In the final CEO blog for the year, before we close the office and take some well-deserved annual leave it’s a good time to reflect on our work this year.
Among other work, Mental Health Australia has:
- Lobbied for every election issue to be considered a mental health issue (now reform issues).
- Called for a suicide reduction target of 25% by 2025
- Brought members together for policy development and discussions from psychosocial to workforce issues
- Provided submissions with our members on topics ranging from school chaplaincy to the royal commission on defence and veteran suicide
- Launched our inaugural Report to the Nation
- Held our most successful Advocacy Day ever, bringing the mental health sector to Canberra to speak with 65 members of parliament
- Encouraged Australians to look after their mental health during October as we recognised World Mental Health Day
Mental Health Australia’s World Mental Health Day theme of awareness, belonging and connection also emerged in the Report to the Nation findings.
The first Mental Health Australia Report to the Nation revealed that there are many things to celebrate in terms of the mental health and wellbeing of Australians. For the most part, the research showed that we are a happy and socially connected nation that support one another and have things in our lives to look forward to.
Troubling trends emerged when the research looked at priority populations – especially First Nations Australians, LBGTQIA+ and people living with a diagnosis of a mental health condition. While worrying, these results provide opportunities for strengthening support.
At this year’s Grace Groom Memorial Oration, the inimitable Noel Pearson called for all Australians to take responsibility for ensuring a voice to Parliament for First Nations Australians. A voice that is fundamental because recognition is the starting place for self-esteem and the freedom for indigenous people to become ‘a modern version of ourselves’.
Noel’s humble and moving speech and the Report to the Nation findings remind us of the importance of kindness and connectedness – especially at this time of the year and with the added pressures of increasing living costs and global issues.
Finally, the Minister for Health released the evaluation of Better Access Initiative this week and at the same time announced the discontinuation of funding for the additional sessions provided under COVID support measures. Mental Health Australia supports Minister Butler’s commitment to engage the sector in 2023 to discuss the evaluation and its impact going forward. However, cancelling the additional sessions without an alternative pathway for people with more complex mental illness is a real concern.
As the national peak, we look forward to working with those with lived experience and those that love and care for them, our members, the sector, and governments to ensure there is equitable access for all as well as identifying and removing barriers to accessing that appropriate care.
It has been another big year. To all our subscribers across the mental health sector and beyond, thank you for your work and tireless commitment to your communities.
I hope you all enjoy a peaceful and restorative time with those most important to you.
We look forward to seeing you and working with you in the New Year.