CEO Update - How many redheads do you know?

 CEO Update, Mental Health Australia

Speaking frankly...                                       

How many redheads do you know?

This week marks the one year anniversary of the historic ‘survey’ on marriage equality.

Australians across the country voted overwhelmingly to support the pretty simple idea that any two people could get married. That is, make public commitments to love each other for life, and that these commitments would be recognised by the state.

Notwithstanding the concerns expressed by opponents, it seems the world has not collapsed in the year that has passed since.

On the contrary, many mark the day as an important milestone on a journey to recognise a broader equality. To recognise that regardless of our gender and our sexuality we are all entitled to the same rights, privileges, responsibilities and obligations under the law.

As some of you will have noticed I am a redhead. As long as I can remember, being a redhead has been an integral component of my identity.

From an early age, good-hearted banter and nicknames re-enforced that the rest of the world saw me as a redhead too! (Of all the nicknames I collected along the way, the one I most remember was “blue”, assigned to me by an older tradesman who used to regularly visit our house. I love Australian slang…)

In addition to being the CEO of Mental Health Australia, I am also our LGBTIQ+ Champion.

Wearing that hat, perched precariously on my head of red hair, I spent last week’s “Day of Intersex Solidarity” at a small workshop hosted by an organisation called A Gender Agenda here in the ACT.

The workshop provided an opportunity to spend some time with intersex people, and to deepen my understanding of their lived experience to better understand how I might offer solidarity and support.

Intersex people make up about the same portion of the population as redheads – and that comparison has stuck with me for the week!

I claim no equivalence in experience between being redheaded and being intersex. But when you start thinking about the fact that you have probably met as many intersex people as you have redheads, it starts to become clear (to me, at least) that awareness is lacking.

All this is really a long way of saying that I often use the letters LGBTIQ+ and do so with good will. I largely use the ‘catch-all’ to try and honour the diverse experience of minority groups, who are too frequently excluded from equal access to the rights and privileges, responsibilities and obligations that I mentioned earlier.

The marriage equality debate brought a spotlight to some of those groups, but a year on from that debate last week’s workshop reminded me that we have a long way to go.

My hair colour has never caused me to be the victim of discrimination and neither should people’s gender or sexuality cause them to be victims of discrimination.

We have many steps to take before the journey is completed. But shining a light is one step in overcoming historic prejudices.

Warm regards,

Frank Quinlan

Chief Executive Officer

Tickets selling fast for 2018 Grace Groom Memorial Oration

Tickets are selling fast and still available for the 2018 Grace Groom Memorial Oration to be presented by Ms Tracey Spicer OAM on Monday 26 November at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.

Don’t miss out on the Mental Health Australia event of the year, and what promises to be a great night to catch up with colleagues and friends and hear from a leading advocate for the #MeToo movement.

We hope to see you there. Visit the event page to learn more and to book your ticket.

Come and work for Mental Health Australia

We have an opportunity for a passionate Administration and Project Officer (NMHCCF/ National Register) to join our team in Canberra on a full-time basis. The successful candidate will be responsible for providing admin and project support to the National Mental Health Consumer & Carer Forum (NMHCCF) and National Register of Mental Health Consumer and Carer Representatives.

To be considered for this role you must have demonstrated experience in providing administration and project support requiring a high degree of judgment, initiative, confidentiality and sensitivity.

Visit the webpage for more information and the Position Description.

Next Week

At the beginning of next week, I will be in Perth for meetings, including the final Australian National Advisory Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ANACAD) meeting for the year.

On Friday I will be meeting with the Productivity Commission about the Inquiry into Mental Health.


New research on needs of those with personality disorder

SANE Australia in partnership with the National Mental Health Commission is pleased to share a new research report Understanding how best to respond to the needs of Australians living with personality disorder. The report describes what is known about the prevalence of personality disorders, a review of evidence-based treatments, and the barriers faced by people living with personality disorder in accessing appropriate care. The report puts forward a number of recommendations to improve mental health care and access to support for people affected by personality disorder. 

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Government announces $493 million to support local services for carers

Minister for Families and Social Services, Paul Fletcher, says the Government will provide $493 million to community and not-for-profit organisations to establish a new range of services that will benefit the physical and mental health of Australia’s unpaid carers. These grants will shift the focus of support for carers from the current crisis-driven approach to a new early-intervention model with the mental and physical health of the carer in focus. Applications open tomorrow and close at 5PM (AEDT) on 14 February 2019. Successful applicants will receive funding from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2024.

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More mental health support for new and expectant parents

Minister for Health Hon Greg Hunt MP says the Government will provide $300,000 to support expectant and new parents experiencing perinatal depression and anxiety. Funding will help to expand services to help more parents in regional, rural and remote locations across Australia. 

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Funding awarded for mental health research

Research aimed at curbing suicide-rates among doctors is among three Flinders University projects to receive mental health research grant funding. Breakthrough Mental Health Research Foundation, in partnership with Flinders University, has announced the recipients of its inaugural Grant Round. The funding of up to $25,000 per project will help get research projects and trials up and running and give researchers the time and resources they need to collect data to then apply for larger sums from national and international funding bodies.

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Member Profiles


Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA) is a specialist not for profit organisation that has helped tens of thousands of Australians get vital information and support for antenatal and postnatal depression for over 30 years. PANDA's vision is a community where perinatal depression and anxiety are recognised and the impact on women, men and their families is minimised. Their mission is to reduce the impact of perinatal anxiety and depression – through information, awareness raising and services. 

Website is external)



Mind Blank is a not-for-profit organisation that generates awareness and innovative education of mental health topics in youth across Australia. Their businesses aim is to help reduce the risk of suicide by increasing early identification of warning signs, advocating positive mental wellbeing practices and increasing resilience to help young people understand and cope with adversity.  

Website - is external)



Review of Peer Work Hub - contribute your ideas!

The Peer Work Hub is an online resource for employers who are seeking to grow their mental health peer workforce. The NSW Mental Health Commission is reviewing the content of the Peer Work Hub to make sure its information is accessible and relevant. We invite you to take part in this review by completing a short survey. The Commission will use the results to inform our review of the Peer Work Hub and in our advocacy efforts to grow and strengthen the peer workforce. The survey is anonymous.

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North American Aboriginal approaches to mental health 

Partners in Recovery and Off the Wall invite you to a workshop to learn about indigenous approaches to mind and mental health. The workshop is presented by renowned Canadian scholar and teacher Lewis Mehl-Madrona. This workshop will be helpful to people with lived experience, carers and helping professionals in the Sydney region.

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2019 TheMHS Summer Forum

The next TheMHS Summer Forum will take place in Sydney from 28 February to 1 March 2019. The Forum topic is Community Mental Health Systems: Human Rights and Services and features international and domestic speakers like Professor Pat McGorry and Professor Maree Teesson. To register, visit 

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New digital body image program for boys

The Butterfly Foundation has recently launched Australia's first digital body image program for boys! RESET is a digital education program designed to start a deeper conversation with boys about negative body image and eating disorders. The program supports schools and other youth organisations in raising awareness of body image issues, reducing stigma and encouraging help seeking in boys. 

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LGBTI, marriage equality, gay rights, transexual, redheads, a gender agenda