CEO Update from Mental Health Australia: Change, hope and “leaning in”

Jumping group at sunrise
Change, hope and “leaning in”

What a lot of transitional and practical activity needs to go on to move people “out” of government and then bring others “in” to government. A particular challenge I am sure is changing from being an every-day-citizen to becoming a newly elected Member of Parliament! In the United States there are three months effectively in place for an outgoing government and an incoming government to make their transitions. In Australia it seems this whole transition can happen very very quickly. In the midst of a new government stepping out in front of the Aboriginal, Torres Strait Island and Australian flags to speak to the nation, I think a huge change is underway as a result of the election and renewed hope is at the forefront.

Mental Health Australia has written on behalf of the Board and members to the new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to congratulate him. We welcome the new Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler and the new Assistant Minister for Mental Health Emma McBride and are very much looking forward to working with them. We have provided them all with a Briefing and hope to meet with them soon. This week our team has doubled their efforts to ensure that we have connected with new independent and Greens members of the Federal Parliament and we are ready to provide advice when they are ready to hear it. We are connecting with new Ministers in important and related areas such as the NDIS, housing, social services, multicultural Australia, early childhood and Indigenous Health.

At the same time as these leadership changes are underway there has been comprehensive engagement with Reconciliation Week. I have never seen such wide-ranging coverage for example through social media of the messages of reconciliation. This year the message was: Be Brave. Make change

This message is one for us all – it is brave to step into change (or like the children in the photo – jump into it!). 

This week I had the opportunity to address a group of psychosocial service advocates and senior leaders and encouraged them to ‘lean in’ to the opportunities presented through these changes in people, policy and process to advise and inform from their expert perspectives.

It is brave to let go of what we have been comfortable with and sit with discomfort, even when we know we need to do it. Today marks 30 years since the High Court decision in relation to Eddie Mabo and his colleagues action on land ownership, a decision which triggered the doctrine of native title and related legislation. We pay tribute to the brave actions of Eddie Mabo and the community which created positive change for all Australians. We also thank Leilani Darwin for her message in last week’s Update, which modelled incredible courage when she said, “For many years I have made conscious decisions to step up, to be brave and share my lived and living experience of mental ill health and suicide.”

We can take heart and foster hope that the time is right to step up, lean in and be brave in informing and engaging with change. Now.


Read Mental Health Australia’s Government Brief

My Diary Next week

On Monday I am meeting with Alison Brooks, new CEO at Carers Australia and then welcoming our new Director Corporate Services at Mental Health Australia, Sharrin Wells. Later I have a function with the PHN Cooperative CEOs which is an important opportunity to link with them and other stakeholders. 

On Tuesday I am co-convening a new working group the Oceania Mental Health Advisory Committee working together with the World Mental Health Federation to look at mental health issues in the pacific region and options for strengthening our collaboration. I also have the National Workplace Initiative – Content Creation Advisory Group led by the national Mental Health Commission. 

On Wednesday we have our regular meeting with Mark Roddam and his team at the Department of Health and later I have a Mental Health Working Group meeting with the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority. 

On Thursday I am looking forward to presenting to the Mental Health Services Branch team from the Department of Health about the role of Mental health Australia and our work for and with members across the country. I also have a meeting with the NDIA on future arrangements with the sector on collaboration efforts and then a meeting with Golf Australia on opportunities to raise the profile of mental health in that sector. 

On Friday I am meeting with Quinn Pawson, CEO at South Eastern Melbourne PHN and later with Kim McDonnell from Thankful. After that I am meeting with the team from the Australian Institute of Company Directors.


Research into mental health challenges during COVID-19 

Researchers from Monash University and the National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum are seeking participants to complete a survey about Family experiences supporting people with mental health challenges during COVID-19 in Australia.

Please share this survey through your own networks. 

If you would like more information, please email

Take survey

Communicate your news, job vacancies, or upcoming events to more than 5,000 people in the mental health ecosystem weekly.

Mental Health Australia members are invited to send us news, announcements, job vacancies, events or other notices for inclusion in the Weekly CEO Update newsletter. To do so, simply fill out this form by COB each Thursday for your notice to appear in the newsletter.


Department of Health – Translated resources

The Department of Health has developed downloadable, translated resources and information about COVID-19 vaccines in Australia (and more). Access newly developed translated resources on the Department of Health website.

View the resources

Featured Members


Northern Territory Mental Health Coalition is the peak body for community mental health and wellbeing. Our vision is for all Territorians to have the opportunity for the best possible mental health and wellbeing. Our purpose as the peak body is to bring a strong voice for mental health and wellbeing for the Northern Territory.

Mental Health First Aid Australia

Mental Health First Aid Australia is a national not for profit provider of skills-based mental health first aid education. Mental Health First AidTM courses provide participants with the skills, knowledge and confidence to recognise and respond to someone experiencing a mental health problem or a mental health crisis until appropriate professional help is received or the crisis resolves.


Mental Health News

Girls have worse COVID mental health than boys

A new study has found teenage girls were more stressed than boys during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic and more focus should be put on their mental health needs if there is another, similar outbreak.

Read more
Screen time, alcohol & poor sleep for girls: how the pandemic impacts our teens

The first study to comprehensively examine how young people’s health behaviours changed over a two-year period encompassing the COVID-19 pandemic finds both pros and cons. Australian teens had overall improvements in sleep over the two years and some improvements in dietary choices during lockdown, however these were offset by increases in already concerning levels of screen time and worrying trends of alcohol use and poor sleep among girls.

Read more
Australian disability advocates to join UN conference on COVID disability inclusion

A delegation of Australian disability advocates is set to travel to the United Nations in New York next week to work with advocates from around the world on increasing efforts to include people with disability in the next phase of the global response to COVID-19.

Read more
Influenza vaccination fact sheet for people with disability

The Department of Health has developed a fact sheet on influenza vaccination for people with disability. The fact sheet contains national advice and, where appropriate, defers to state and territory guidance.

Read more
RANZCP again calls for focus on mental health in detention centres after death at Villawood

The peak body for psychiatrists is extremely distressed and saddened to hear of the reported death by suicide of a New Zealand woman in the Villawood detention centre and says the death should prompt a greater focus on mental health needs in detention centres.

Read more
New release from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: Myhosp: Admitted patient care – update

Admitted patient care 2020–21 presents key statistics about hospitalisations in public and private hospitals, including information about the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on admitted patient care activity in Australia’s hospitals.

Read more
Pandemic’s impact on individual health and wellbeing is taking its toll

A national study from the University of Wollongong (UOW) has explored the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the lives of Australians. The research examined the relationship between wellbeing and social determinants of health, such as gender, housing, food supply, income, social support, and access to healthcare, among Australian adults during the pandemic. The results of the study found that almost one third of respondents were housing insecure, almost 60 per cent had difficulty accessing healthcare, almost 40 per cent reported poor social support, and over 20 percent identified as being food insecure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more

Mental Health Opportunities and Resources

The 16th National Rural Health Conference will be held at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre on 2–4 August 2022.

The full program for the 16th National Rural Health Conference is now available online. The program includes details of keynote, invited and concurrent speakers. Keynote speakers now include well-known journalist and author Stan Grant.

Find out more 
Kimberley community safety grants now open

Round one of the McGowan Government’s Kimberley Community Action Fund (KCAF) Grants program is now open, supporting regional communities, businesses and organisations to invest in community safety and youth engagement projects. The KCAF is part of the McGowan Government’s $40.4 million investment in juvenile justice and wellbeing projects for the Kimberley. The program will provide $1 million in grant funding this year to support projects which reduce crime, improve community safety and security, provide engaging activities and places for young people at risk of offending, and enhance community empowerment.

Find out more and apply
Nationwide ED opportunity – IgnitED

The IgnitED Fund offers grants of up to $25,000 for the development of the testing of innovative scientific solutions that have the potential to positively impact the health and social and emotional wellbeing of people with eating disorders and/or their loved ones.

IgnitED is an opportunity for those who are living with or have a lived experience of an eating disorder to be part of an important co-design team – to have lived experience-led ideas acknowledged and developed from the ground up to enable positive and improved impact on the lives of others affected by an eating disorder, their loved ones, supports and community.

Find out more and apply
BEING Connected

BEING – Mental Health Consumers is pleased to invite peer workers across NSW to join our inaugural peer worker professional development and networking event: BEING Connected.

Held over two days  – Monday 27 & Tuesday 28 June 2022, at the Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park – this event provides an opportunity for NSW peer workers to learn about professional development and the benefits of connecting with peers. 

There will be multiple guest speakers from throughout the mental health and suicide prevention sectors, including NSW Mental Health Commissioner Catherine Lourey and former NSW Mental Health Commissioner John Feneley (plus more to be announced).

Find out more 
SANE webinar: It’s time to bridge the gaps in Australia’s mental health system

For too long people with complex mental health issues have fallen through the cracks of a failing mental health system. 

On Tuesday 7 June at 2pm, join Lucy Myer, Rachel Green, Dr Owen Harris and Jackie Mead who will share SANE’s renewed vision, new brand as well as provide an overview of SANE’s brand-new digital portal.

Find out more and register 
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