CEO Update: How nice it is to see and engage with people in person

A few weeks ago I made a decision to return briefly from my home in Canberra to my other home in Melbourne to see my adult children. I was missing them. 

Like many, many Australians, the global pandemic and resulting border closures and lockdowns disrupted my plans and forced me to connect with my family via video and phone for the last four months. It was too long, which was why I needed to go home. 

And while I was in Melbourne I also had the chance for face-to-face meetings with some of our Mental Health Australia membership organisations and stakeholders. 

This week I have been doing the same again in Sydney, and my Brisbane trip is coming up before Christmas with plans to catch up with others across the south, west and north early in 2021.

I don’t need to tell you what a great thing it is, meeting face-to-face. For starters there is no mute button or technology glitches, and for me the real benefit is the opportunity for personal connection, collaboration and the evolution of ideas. Just what we need in our mental health ecosystem as we head into a year of opportunity. 

In these face-to-face conversations over the last couple of weeks I’ve heard about exhausted teams working to sustain their efforts. I’ve heard a great deal about what these teams have learned, and done, in this most extraordinary of years.

I’ve heard about holiday plans that are coming closer. And I’ve heard about challenging economic and personal situations and their impact on organisations and the individuals for whom they provide services and support. 

I have also heard, and talked about, hope for 2021 and for positive strategic change, investment and sector development.  

In the light of the Productivity Commission report and the challenges we have as a sector going forward, now is the time to be building on the collaborative partnerships we have, and to work together. 

Our consumer and carer communities need this more than ever because lasting reform doesn’t just come from coordinated leadership from government — it comes from each of us committing to the power of shared action.

We need to be building on the existing strengths in our mental health ecosystem and using these to work together for change.

Next week the Grace Groom Memorial Oration will be delivered by Dr Brendan Murphy via video conference (the first time ever in its 14-year history) and while this is a change for the organisation, we can only hope that our 2021 Oration will be face-to-face and members and stakeholders will benefit accordingly.

Have a good weekend. 

Leanne Beagley

PS A quick note of thanks to Christine Morgan, Mark Roddam, and Tania Rishniw for today’s webinar discussing the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health and how it will link with the National Mental Health Commission’s Vision 2030. To have more than 50 members of the sector on the webinar today shows just how much interest there is in the next steps, and we look forward to working with you all as we advocate further for these reports and the recommendations within them.

Reminder: Mental Health Australia Annual General Meeting

Reminder that the Annual General Meeting of Mental Health Australia Ltd will be held on Thursday 10 December 2020 at 2.30pm (AEDST). Due to extraordinary circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, and for the continued safety of everyone in our community, this meeting will be held virtually using Redback webinar. A link to the virtual AGM will be sent to all registered members prior to the meeting.

Invitation to the 2020 Grace Groom Memorial Oration with Dr Brendan Murphy - via video webinar

Mental Health Australia is pleased to invite you to the 2020 Grace Groom Memorial Oration to be delivered by Dr Brendan Murphy, Secretary of the Department of Health and former Chief Medical Officer for the Australian Government.

The oration will take place at 3:00pm AEDT on Thursday 10 December, preceded by the Mental Health Australia Annual General Meeting at 2:30pm AEDTTo register for either or both events, please email RSVP by Monday 7 December.

Members Policy Hub and Policy Paper - NDIS Independent Assessments

This week Mental Health Australia published a policy paper on NDIS Independent Assessments. The policy paper highlights several concerns about the proposed process of implementation of NDIS Independent Assessments. The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) is introducing Independent Assessments for prospective NDIS participants and for some current participants at plan review. The NDIA states the assessments will be free and carried out by Independent Assessors with relevant skills and expertise and therefore aim to save prospective participants time and money in gathering evidence to qualify for the Scheme.

Mental Health Australia’s policy paper points out that Independent Assessors, who do not have an existing relationship with the person, and/or who don’t have the necessary skills and experience in working with someone who has a psychosocial disability may not be best placed to assess their functional capacity. In addition, the use of the designated assessment tools and the process for their use runs the risk of an assessment which doesn’t accurately reflect the complexity of psychosocial disability. While the cost-free nature of Independent Assessments addresses a significant financial barrier to NDIS access, it does not address other important barriers faced by people with psychosocial disability.

The policy paper proposes solutions to address these issues, including an offer to collaborate with the NDIA to build flexibility into the assessment process for people with psychosocial disability. Mental Health Australia also makes recommendations around consultation and transparency, embedding a recovery-oriented approach in the assessment process and removing some of the other barriers people with psychosocial disability will face in accessing assessments.

This policy position was developed in collaboration with Mental Health Australia members and consumer and carer representatives through a Members Policy Hub, run in November 2020. Members Policy Hubs are a new Mental Health Australia initiative where short term ‘sprint teams’ are drawn together from Mental Health Australia’s membership to address key current policy issues. 

To read the full policy paper, please click here:
To read more about Mental Health Australia members policy hubs please click here:  



On Monday we have a Board Finance and Risk Management Meeting.

On Tuesday we will be holding a staff planning day as well participating in a coordination meeting for CALD activities across the sector with the Department of Health. Melanie Cantwell will also be attending a second Carers Advisory Group as part of our tripartite project with Carers Australia and Mental Health Carers Australia.

On Wednesday we have an Alliance meeting for the Embrace Multicultural Mental Health Project, a National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum Meeting and we will further work with the RACGP and Consumer Health Forum on our budget submission for national investment in Social Prescribing.

On Thursday we have a Board meeting, our AGM and the Grace Groom Memorial Oration with Dr Brendan Murphy. You can register for these by emailing

On Friday the Mental Health Australia team will be celebrating our year together and marking the Christmas season with a face-to-face lunch in Canberra.


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

New research finds young people in regional Australia as stressed about future as city counterparts

New research has found that over 50% of young people living in regional, rural and remote areas of Australia are worried about their future, however when compared to their city counterparts they are less likely to seek support. In the nationally representative survey of 1000 young people by youth mental health organisation ReachOut, 73% of young people living in metro areas indicated they would talk to someone about their stress about the future, compared to just over 62% of young people in regional, rural and remote areas. 

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International Day of People with Disability 2020: Building back better

Thursday marked International Day of People with Disability, which aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilise support for the dignity, rights and well-being of people with disability. The theme for 2020 is ’Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 world.’

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Help is available, please reach out

Defence personnel, veterans and their families impacted by the ongoing coverage of the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force’s Afghanistan Inquiry are being encouraged to reach out for support. Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said the vast majority of men and women who serve in our Defence forces transition well to successful careers, but some require additional assistance.

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Trainee doctors need mental health support

Access to mental health services is a particular concern for specialist trainees, analysis by the Australian Medical Association has found. The AMA Specialist Trainee Experience Health Check is based on findings from the 2019 Medical Training Survey (MTS) released in February 2020, the development of which was led by the AMA Council of Doctors in Training.

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Mental health support locally grown in Kalgoorlie

Despite the challenges this year due to COVID-19, Grow Local participants have worked hard towards completing their Grow Local Certificate IV in Mental Health, meaning communities throughout Western Australia will have additional mental health support available to those who may be struggling. The program has proven to not only be an effective way of meeting these community needs, but also a popular one, with more than 60 participants graduating in towns throughout the state in the coming weeks.

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GPs need more support in managing mental health concerns

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is urging Government to help GPs care for patients with mental health issues. It comes following the release of the latest edition of the Australian Journal of General Practice, which is published by the RACGP. The December edition features articles on the psychological consequences of social isolation and quarantine, the diagnosis and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic and the psychiatric impact of COVID-19 on healthcare workers.

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Psychiatrists strongly support announcement to make telehealth permanent

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) has commended the Federal Government on the announcement of their intention to make telehealth permanently available to Australians. After strongly advocating for the benefits of telehealth throughout the year, the RANZCP is looking forward to working alongside the government to make this a reality for those seeking mental health treatment, said RANZCP President, Associate Professor John Allan.

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Member Profiles


Australian Counselling Association Inc
ACA is Australia’s premier peak body for counsellors and psychotherapists with over 6500 members. Membership to ACA gives members access to private health fund provider numbers, EAPs, NDIS, Insurance, employment portal and much more. ACA resources are dedicated to advocacy work towards better recognition for the profession.


Marathon Health
Marathon Health is a not-for-profit, registered charity delivering high quality health and wellbeing services to people in country NSW and the ACT. We are one of the few health organisations based in country Australia with the core purpose to identify, deliver and sustain services to people within these communities. We are passionate advocates for equal access to quality health services for people wherever they choose to live. We are a strong voice for rural health: we live here, we work here, and our future is here.



Final Call: Last Chance to Register for Scholarships

Women currently working in the health care sector have a final opportunity to register their interest in a scholarship worth up to $5,000 to support participation in an accredited leadership development program.

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Participate in developing a National Digital Mental Health Framework

The National Digital Mental Health Framework team encourages key stakeholders to participate in one of the upcoming workshops and/or the written submission process for the purpose of scoping and developing a National Digital Mental Health Framework as it is important to capture a diverse perspective in the sector to accurately reflect barriers and opportunities in the digital mental health space.

Further information, including the Consultation Paper click here 

The written submission survey will be open until 11 December 2020 where members of the public and organisations are invited to make an online submission, addressing the questions set out in the Consultation Paper. Survey link

Stakeholders are also invited to participate in one or more of the three remaining sub theme-based workshops. Each workshop will run for 1.5 hours and will address the key questions relevant to a sub-theme as outlined in the Consultation Paper. 

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Take part in the Families Un-locked study on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on family life and relationships

Relationships Australia is partnering with the University of Worcester and Relate in the United Kingdom, as well as Griffith University Australia, in an independent international long-term research study. The Families Un-locked study aims to understand the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on relationships and family life and the influence it continues to have across the globe. Everyone is encouraged to take part in this research and share the survey across their networks.

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New standards for safe and effective digital mental health care

Australia has introduced National Safety and Quality Digital Mental Health (NSQDMH) Standards at a time when the delivery of high-quality mental health care has never been more important. Developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, the new standards describe the level of care and safeguards that a digital mental health service should provide. They will support the delivery of high quality and safe care including counselling, treatment and peer-to-peer support services via telephone, videoconferencing, websites, SMS, webchat and mobile apps.

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