduction efforts and effective interventions to improve the health outcomes for those living with BPD.

Rachelle Dawson is a PhD candidate in clinical psychology and a Research and Clinical Assistant. Her research is in understanding how expressive writing about traumatic experiences can be therapeutic for people showing symptoms of post-traumatic stress. This research will help us understand post-traumatic stress recovery and prevention and individualise treatment approaches, as well as service delivery through telehealth platforms.

Your Feedback is Welcome - World Mental Health Day 2020 Survey

We would like to invite you to participate in a short survey that is being conducted by Kantar Public on behalf of Mental Health Australia. We would love to hear your feedback about your experience with this year’s World Mental Health Day campaign “Look after your mental health, Australia”. Your feedback will help us inform the development of future mental health promotion campaigns.

Also by completing this survey, you will go into the running to win one of three $100 e-gift cards.

The survey will take only 10 to 15 minutes to complete, is completed online and will need to be completed in one sitting. If you would like to complete the survey, please click the link below.

World Mental Health Day 2020 Survey



On Monday I will be meeting with colleagues in Brisbane including David Butt from GROW Australia, Nick Ryan from Lutheran Health Services and Ivan Frkovic, Queensland Mental Health Commissioner.

On Tuesday I have meetings with Jennifer Black from the Queensland Alliance for Mental Health, Paul Martin from the Brisbane North PHN, Nieves Murray from Suicide Prevention Australia and Leanne Geppert from the Queensland Family & Child Commission.

On Wednesday I am looking forward to discussions with Belinda Chelius from Eating Disorders Queensland and Tony Stephenson from MIFA.

On Thursday I am catching up with Karyn Walsh from Micah Projects and Paula Mayson from Open Minds.

On Friday I have a Primary Health Reform Steerng Committee meeting and am also talking with Duncan McLean from the Qld Centre for Mental Health Research at UQ.


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. 


Mental Health News

Join Butterfly’s campaign to fight for Wandi Nerida

Butterfly has launched a campaign that is calling upon Australians to fight for Wandi Nerida, Australia’s first residential recovery centre for eating disorders. Due to a shortfall in funding, Butterfly are in need of $2.5 million to open Wandi Nerida and deliver life-saving care to Australians with severe and complex eating disorders.

Read more

More grateful and less lonely, despite COVID-19

A new Red Cross survey reveals that four in five (78%) Australians feel a greater degree of social connection this festive season than last, despite the disruption caused by COVID-19. The survey also finds more people are feeling more grateful and making extra efforts to connect. However, it also shows almost one in four people (22%) are worried they will feel lonely during the festive season.

Read more

Life after bushfires

SANE Australia has launched a digital bushfire recovery resource called Life After Bushfires, including stories, tools, tips; and opportunities to connect on the Bushfire Forum, a place for people from bushfire affected communities to share knowledge and experiences, ask questions and offer support. 

Read more

New funding to create mentally fit workplaces

The NSW Government has announced 11 organisations will collectively receive more than $500,000 in grants for innovative ideas to help workplaces reduce the impact of mental health issues and to aid recovery. Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello said the Recovery Boost program, administered by the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA), provides up to $50,000 in funding for projects that promote seeking assistance early, supporting an individual’s recovery and reducing stigma around mental health.

Read more

‘Sobering and powerful’: 2020 National Women’s Health Survey results released

With one in three women reporting symptoms of anxiety, one in four experiencing some form of intimate partner violence, and almost three in five women not getting the support they needed after a miscarriage or stillbirth, the Federal Health Minister has described the findings of a Jean Hailes survey as “sobering and powerful”.

Read more

Responding together: Multicultural young people and their mental health

Young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds need tailored mental health services and therapies that are appropriate, effective and culturally relevant, a new report has found. The report, Responding together: Multicultural young people and their mental health, a collaboration between Orygen and the Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY), found that young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds in Australia had a wide range of personal experiences and some could have multiple challenges associated with settling in a new country.

Read more


Member Profiles


Australian Kookaburra Kids Foundation
Australian Kookaburra Kids supports young people experiencing family mental illness through evidence based, age appropriate prevention and early intervention mental health services embedded within a peer-based social and activity-based format.  Our support aims to empower these young people to build resilience, lifelong knowledge, skills and abilities so they can reach their potential.


McAuley Community Services for Women
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).



Partnering public mental health and academia

There is real value in intersecting public mental health and academia. The ANU Centre for Mental Health Research and the ACT Health’s Office for Mental Health and Wellbeing are celebrating collaboration between ACT public agencies and the ANU College of Health and Medicine, with the release for consultation of the 2020 Integrated Atlas of Youth Mental Health Care in the ACT and a Roundtable discussion about future opportunities on Friday 11 Dec 2020, 1.00-2.00pm AEDT by Zoom Webinar

Register here

National Disability Conference Initiative

The Australian Government is inviting applications in an open competitive process to apply for grant funding under the National Disability Conference Initiative (NDCI) 2021-22. The NDCI is delivered as part of the activities supporting the aims in the National Disability Strategy and assists in delivering improved outcomes for people with disability and their carers. There are two categories of grants available under NDCI in 2021-22:
Disability Conference Activity (DCA) provides grants of up to $10,000 to enable disability conference organisers to maximise the inclusion and participation of people with disability at their conferences. Read more

CHF Virtual Summit 2021: Shifting Gears; and Australia and New Zealand Consumer Experience and Leadership in Health Summit

How do health consumers work with professionals in health care to get the best from our health care system? Learn and explore from leaders in health on social prescribing, health literacy, consumer-centred care, consumer-directed researchers and more. Held 18 – 19 March 2021, presenters will be bringing the latest research and ideas from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK, delivered virtually with live and recorded access for all delegates. Early Bird rates end 1 February 2020.

Read more




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