CEO Update from Mental Health Australia: Major challenges – new and old – are before us

A crowd of people in a market

Major challenges – new and old – are before us

When I moved to Canberra two years ago there were those in my network who warned me about living in Canberra, with vague negative impressions that I have found to be completely incorrect.

It is a designed city, it’s designed to be easy to live in – and it is! There are real seasons. The radio announcers remind you constantly that you are in “the nation’s capital” in case you forget. It only takes 12 minutes to get anywhere. And on the way you get to enjoy beautiful gardens and iconic buildings.

This week in Canberra the 47th Parliament kicked off with appropriate ceremony and theatre. Amongst the first speeches made by the newly elected members was His Excellency the Governor General’s speech as he opened the proceedings.

In case you missed it, here is my favorite section:

Since I last spoke in this chamber, ferocious fires, devastating floods and a once-in-a-hundred-years pandemic have unleashed an extraordinary period of uncertainty, trauma and loss upon our country. 

The past three years have asked so much of so many.

Again and again, Australians have risen to the moment.

Thinking of their communities.

Looking after each other.

In hard times, Australians have been at their caring and courageous best.

Major challenges—new and old—are before us.

In confronting these challenges, this parliament must seek to match the resolve and resilience of the people in whose name you serve.”

Yes…”an extraordinary period of uncertainty, trauma and loss”.

I am hearing from those who read this Friday message each week that accessing support is still really challenging and that there are many who have to wait too long, pay too much or travel too far to find the care they need. I am hearing that many carers and families are still experiencing stress and anxiety as they provide crucial support to those they love and care for. I am hearing that staffing services and providing support is becoming harder, that the workforce is scarce and that it is still exhausting.

Yes…”this parliament must seek to match the resolve and resilience of the people”.

I am continuing to meet with the members of this 47th Parliament, to ensure they are aware of the immediate opportunities they have to improve the mental health of all Australians. Opportunities that we outlined in our government briefing and in the position statements we are developing from our election platform.

We will continue to advocate for the key priorities that are very achievable in the current strategic political and fiscal environment – priorities identified in collaboration with Mental Health Australia’s members through analysis of the as yet unimplemented recommendations of the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health.

May the hope enshrined in this new beginning strengthen your own resolve and resilience.

Have a good weekend – and if you’re in Canberra watch out for the predicted -5 degree morning on Saturday.

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