CEO Update from Mental Health Australia: Select Committee’s final report further evidence to build system reform

Foyer of Parliament House

This week the next piece of the reform puzzle was made public. The Select Committee for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention released their final report. Mental Health Australia welcomes this final report and congratulates the Committee on finalising its recommendations. 

We know that many providers and sector leaders made submissions to the Committee and we look forward to hearing from members and stakeholders about your response to the final report. As you know, Mental Health Australia also provided a submission and appeared at the public hearings. 

We note the welcome focus on workforce development, and the specific recommendation in the report to establish a national workforce institute to drive mental health workforce reform. Mental Health Australia has long called for this, and for the funding to establish a national professional association for lived experience (peer) workers as recommended by the Productivity Commission in 2020. 

In addition to workforce developments, the focus in the recommendations includes some system changes (such as the independence of the National Mental Health Commission, better collaboration between Primary Mental Health Networks and Local Hospital Networks, five-year funding contracts for services, a review of what is commissioned nationally or locally, and proposed Medicare changes). 

Further, it includes a focus on digital mental health, commissioning of services for priority population groups (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and LGBTIQ+), elevating mental health in Government processes (such as setting up a House Standing Committee on mental health, ensuring the Deputy Chief Mental Health Officer is present at crisis meetings), and funding for research on compounding mental health impacts of disasters (with a link to climate change).

We note, however, a missed opportunity to recommend an increase in psychosocial services to meet acknowledged need as indicated by the Productivity Commission. This is disappointing as is a recommendation to establish a lived experience office within Government rather than establishing independent peak bodies for consumer and carer leadership. 

The 2021-22 Federal Budget made a significant down-payment towards reform that have been welcomed by the sector. It is time now to get to work on the system reform required and recommended by every recent review, including this one. 

With the release of this report, the Government now has further evidence to include in its plan to implement the Productivity Commission recommendations in full, and further evidence to inform the impending National Agreement for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.

Have a good weekend.

Dr Leanne Beagley

National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum (NMHCCF)and the National PHN Mental Health Lived Experience Engagement Network (MHLEEN) partner with Yale University to a run a transformational leadership development program

The NMHCCF and MHLEEN, through their jointly funded Leadership Program, are partnering with the Yale University Program for Recovery and Community Health (PRCH) to support up to 15 emerging leaders with a lived experience of recovery of mental health to participate in the LET(s)LEAD Academy, a transformational leadership development program. Candidates will have personal lived experience of mental health distress and recovery and are making positive changes in their community or sector or be interested in transformational change.

The virtual course, facilitated by instructors from PRCH, Department of School of Medicine, Yale and guest facilitators throughout Australia, will run from February 2022 – November 2022. The first phase of the course consists of 10-weekly online seminars that cover concepts such as developing a personal vision, transformational change, appreciative inquiry, strategy, and change management.

In the second phase of the course, participants will be matched with the mentorship of a community leader nationally or internationally according to a self-chosen piece of work contributing to the lived experience sector. It is intended that after course completion, participants will provide lived experience transformational leadership within their organisation and within the mental health Lived Experience (Peer) workforce sector within Australia.

Further information and applications forms are available via the NMHCCF website or here.

Inaugural Director, Lived Experience at the National Mental Health Commission

Congratulations to Carrie Lumby, the Commission’s first Director, Lived Experience. She will contribute significantly to developing and achieving the Commission’s strategic priorities moving forward. Carrie brings lived experience perspectives of mental illness, suicide, and substance use, as well as peer recovery and peer work across those areas. She has contributed to state and national mental health and suicide prevention reform, but her input is grounded in local and regional community development work. This position reflects and supports the significant role lived experience has in national mental health and suicide prevention systems reform.


In the week ahead I am looking forward to many catch-up meetings with members of Mental Health Australia thinking through the year past and their priorities going forward. 

In addition, we are meeting as we regularly do with Mark Roddam and team at the Department of Health, I have an Embrace Stakeholder Advisory Committee meeting, I will be attending the Workplace Sexual Harassment National Forum and will be at the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities COVID-19 Health Advisory Group meeting.


Member Benefits, Jobs and Profiles

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Member Profiles


Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA)
Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA) is a leading national peak body and professional association for counsellors and psychotherapists in Australia. PACFA’s mission is to represent the profession to communities and government, and to develop the evidence-base for counselling and psychotherapy.

Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA)
Founded in 1991 Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA), formerly known as the Australian Association for Exercise and Sports Science (AAESS), is a professional organisation which is committed to establishing, promoting and defending the career paths of tertiary trained exercise and sports science practitioners.


Embrace Multicultural Mental Health News

CALD Mental Health Consumer and Carer Group: recruiting now!

The Embrace Project is looking for participants from across Australia who are passionate about multicultural mental health and ready to contribute to the next phase of the project to achieve real change.
As part of the National Consumer and Carer Group you will:

  • Provide insight into multicultural mental health, particularly the views and interests of diverse mental health consumers and carers
  • offer solutions and strategies for improving the outcomes for all people who are living with mental health issues and their carers
  • assist in project implementation and ensuring meaningful project outcomes 
  • support the distribution of national approaches
  • provide links to local multicultural communities
  • review communication and other documents
  • and so much more

Group Members may be eligible for the payment of sitting fees and all travel and accommodation expenses associated with meeting attendance, will be paid for.

Memberships are limited, and to be considered, either complete the online form or download the expression of interest form available here and submit by 11.45pm AEST 7 November 2021.

Successful candidates will be requested to attend the next virtual meeting in early December.

The 2021 Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium 

The 2021 Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium was held online from 3-5 and will continue on 8 November. Leanne Beagley was a keynote speaker on workforce challenges in rural and remote mental health and the place of systemic solutions.

Additionally the Embrace Project Manager Ruth Das has been a Committee member for the symposium will present a paper on ways to ensure rural and remote mental health services are relevant to people from CALD backgrounds, and chair a number of sessions.

COVID-19 Vaccines booster doses

ATAGI recommends that people aged 18 years and over receive a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine six months after they complete their initial two-dose course. Receiving a booster dose will maintain individuals’ protection against COVID-19. Booster doses will be free and available to everyone in Australia aged 18 years and over. Getting a booster dose is not mandatory but it is recommended to maintain immunity against COVID-19. More information about booster doses, including which vaccine is being used for booster doses, is available on the Department of Health website. The Department of Health is in the process of updating all in-language guidance to reflect this recommendation. These resources will be published on the Department of Health website and shared with multicultural stakeholders.

Embrace Australia logo (a rectangle with a light and dark purple cultural stripe pattern with "embrace" and stylised outline of the Australian continent in the lower right corner).


Mental Health News

Make health and safety a permanent part of your workplace culture

This National Safe Work Month, Safe Work Australia asked workplaces across the country to make health and safety a permanent part of their workplace culture by continuing to think safe, work safe and be safe throughout the year. “Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen just how important work health and safety is. Nearly 70,000 people visited the National Safe Work Month website this year, providing a strong indication of Australian businesses ongoing commitment to health and safety at work,” said Safe Work Australia CEO, Michelle Baxter.

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New MBS listing to support patients with major depressive disorders

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) welcomes the new listing of Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) therapy on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS). RANZCP President, Associate Professor Vinay Lakra, said this will increase access to a wider range of Medicare-supported treatment options for people with major depressive disorders.

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Report calls for permanent mental health committee

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was estimated that one in five Australians and nearly half of all adults would experience a mental or behavioural condition in their lifetime, and over 65,000 Australians make a suicide attempt each year. A parliamentary inquiry found that the COVID-19 pandemic and successive natural disasters have amplified social disadvantage, service demands, and the number of mental illness presentations, as well as exposed the limitations of Australia’s mental health and suicide prevention and aftercare service systems. The House Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention has released its final report, calling on the Australian Government to implement reform to address the pandemic-and natural disaster-induced mental health, suicidality, and social and emotional wellbeing crisis.

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Counselling and psychotherapy workforce study finds mental health help untapped

A study of the Australian counselling and psychotherapy workforce has found they are ideally placed to fulfill unmet need of Australians in regional, rural and remote areas who are struggling with mental health. The study, A snapshot of the counselling and psychotherapy workforce in Australia in 2020: Underutilised and poorly remunerated, yet highly qualified and desperately needed is published in the Psychotherapy and Counselling Journal of Australia. 

Read more

Olympians and Paralympians helping kids to be mentally fit

Our Australian athletes overcame unprecedented challenges to succeed at the Tokyo Games, now 20 athletes from 16 sports will help children with their own mental health and resilience strategies as part of a national program between the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and the Black Dog Institute. Designed to help young people aged between 12 and 16, the AIS Black Dog Mental Fitness Program will be delivered by current and former high performance athletes in schools and community sport organisations around the country. 

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New report signals time for action to ensure better patient care

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) has welcomed the final report of the Select Committee’s inquiry into Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. ‘This report brings together the findings from a raft of significant inquiries into mental health held in recent years’, said RANZCP President, Associate Professor Vinay Lakra.

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New insights into suicide and self-harm in Australia

Australians collectively lost more than 145,000 years of healthy life in 2019 due to suicide and self-harm, according to a new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). The report, ‘The health impact of suicide and self-inflicted injuries in Australia, 2019, updates and extends data from the Australian Burden of Disease Study 2018 to calculate the combined impact on individuals of dying prematurely from suicide (the fatal burden) and of injury and illness from self-harm (the non-fatal burden). This is measured using Disability-adjusted Life Years (DALY).

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How does your care fare? Survey

Equally Well in collaboration with Lived Experience Australia (LEA) and Flinders University is asking people with lived experience of mental illness and their families/carers about the discussions their mental health providers have regarding their physical health. Your responses will inform advocacy for holistic care for mental and physical health and wellbeing. The survey closes 18 November.

Reducing Social Isolation for Seniors Grant Program Round Two - only 2 weeks to apply

There are only two weeks left to apply for a Round Two Reducing Social Isolation for Seniors Grant. The NSW Government has $600,000 available to fund projects and programs that address social isolation for older people in NSW, following the success of the first round of grants earlier this year. Grants of $10,000 - $60,000 are available to local councils and not-for-profit organisations that meet the eligibility criteria. Applications close at 5pm on Monday 15 November 2021.

Disability Provider Alert - 3 November 2021

The Department of Health has issued its next COVID-19 vaccination – Disability Provider Alert – 3 November 2021. This provider alert along with other resources and information about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout is available from a dedicated web page for disability service providers on the Department of Health website.

Mental health standards for community managed organisations

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care is developing new standards for community managed organisations working in the area of mental health. The National Safety and Quality Mental Health (NSQMH) Standards for Community Managed Organisations (CMOs) will give assurance to community mental health service users. They will also provide best practice guidance to service providers and developers. The draft standards will be released soon for public consultation. You are invited to register to attend a webinar or focus group during November or December to provide feedback on the draft NSQMH Standards for CMOs. Input will be sought from community managed organisations, consumers, carers, clinicians, service providers and other stakeholders working in this area to help shape the development of the standards before they are finalised and published in 2022. Register to attend an information webinar or focus group.

Consumer survey for improving patient info and consent in clinical trials

Medicines Australia are a member of CT:IQ (Clinical Trials: Impact & Quality,) who are a group of people with a common aim to get Australia thinking smarter about the design and conduct of clinical trials and research studies. CT:IQ is currently undertaking “The InFORMed Project” to simplify the experience of agreeing to participate in research. The project team are seeking opinions from consumers who have and have not participated in a research study. They are particularly interested in hearing from people whose needs may not be ideally represented by mainstream documentation. CT:IQ invite you to complete this 5-minute survey, closing 15 November.

Does your organisation have an internal policy or written guidance on image or language use?

Everymind is currently undertaking a scoping review to inform the development of new guidelines and web-based resources to support image and language use that is safe, inclusive and non-stigmatising. One part of the scoping review is to assess what is currently being used by organisations to guide their own use of language and images to communicate about and portray mental health and wellbeing, mental illness, self-harm, suicidal behaviour and alcohol and other drug use. Mental Health Australia is a member of the project advisory group and asking any members with written guidance or policies on image or language use to contact the project team at Everymind. Learn more about the project and how your organisation can contribute.

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