CEO Update from Mental Health Australia: The One Thing We Could Do

Group of young people walking down a suburban street
The One Thing We Could Do

One of the great opportunities in my role is to speak to and with different sector, government and community groups. Last week I had the privilege to be part of a panel discussing mental health reform. The audience was asking curly Q&A questions stretching our thinking and driving a conversation filled with innovation. At one point we were asked what was the one thing we would request in an audience with the Minister which would change the game in mental health.

Great question! How would you answer this?

My fellow panelists had truly great answers. One focused on integration across jurisdictions to prevent fragmentation and duplication and to drive coherence across the continuum of care. Agree ☑. One talked about introducing a national procurement plan for affordable, accessible, suitable housing to end the situation that complicates so many people’s lives and drives despair and disconnection. Agree ☑

But my “one thing”?

Investing in supporting the development of strong and secure early baby-adult attachments is in my view the single most effective way to lay the ground work for a lifetime of mental health and well-being. The evidence and research is clear and unambiguous, and it seems others see this as a priority as well.

More than 300,000 babies are born in Australia each year and giving them the best possible start in life is an important part of building mentally healthy communities of the future. Infant Mental Health Awareness Week Monday 13th June - Sunday 19th June provides an opportunity to draw attention to the fundamental importance of babies’ mental health as well as some to the issues that affect it. Understanding infant mental health starts with seeing the world from a baby’s perspective and the ways they learn to think, feel and experience emotions.

The theme this year is ”Understanding Early Trauma”.

The Parent-Infant Foundation, UK, indicates that “A significant predictor of how adversity will impact a child is the strength and security of their relationship with their parent. Without a nurturing relationship to support them young children experience negative events as more traumatic”.

Understanding the impact of trauma on very little ones, helps us understand how important secure relationships are.

Investing in supporting young families and early relationships is at the heart of prevention in mental health.

Dr Leanne Beagley

CEO, Mental Health Australia


My Diary Next week



Next week, I will be in Darwin for the Indigenous Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Conference and will also meet with a range mental health organisations and service providers. My sincere thanks to Geoff Radford, Executive Officer of the Northern Territory Mental Health Coalition, who has graciously put together an excellent itinerary to complement this visit. We also have a regular catch-up with Suicide Prevention Australia and a Mental Health Australia Board Meeting.

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The Embrace Multicultural Mental Health Project are proud to have had the opportunity to be an exhibitor at the FECCA 2022 - Advancing Multicultural Australia conference - the premier conference on multiculturalism, diversity & inclusion, and migration. 

Day 1 was a big success!

Featured Members
Kookaburra Kids Logo

Australian Kookaburra Kids supports young people experiencing family mental illness through evidence based, age appropriate prevention and early intervention mental health services embedded within a peer-based social and activity-based format. Our support aims to empower these young people to build resilience, lifelong knowledge, skills and abilities so they can reach their potential.

Gidget Foundation logo

Gidget Foundation Australia is a not for profit organisation that provides programs nationally to support the emotional wellbeing of expectant and new parents. Nearly 1 in 5 mothers and 1 in 10 fathers will experience perinatal depression and anxiety that is often hidden and not fully understood. It impacts around 100,000 Australians each year, and suicide is the leading cause of maternal death. 

Mental Health News
New release from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: National framework for protecting Australia’s children Indicators

The National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009–2020 includes measures that report on the safety and wellbeing of Australia’s children.

This release updates data under these two indicator sets. It includes updated child protection indicators, along with a variety of other measures that focus on the safety and wellbeing of Australia’s children.

Read more
New release from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: Child protection Australia 2020–21

During 2020–21, more than 178,800 Australian children received child protection services. Of these children, 68% were the subject of an investigation of a notification of abuse or neglect and about 49,700 children were the subjects of substantiations in 2020–21. At 30 June 2021, more than 46,200 children were in out-of-home care with 91% being in a home-based care placement.

Read more
Australia Post appoints first Chief Mental Health Officer

Australia Post has appointed Simon Brown-Greaves as its first Chief Mental Health Officer. Executive General Manager People and Culture Sue Davies said the appointment is in line with Australia Post’s shift in focus from illness management to illness prevention.

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IP waiver for COVID vaccines misses the mark in vaccinating the world

Medicines Australia say discussions about introducing an IP waiver for COVID vaccines takes precious attention away from more effective actions needed to increase vaccinations in our poorest nations. Medicines Australia CEO, Elizabeth de Somer, says “Instead of political posturing, I urge governments to tackle the real challenges to COVID-19 vaccine access and hold a serious discussion about how we can strengthen global health security together.”

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Royal commission to question Defence Chief and former Ministers at Townsville hearing

The Chief of the Australian Defence Force and two former ministers for Veterans’ Affairs will give evidence at a public hearing of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide, which resumes in Townsville today. The nine-day hearing, to be held at the Mercure Hotel Townsville, will hear from high-profile witnesses including Chief of Defence, General Angus Campbell and former ministers for Veterans’ Affairs, the Hon Andrew Gee MP and the Hon Darren Chester MP.

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Greens announce portfolios ahead of 47th Parliament

The Australian Greens Leader, Adam Bandt, has announced the party’s updated portfolio allocation for the upcoming 47th Parliament, ahead of the first sittings in July. Presented to yesterday evening’s Party Room, the new allocation gives newly elected MPs and Senators the power to progress the issues they were elected to advance, while recognising the years of experience behind the Greens existing portfolio holders. The reshuffle sees Max Chandler-Mather represent the Greens on housing matters, Libby Watson-Brown represent Infrastructure and Transport, and Stephen Bates take on the LGBTIQA+ and Youth portfolios.

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New partnership fires up mental health chats among Aussie men

In 2020, 2,384 men took their own lives, representing around three-quarters of all lives lost to suicide. In spite of this disproportion, only one in four men say they would be likely to seek help from dedicated mental health services when they are doing it tough. Which is why Lifeline Australia and Barbeques Galore are launching a new collaboration from this Men’s Health Week to take action and turn the humble backyard barbie into the opportunity to have life-saving conversations. Barbeques Galore has been side by side with Australians in helping to create the great Aussie BBQ experience for 45 years, celebrating the iconic barbeque and the role it plays in creating social unity and bringing people together to build genuine social connection and hold authentic conversations.

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Rosemary Kayess re-elected to UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

A respected lawyer and academic, Ms Kayess’ candidacy was strongly supported by the Australian Government and Australian organisations of persons with disabilities. She was awarded the Australian Human Rights Medal in 2019 in recognition of her contribution to human rights at home and abroad. Australia is a global leader on disability issues. Australian advocacy played a leading role in establishing the Committee at the United Nations. In her second term, Ms Kayess will advance the Committee’s critical work advocating for the human rights of all persons with disabilities.

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The Queen’s Birthday 2022 Honours List

The Governor-General announced Honours to 992 Australians, including 669 in the General Division of the Order of Australia. Recipients share some common traits - including selflessness, excellence and a commitment to service. They’re from different backgrounds, their stories are each unique, and each has served in different ways. This diversity is a strength and each has impacted their community and made it better. For that, we thank them.  

Among the Honourees were:

  • Ms Anne Lindsey Riches of Killcare – for significant service to community mental health programs and initiatives.
  • The late Mrs Donna Marie Buss, formerly of Walkerville – for service to mental health through therapy.
  • Professor Donna Sharon Cross, of Shelley – For service to youth mental health and wellbeing
  • Dr Suzanne Hazel Dean of Victoria – for service to clinical psychology, and to community mental health.
  • Mr Phillip Jones of South Australia – for service to community mental health.
  • Mrs Vivianne Kissane of Alderley – for service to community mental health.
  • Ms Anne-Maree Newbold of Yarraville – for service to community mental health, and to the disability sector.
See the full list
Mental Health Opportunities and Resources
Public Submissions on the Draft Implementation Plan for the Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Declaration

Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia (GDPSA) is inviting submissions on the draft Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Declaration Implementation Plan (the Implementation Plan).

Submissions close on 15 July 2022.

The Implementation Plan sets out a 10-year plan to implement the Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Declaration (the Declaration). The Declaration outlines 5 key themes to achieve the best possible mental health and SEWB system for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Find out more 
National Rural Health Conference

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 
Research project - how patient groups want to interact with the pharmaceutical industry 

The Patient Voice Initiative (PVI) in collaboration with CaPPRe are looking for participants from a diverse range of positions including representatives of patient groups, patient advisory and support groups and/or online patient community leaders and advocates.

If you are willing and able to participate in this online survey (approx. 25 minutes), please register below.

Focus group ­­– barriers to effective responses to mental health conditions and drivers of antidepressant prescribing

The Department of Health has commissioned Nous Group to undertake a review of the drivers of antidepressant prescribing behaviours, with a particular focus on children and adolescents.

The review will seek to understand what is currently in place to support best practice responses to mental health conditions, the drivers of antidepressant prescribing, and what changes could be made to support more effective responses to mental health conditions.

On Thursday 4 August 4:00-5:00pm AEST, Nous will hold a virtual focus group with representatives from mental health organisations. Due to limited numbers, only 1-2 representatives from each organisation can attend. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact

If you would like to attend, email by Thursday 21 July (CC to register your interest.

What do you need from Services Australia?

Services Australia are trying to find out about the challenges organisations have in getting information they need from the department. They have employed Instinct and Reason, an independent market and social research agency, to help them undertake this research. 

Instinct and Reason are surveying people in different roles from a range of organisations who use and share information about government support services or payments (e.g. fact sheets, news items, brochures, guides or communications kits). In particular, if you have any involvement in marketing or external communications, they would like to hear from you via the survey at the link below. 

Start Survey
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 
National Suicide Prevention Conference 2023

Suicide Prevention Australia’s National Suicide Prevention Conference 2023 will be held over 1-4 May in Canberra. This event provides a gateway to unite suicide prevention experts to showcase evidence-based solutions and robust discussion, focused on solutions for saving lives.

Find out more and register 
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