CEO Update - Life matters for those in urgent need

Anna Siddall

Life matters for those in urgent need

If we see a car accident we stop. We check to see if people are ok. We call an ambulance if we need to. We call the police if we need to. We offer first aid if we can. We try to help. Because we know what to do, and the exact path to follow to get help.

Conversely, what do we do if we see an individual on the street, distressed, dishevelled, and seemingly suffering from a mental illness? An individual on the fringe of the community in which live. Who do we call for help? Do we stop? The answers to these questions are not easy to find and, often make people uneasy. Especially people who want to help but don’t know how.

I had this kind of experience last week, as I rushed to the ABC Studios in Melbourne to record their Life Matters program.

I encountered a man on the bridge that crosses the Yarra. The young man was perhaps in his early 30s, talking to himself quite loudly and aggressively, and pacing up and down the bridge as morning commuters walked on by. Of course it is wrong to judge and diagnose on the spot, but we all know this man, or woman, because we have come across him/her all too often in our community.

Throughout this election campaign there have been many mental health announcements, but nothing I’ve seen would appear to help the man on the street I saw in Melbourne this week.

They are the men and women who for many reasons sadly become invisible to our systems.  But unlike the car crash, these people are too often ignored.

Beyond the obvious personal challenges around the stigma of such encounters, the practical question of ‘how can we help?’ is not so clear. Beyond a warm smile and an earnest greeting, what do we do to help? What services are available? What does this person need at that particular point in time? Who can we call? What path do we follow to get them help?

And that’s the point here: what we’ve seen announced or planned for during this election campaign doesn’t act at all on the urgency needed to support people in similar circumstances.

People who do not need to be taken by ambulance to an Emergency Department. People who should not be taken by police to a watch house. People whose families and carers are likely to be at their wits end and unsupported too. People who need a safe place in the community, perhaps the voice of a peer worker, who need to be gently linked back to other supports, who might just need some time and space to re-group and make their own plans.

This lack of services, programs and supports has been largely invisible in the Election Campaign.

At the moment there is no structure to overcome these circumstance. There is no clear pathway for somebody who wants to help, to follow. There is no outreach to solve the problems on the ground, and despite the many heroic efforts from police, ambulance, community social workers, doctors, nurses, carers and more… there is no clear system, let alone a set of rules to follow, like we have for reporting a car accident, minor or major.

Over the last 20 years or so, our road toll and safety on our roads has been a national focus. And it’s worked in all states and at a national level. From double demerit points on public holiday weekends to slow people down, to national advertising campaigns about seat belts, fatigue, drink driving, texting and more… the multi layered, coordinated state and federal road safety campaign, or a version of it, is what we need for mental health and in turn suicide prevention.

Such a focus might even start to reduce the suicide rate in this country, which as we all know is double the road toll. 

But more importantly, such a focus would create a way for all of us to help the distressed neighbour on the street, and help them find place that is safe, respectful and lasting.

We should reflect on what it means that these issues have not been adequately canvassed in our Federal Election, and we should get a new track quickly to ensure that our political leaders do not turn their backs when the Productivity Commission releases its recommendations about real mental health reform.  

Recommendations that must address these urgent issues, because their life matters.

Warm regards,

Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer

Click below for a video highlight from ABC’s Life Matters


Mental Health Australia’s Election Report Card

At the start of the 2019 Federal Election campaign, Mental Health Australia wrote to leaders of the major parties asking for their commitment to eight key measures as part of our Election Platform. Our Election Report Card provides a summary of the responses as well as list of further general mental health announcements made during the campaign. Click here for the 2019 Election Report Card.

Mental health announcements, final summary!

See below a summary of the many mental health announcements by the major parties so far.

April 13: Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention
“Our $503.1 million Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan is the largest suicide prevention strategy in Australia’s history. It will ensure that government activities are coordinated, services are delivered to young Australians at risk and support is available for friends and families.”
Plan focuses on:

  • Strengthening the headspace network,
  • Indigenous suicide prevention,
  • Early childhood and parenting support.


April 16: New headspace for Katoomba
“The Morrison Government will establish a new headspace in Katoomba to provide innovative mental health support for young Australians in the Blue Mountains.”

April 20: Strengthening Australia’s World-Class Health System
“The Morrison Government’s ‘Plan for Strengthening Australia’s World Class Health System’ will guarantee Medicare, deliver record bulk billing, an additional $31 billion for hospitals over the next five year agreement, $40 billion for new medicines and research backed by our $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund.”
The Liberal Health policy:… 

April 23: $2 million for the National LGBTI Health Alliance 
“The Morrison Government will provide an additional $2 million to the National LGBTI Health Alliance over two years for the peer support telephone and online support service, QLife.”

April 24: Northern Territory health plan
“Funding for Northern Territory public hospitals will triple from $152 million in 2012-13 to $306 million in 2019-20 and further to $467 million in 2024-25, under a new hospitals agreement. We are investing $4.1 billion in Indigenous health over four years, there is record bulk billing in the Northern Territory and more than 2000 new medicines have been subsidised through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.”

May 1: More support for older Australians 
“The Morrison Government will continue to prioritise better support for older Australians by investing in a new targeted research centre, funding a new program to combat loneliness while ensuring the aged care workforce meets growing demand in the future.”

May 4: Record investment into Queensland health services
“The Morrison Government is investing an additional $100 million to support south east Queensland patients with new cancer and mental health services and critical hospital infrastructure.”

May 8: National Action Plan to Improve the Health of Children and Young People
“The Liberal Government launched the first National Action Plan for the Health of Children and Young People 2020-2030 which will improve children and young people’s health by focusing on healthy upbringing, prevention, addressing risky behaviours and childhood mental health.”

  • The strategy will:
  • Improve health equity across populations
  • Empower parents to maximise healthy development
  • Tackle mental health and risky behaviours
  • Address chronic conditions and preventive health
  • Strengthen the health workforce.…

April 17: Labor to invest in community mental health in Higgins
Labor announce $4 million investment in new Star Health Mental Health Community Hub in Prahran 

April 18: Labor’s health plan for the NT
“A Shorten Labor Government will upgrade mental health facilities, fund the purchase of a new Careflight helicopter for Darwin Hospital, and fund major improvements to remote health services as part of a $92 million Northern Territory health package.”

April 23: Labor to establish headspace centre in Gilmore
Labor candidate for Gilmore, Fiona Philips, announced the plan for a headspace centre in Batemans Bay

April 27: Labor pledges $12 million for youth drug and alcohol treatment
“A Federal Labor investment of $12 million will enable the Ted Noffs Foundation to expand its drug and alcohol treatment services for young people.”

April 29: Labor will invest in specialist care for intellectual disability 
“A Shorten Labor Government will improve the health of people with intellectual disability with a $9.5 million investment to tailor health care to their needs.”

May 4: Labor will boost resources for Kids Helpline
“A Shorten Labor Government will provide $6 million to Kids Helpline to ensure that children and young people across Australia can access 24/7 free national counselling and support services.”

May 5: Filling the gaps in our youth mental health system
“A Shorten Labor Government will invest nearly $200 million in headspace Plus – improving youth mental health services and ensuring young Australians don’t fall through the cracks in Australia’s mental health system.”

May 7: Labor will invest in mental health and suicide prevention reform
“A Shorten Labor Government will invest over $1 billion to drive vital mental health and suicide prevention reform.”
Media Release not available online

May 7: Labor will create Australia’s first national plan for eating disorders and body image research 
“A Shorten Labor Government will commit $20 million to create Australia’s first National Plan for Eating Disorders and Body Image Research.”
Media Release not available online

The Australian Greens
18 April: Greens launch transformative youth mental health policy

  • Make services effective, transparent and accessible 
  • Improve access to online services
  • Support young people to help other young people with peer to peer services through providing 1,000 places for peer to peer workers and opportunities for young people to train as peer workers through our free TAFE initiative. 
  • Improve services for young people in crisis by providing $250 million over four years in grant funding for community-based assertive outreach programs targeted at children and young people and improve access to face-to-face services by providing $25 million over the next four years for a trial of 50,000 children and young adults to each access 10 group sessions of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. 
  • Support young people in the workplace by expanding the Individual Placement and Support trial.
  • Reduce mental health stigma by investing $10 million in a youth mental health stigma strategy.

Full policy:…

23 April: Greens launch plan for universal mental health system

  • Make services effective, transparent and accessible. 
  • Fund prevention and early intervention through $500 million in funding over the next decade for communities to implement assertive outreach programs, providing $25 million for a four year trial of 50,000 children and young people to each access 10 group sessions of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and fund online Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for a total of one million users.
  • Support people with severe mental ill health by building a fully funded and adequately staffed NDIS and provide an additional $450 million for community psychosocial services. 
  • Build mentally healthy workplaces through providing $604 million over the decade for mental health workplace interventions in smaller businesses and $50 million per year for three years for mental health interventions in larger businesses and expanding the existing Individual Placement and Support trial.
  • Increase the numbers of peer workers by providing $166 million to fund a two-year national peer workforce trial with 1,000 places.
  • Reduce mental health stigma through an anti-stigma campaign involving those with lived experience.

Full policy:… 


29 April: Greens call for Newstart and Youth Allowance raise
In response to Anglicare Australia’s Rental Affordability Snapshot, Greens release announcement calling for increase to Newstart and Youth Allowance

Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health

Expert Forum: Intergovernmental Arrangements in Mental Health
On Monday, Mental Health Australia and KPMG convened an expert forum on intergovernmental arrangements in mental health. This was a small meeting of experts with experience in navigating the complexities of federal and state governance and finance arrangements across social sectors. Meeting delegates shared their deep experience and expertise in intergovernmental arrangements through robust and constructive discussion. The Productivity Commissioners attended to hear the discussion first hand and played an active listening role, enhanced by asking well-informed questions driving at key policy and implementation considerations. Mental Health Australia will draw on learnings from this forum to inform a supplementary submission to the Productivity Commission about intergovernmental governance and finance arrangements in mental health. We will be circulating some papers following these discussions for broader consideration.

Down Syndrome Australia releases new mental health resource

Mental Health Australia is pleased to alert Members and stakeholders towards a fantastic new resource from Down Syndrome Australia (DSA) to support the mental health of people with Down syndrome. As part of the resource DSA report that people with intellectual disability, including Down syndrome, are two to three times more likely to experience mental illness than people without disability. 

“The reasons behind this are unclear but social barriers, rather than the disability itself, may mean that people with Down syndrome are more likely to experience some of the risk factors for mental illness,” said DSA chief executive Dr Ellen Skladzien.

Find out more at… 


Mental Health Election News

Liberal: Supporting women’s health services

A ‘Mums, Dads and Bubs Check’ to tackle peri-natal depression is at the heart of a suite of initiatives in the Morrison Government’s new Maternity to Home and Wellbeing Program. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his government would invest $36 million to rollout the Check across the country so every parent and baby could access consistent in-hospital perinatal support. The Prime Minister said the Check was part of his government’s push to better support the 100,000 Australians impacted by post-natal depression each year. “This is a cause close to my heart that has hit close to home,” the Prime Minister said.

Read More  

Labor will improve mental health services on the Gold Coast

Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare, Catherine King, Shadow Minister for Ageing and Mental Health, Julie Collins, and Senator for Queensland, Murray Watt, said a Shorten Labor Government will improve access to mental health services on the Gold Coast and reduce pressure on local emergency departments by building a $8 million mental health stabilisation facility near Gold Coast University Hospital.

Read More 

Liberal announce $1 million to support Indigenous people living with dementia

The Morrison Government will provide more than $1 million to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with dementia in remote Western Australian communities. The funding will be provided to Alzheimer’s WA to expand the Building a Better Dementia Response in Indigenous Communities project over the next two years. 

Read More

Liberal announce $14 million adult mental health hub to be established in Townsville

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, and LNP Candidate for Herbert, Phillip Thompson say Townsville will be the location of a $14 million walk-in adult community mental health centre funded through the Morrison Government’s record-breaking $736 million mental health Budget measure. 

Read More

Labor commits more support for Lifeline

Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, and Shadow Minister for Ageing and Mental Health, Julie Collins, say a Shorten Labor Government will provide an additional $500,000 in support to Lifeline, Australia’s 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention service. “This funding will help ensure that more Australians can get support from Lifeline when they need it. Last year Lifeline received 900,000 calls from people at risk of suicide. For many Australians, the call to Lifeline may have saved their life. But because of funding constraints, thousands of calls made to Lifeline go unanswered. That’s why Labor will provide $500,000 to Lifeline.”

Read More

Liberal announce new mental health services for young people and to treat eating disorders

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations, Kelly O’Dwyer, and Candidate for Higgins, Katie Allen, said the Government will allocate $16.5 million to expand mental health services which will benefit the residents of Higgins. A new headspace centre will be established in Glen Iris to support young people dealing with mental health challenges. And a $13 million residential centre for treating eating disorders will be established through the South East Primary Health Network which covers the Higgins electorate. 

Read More

Liberal announce $81.5 million for new cancer, mental health and heart failure services in Western Australia

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, says the Morrison Government will provide $81.5 million to support Western Australians with cancer, mental health issues and chronic heart failure. These new initiatives will improve the lives of Western Australians in need, providing much needed support and hope. Our strong economic management means we can provide record investment in these initiatives, Medicare, public hospitals and medicines, delivering more doctors, more nurses and more services to West Australians.

Read More

Labor to support ‘Turning Point’ addiction program

Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare, Catherin King, says a Shorten Labor Government will invest $13.5 million to deliver Turning Point’s early intervention programs to an additional 20,000 Australians struggling with addiction. 

Read More



On Monday I be meeting with our friends from FECCA including CEO Mohammad Al-Khafaji.

On Tuesday I will be meeting with Christine Morgan, CEO of the National Mental Health Commission.

On Wednesday I will be talking Digital Mental Health with the Digital Mental Health Advisory Group.

On Thursday I will be heading to Melbourne for a couple of days to attend the Annual Issues and Opportunities Workshop with fellow staff and members of the NMHCCF, the National Register and representatives from the Multicultural mental health team.


Member Profiles

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia is the national peak body representing community pharmacy. It seeks to serve the interests of its members and to support community pharmacy in its role delivering quality health outcomes for all Australians. The Guild is committed to supporting and maintaining the community pharmacy model as the most appropriate and efficient system of delivering medicines, medication management and related services to the Australian public. The 5700 community pharmacies across Australia dispense over 300 million prescriptions annually. A major Guild activity at all levels is close liaison and negotiation with governments, manufacturers, wholesalers and other organisations in the health care delivery system.
Website - Facebook - Twitter - 

Australian Red Cross is building a better society based on people helping people.
They save lives and support people before and after disasters strike. They work to alleviate suffering during wars and conflict and promote the laws of war. And they work to assist the most vulnerable community members – no matter their circumstances.
They work with politicians, policy-makers, organisations and the public to improve the situation of the most vulnerable people in Australia and around the world.
They advocate based on direct experience and evidence, and empower people to speak out and take action to improve their lives.
They will always focus on the needs and perspectives of vulnerable people, in their areas of expertise.
They are bound their Fundamental Principles of Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary service, Unity and Universality.
Website - Facebook - Twitter - 



Final call: up to $7000 available for Women’s Leadership Development

Women currently working in the health care sector have a final opportunity to register their interest in a scholarship worth up to $7,000 from Women & Leadership Australia to support participation in an accredited leadership development program. Funding must be apportioned by the end of this financial year and it is unsure when these grants will be available again. Find out more and register your interest by completing the Expression of Interest form here prior to 5pm on June 21.

Read more 

Red Cross launch new My Team app

With nearly half of all Australians predicted to experience a mental illness in their lifetime, Red Cross has teamed up with around 250 people with lived experience of mental health concerns to design My Team, a new free app which makes it easy to ask for help and offer support. 

Read more 

Have your say on the Queensland Mental Health Commission’s activities

The Queensland Mental Health Commission’s Sixth annual ‘Taking the Pulse’ survey is still open.

They have received a strong response to the survey so far, but are still keen to hear your feedback. By participating, you will help inform their activities and priorities going forward.

The survey closes on Monday June 3rd 2019. The survey will take approximately 5-10 minutes to complete and is anonymous. Survey responses will go directly to the survey’s independent administrator, Paxton Partners, for analysis.

Your views and opinions will help shape the mental health and alcohol and other drug systems in Queensland.

Read more 

#MAYDAYS2019 - The Butterfly Foundation Campaign

MAYDAYS for Eating Disorders is Butterfly’s annual awareness and advocacy campaign which takes place nationally throughout the month of MAY. Each year, their campaign draws on the experiences of Australians to highlight key concerns relating to eating disorders, and calls for change! This year, Butterfly conducted a consultative survey asking Australians to share their experiences on caring for a loved one experiencing an eating disorder.

Check out the results of the survey here.

Learn more about the campaign and access resources to support it here.

Read more 

SANE Carers Forum Topic Tuesday - May 21

Join SANE on Tuesday the 21st of May as one of their Youth Peer Ambassador’s (Carer) talks to the community about the challenges of defining your caring role, with a particular emphasis on young carer’s. People from all walks of life are welcome to attend this event.

Read more

Adolescent intervention for clinician working with young people with complex mental health issues - Webinar

Project Air Strategy is collaborating with the NSW Department of Education and NSW Health to provide this free seminar. Project Air Strategy is working to support clinicians working with young people with complex mental health issues through the development of resources and professional development. The webinar will demonstrate use of an adolescent intervention guide for clinicians and focus the discussion on a case study of ‘Britney’ to:

  • Deepen understanding  regarding the management of complex mental health issues
  • Explore effective ways to therapeutically intervene with young people with personality disorder and trauma
  • Identify factors that promote collaboration between schools and health services
  • Facilitate ways to involve family, carers, and the wider community in supporting young people

When: 23 May 2019, 4-5:30pm
Host: Professor Brin Grenyer, Project Air Strategy
Presenters:  - Heidi Page, School Counsellor; Esther Creagh, Child, Adolescent & Youth Mental Health Service; John Dean, District Clinical Leader School Link and Got It! Programs.

This training is targeted for clinicians working with young people across a range of settings, education, health, community services and private practice. Register here

Read more 

NDIA Annual Price Review consultation

The NDIS is inviting feedback on a number of important pricing and policy matters through the Annual Price Review Consultation until Sunday 26 May. Feedback is invited on any aspect of the current price control arrangements, and in particular: the eligibility criteria that should apply to the new Temporary Transformation Payment, and the price control arrangements for:

  • Therapy Assistants
  • provider travel
  • cancellations
  • group and centre-based supports.

Please submit your feedback by email to no later than midnight AEST on Sunday 26 May 2019. Submissions will be reviewed and will inform the recommendations to be considered by the NDIA Pricing Reference Group (PRG) and NDIA Board.

Read more 

MHCC Webinar: Supporting community connection for people with mental health conditions outside of a funded NDIS package

How can Community Workers, volunteers and peers support people living with mental health conditions to have a better life outside of a funded NDIS package? Please join the Mental Health Coordinating Council (MHCC) on May 29th 2019 at 10:30 AM AEST for a one-hour live webinar exploring this question. MHCC has received NSW ILC funding to co-design a Community Education Engagement Package (CEEP) for people that support people living with, or at risk of developing, a psychosocial disability or mental health condition outside of a funded NDIS package. MHCC will host the webinar in partnership with Being and Mental Health Carers NSW. 
Register here

Read more 

FECCA Scholarship Program - Apply now

The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) is seeking applications for the Scholarship Program to attend, and actively participate in, the FECCA 2019 National Biennial Conference – Purpose. Leadership. Progress: FECCA: 40 years and beyond – in Hobart, TAS, on 9-11 October 2019.

Successful recipients will receive complimentary registration to attend the Conference. They will have access to all Conference sessions (excluding the Conference Dinner), explore issues of interest, discuss their emerging ideas with experienced actors in the sector, network, and establish connections for the future.
Read more

Help shape the National Disability Strategy beyond 2020

Australian governments are asking people to help shape the future of Australian disability policy for 2020 and beyond. Ten years ago the launch of the first National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 (the Strategy) paved the way for how governments could help improve the lives of people with disability. At the end of 2020 the Strategy will end and all Australian governments are working together to develop a new strategy for beyond 2020. The strategy is for all Australians and we encourage people with disability, their families and carers to have their say on the priorities and actions of the next strategy.  

The first stage of consultation is from April to June 2019. 

All consultations are accessible for people with disability.

You can have your say through:
• a public survey (from mid-April)
• face-to-face community workshops in every state and territory (from 29 April)
• online forums (from mid-May).

Read more



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