CEO Update from Mental Health Australia: Wrapping up a big week

At our AGM and annual Grace Groom Memorial Oration on Wednesday this week, there were a hundred guests. All in the same room at the National Gallery. It was such a welcome, warming opportunity to catch up with friendly faces and meet some new ones. These opportunities expanded into the next day, with our Members Policy Forum, which allowed us to have discussions about our hopes for the future, shaping our positions and policy on key mental health reforms and the upcoming federal election in 2022.

There were more guests joining us via Zoom for these events too, invited to ask questions and contribute to discussions. Being able to deliver this event in a hybrid format meant people could join these conversations from across the country. It’s fantastic to have them and their contributions – a best of both worlds.

The Oration, delivered by former Prime Minister and current Beyond Blue Chair, The Hon Julia Gillard AC was truly a highlight of the year. We didn’t manage to get her in person, unfortunately – she was quarantining in Adelaide, another COVID-19 disruption. Despite this Julia was able to deliver her speech by video link and she generously participated in a live Q&A.

Julia spoke about the gains made for mental health over the years, but also the challenges that remained. She diagnosed our system as “fragmented, chronically under-funded and not fit for purpose,” with opportunities to improve our collective health by addressing the many forms of marginalisation that lead to distress. One theme she focused on was gender disparities.

“We need to think differently in the future if we are to reduce the disproportionate mental health burden women face. And of course, we must also acknowledge the toll placed on men – who are over-represented in the suicide statistics – and build a system that works for everyone.”

As Julia reflected, “Right now, Australia is at a reform crossroads.” We are in the enviable position of having bipartisan support for mental health.

Now is the time to leverage that support into real action and commitment, and to do so carefully and diplomatically, to preserve that bipartisanship.

The challenges that lie ahead will take shared commitment as we move forward from the pandemic response into recovery and rebuilding whilst supporting reform and innovation in a system that most desperately needs it.

At the heart of our endeavour in the mental health ecosystem is relationships. At Mental Health Australia we value the relationships with members, partners, funders and stakeholders and we thank you for your great work and your support this year. 

We are looking forward to working with you through the challenges and opportunities ahead. You can also view a video of Oration highlights or the full Oration on YouTube.

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 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.


On Monday I have meetings with Heidi Prowse (MIEACT) and later with Alison Brook (Anglicare). I am also looking forward to my regular meeting with the Co-Chairs of the National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum.

On Tuesday I am meeting with Liz Callaghan from Carers Australia, Darryl O’Donnell from AFAO, and later Laura Collister from Wellways.

Mental Health Australia has just joined the World Federation for Mental Health and I will be talking with Julie Millard who is Australia’s representative on their Board on Wednesday. Later I have the Expert Advisory Group for Occupational Therapy Australia on mental health.

On Friday we are meeting with the National Mental Health Commission about progress with the implementation of the children’s mental health strategy.


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Member Profiles

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R U OK?’s vision is a world where we’re all connected and are protected from suicide.  Our mission is to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with people around them and support anyone struggling with life.

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Lutheran Services
Lutheran Services provides quality and contemporary support and accommodation for older people, young people and their families, those living with disability or mental illness, and people experiencing domestic violence and hardship.  


Embrace Multicultural Mental Health News

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 websiteTranslated resources are available here.

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Mental Health News

New Australian disability strategy welcomed by leading disability representative organisations

Australia’s peak disability representative organisations have lent their support to the new Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021 – 2031 (the strategy) which was released by the Australian Government to coincide with the International Day Of People With Disability. The new strategy – which replaces and builds on the previous National Disability Strategy 2010 – 2020 – is Australia’s national disability policy framework and sets out a plan for governments and stakeholders across Australia to improve the lives of people with disability in Australia over the next ten years.

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New funding to support new and expectant parents 

The Morrison Government continues to support the mental health and wellbeing of new and expectant parents with new funding to expand the National Perinatal Mental Health Helpline. The Government is providing additional funding of $7.8 million over four years from 2021-22 to 2024-25 to Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA), which operates the Helpline. The expansion, funded in the 2021-22 Budget, builds on existing funding to PANDA under the Morrison Government’s Perinatal Mental Health and Wellbeing Program. 

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New data shows younger people and women feeling lonelier than last festive season

New data from Australian Red Cross reveals one in three people feel lonely during the festive season, a significant increase from last year. The annual survey of 1000 people commissioned by Red Cross found it was people in the younger age bracket, 18 - 29, who felt more alone, and more women (40%) said they felt lonely compared to men (26%). The rate of loneliness had increased on pre-pandemic years. 

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Launch of report “Consumer and Carer Experiences of Psychological Services in Australia”

Lived Experience Australia is excited to announce the launch of our report exploring consumer and carer experiences of psychology services in Australia. Psychologists are an integral part of Australia’s mental health care landscape, with approximately 1.26 million consumers accessing the services of psychologists through Medicare each year. Throughout the pandemic, demand for psychologists’ services has skyrocketed. The research aimed to understand psychological service needs of mental health consumers and carers, and provide a collective voice to government and service providers to inform service and policy design.

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Butterfly launches #AnEDLooksLikeMe & releases new research to break down stigma of EDs

Butterfly is proud to launch ‘An Eating Disorder Looks Like Me’ – a Christmas appeal challenging prevailing stereotypes that eating disorders have a specific ‘look’. The reality is that anyone can have an eating disorder, regardless of body shape, age, cultural background, gender, socio-economic status or even eating disorder presentation, and around one million of us do. Underpinning the appeal are the results of Butterfly’s Community Insights research, funded by the Commonwealth government, revealing: 90 per cent of Australians are not confident they could recognise the signs or symptoms of an eating disorder, despite the common misconception that eating disorders have a specific ‘look’; a quarter (25%) of Australians believe eating disorders are a choice and that people could stop their behaviour if they really wanted to; over half (57%) of Australians incorrectly believe only young women are affected by eating disorders.

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Victorians shaping the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act (VIC)

Hundreds of Victorians have had their say on the Andrews Labor Government’s new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act, which will enshrine recommendations from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System into law and help build the state’s new mental health system. The Royal Commission set out a 10-year vision for creating a balanced, flexible, and responsive system that delivers individualised care for every Victorian who needs it, with a key recommendation that the Mental Health Act 2014 be replaced with a new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act by mid-2022. 

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First insights from the National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing, 2020-21

In 2020-21 the Australian Bureau of Statistics conducted the first cohort of the National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing (NSMHW), a component of the wider Intergenerational Health and Mental Health Study (IHMHS). Information collected in the NSMHW will be used to help understand the mental health of Australians, including their use of services and their social and economic circumstances. First insights for 2020-21 are available. More comprehensive statistics will be released in June 2022, including the number of Australians with mental disorders such as depression and anxiety.

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Beyond Blue’s Be You Bushfire Response Program wins national award

In 2020-21 the Australian Bureau of Statistics conducted the first cohort of the National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing (NSMHW), a component of the wider Intergenerational Health and Mental Health Study (IHMHS). Information collected in the NSMHW will be used to help understand the mental health of Australians, including their use of services and their social and economic circumstances. First insights for 2020-21 are available. More comprehensive statistics will be released in June 2022, including the number of Australians with mental disorders such as depression and anxiety.

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More support and relief for mental health carers (VIC)

The Andrews Labor Government is supporting the selfless Victorians who care for a loved one with mental illness or in psychological distress, with a funding boost for mental health carers. Minister for Mental Health James Merlino announced the Labor Government is investing $16.8 million to help Victorian carers, either financially or with relief and respite from their caring roles. The support includes $8.8 million for the Mental Health Carer Support Fund to help more carers pay for expenses related to their caring role and support their own health - whether it’s respite from their caring responsibilities, food and bills for their own family, or supporting their personal wellbeing through exercise or counselling.

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Study into barriers to NDIA Access for people living with Psychosocial Disability

The University of Sydney is conducting a study about the NDIS and trying to understand what stops or makes it difficult for some people, to apply for the psychosocial disability stream of the NDIS. Those with lived experience of mental ill-health and have not been able to or have chosen not to apply for the NDIS, friends or family members and advocacy or service organisations aware of some reasons why people with mental ill-health or psychosocial disability haven’t applied for the NDIS are welcome to participate in the survey.

COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Alert - 7 December 2021

The Department of Health has issued its next COVID-19 vaccination – Disability Provider Alert 7 December 2021. In this update you will find information regarding the provisional approval of Pfizer for 5 to 11-year-olds, the Omicron variant and booster doses, booster rollout via in-reach and other channels, and current vaccination hubs. 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.

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