CEO Update - mental health votes

mental health votes

As you read these words, it is possible the Prime Minister is in C1 (Commonwealth 1) driving down Dunrossil Drive to visit the Governor General, to ask that the Parliament be prorogued and a general election be held. If not now, it won’t be long!

This comes at the end of a week that saw Treasurer Josh Frydenberg release his first Budget. As those of you who read our Budget night summary prepared by the team here at Mental Health Australia, would have seen, the Treasurer said in his speech to the parliament:

Mr Speaker, mental health is an issue of deep concern to all Australians.
It is a national tragedy that we lose so many people to suicide and that so many people live a life of quiet desperation.
Tonight I say: we hear you and we are with you.
This issue demands our ongoing attention and resources.

Since budget night, the Treasurer has given even more speeches, including a National Press Club address, an extract of which is captured here. I implore you to watch the video.

In the video, the Treasurer tells a story that is clearly personal. He seems to be genuinely moved by the story of a colleague who has lived in the shadow of long term depression.

Even if we know there is more to do, even if we feel the Government could have done more, we should all take some comfort that of all the issues available, the Treasurer of Australia chose to address mental health in his first budget address.

I know, personally, of many more Members and Senators from across all sides of Parliament, whose lives have been touched, either directly or indirectly, by mental health issues.

Mental health does not discriminate along party lines. And mental health does not know the difference between an MP and a Senator, an independent or a major party.

As we go to an election, it is easy to be cynical. It is easy to anticipate a campaign that will see many promises made, that will see fact and counter fact traded amongst candidates, which will see earnest interest and consideration given to issues that seem to be easily forgotten once the new Parliament sits again.

So what should we be demanding from this election?

• We should demand costed and written commitments to mental health in coherent standalone mental health policy statements, including action on key priorities such as community based psychosocial support and indigenous suicide.  

• We should demand an election campaign that is conducted without bullying, name calling, trolling and other mentally ‘unhealthy’ behaviours (from candidates, the media, stakeholders and voters alike)

• And, perhaps we should also look for those candidates who have been touched by mental health issues, and who are prepared to share their experience, to do so, just like the Treasurer has done this week.

Democracy gives us a unique power. When the 46th Parliament returns it will be filled with the candidates that we vote for.

So this election campaign, let’s demand action, lets demand personal commitments, and let’s make sure #mentalhealthvotes 


Warm regards,

Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer


batyr and others enjoy important investment for lived experience

Tuesday’s Federal Budget included some unsung funding gems for smaller yet incredibly significant organisations. Organisations doing great work to tackle the many mental health issues on the ground and encourage Australians to be proactive about talking and seeking help.

batyr is one such organisation. Founded in 2011, batyr has worked tirelessly to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and use the stories of those with lived experience to engage, educate and empower young people to talk positively about their mental health and live mentally healthy lives. The announcement of much deserved funding of $2.8 million for batyr is a huge win for those voices of lived experience and also marks the first federal funding commitment ever made to batyr, highlighting the far-reaching impact their team has had since its establishment. 

In batyr’s own words “The funding will go a long way to amplifying the important voices of young people with a lived experience” and enable batyr to grow their extensive peer network, giving young Australians access to positive and destigmatizing resources into the future. 

“Storytelling is at the heart of everything batyr does and we know this model of peer-to-peer contact is effective in changing stigmatising behaviours and attitudes to help seeking. This funding provides an incredible opportunity to amplify the voices of young people and provide a platform for them to be heard on a digital scale.
Nic Brown, General Manager at batyr.

And batyr were not the only organisation to receive such an important funding boost, as the list below highlights:

• $1.2m for Red Dust, working in collaboration with communities to improve the poor health of Indigenous Australians in remote and rural areas
• $1.5m for the Raising Children Network, enabling them to continue providing free, extensive and current parenting advice in the form of videos, articles and apps endorsed by Australian experts 
• $2.5m for Smiling Minds, a not-for-profit organisation providing free and accessible tools to support Australians to cultivate healthy minds at school, in the workplace and in our communities
• $4m for Kids Helpline, Australia’s only free and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5-25 years
• $1.2m for MATES in Construction, allowing them to build on their work in reducing the high level of suicide among Australian construction workers by developing a national framework
• $7m for the Mindgardens Alliance, funding for research aimed at developing improved models of care for Australians living with brain disorders, and to establish a comprehensive brain disorder clinic in Sydney 
• $1.2m for the establishment of a non-clinical suicide prevention and recovery centre in partnership with Roses in the Ocean, an organisation providing resources and support for those with lived experience of suicide.  

Funding commitments that will go a long way to strengthening even further the impactful work of these organisations, and enable them to carry on empowering Australians to talk about their mental health and provide reliable and accessible resources for those reaching out for help. 

Congratulations to new FECCA CEO Mohammad Al-Khafaji

Congratulations to Mohammad Al-Khafaji on being appointed the new CEO of FECCA. Mohammad has been acting CEO of FECCA since November 2018, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with Mohammad in his new role as CEO

Josh Frydenberg’s moving address at the National Press Club 

Watch the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP present a moving anecdote about a colleague with mental health struggles at the National Press Club on Wednesday 3 April.  While I would not describe mental health as a “weakness”, as the consumer in this situation seems to have, it seems clear this was a reinforcement of the message around mental health.

Mental health in the Budget 2019

Watch the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP discuss mental health in his Budget 2019 speech.

Greg Hunt and Frank Quinlan discuss the 2019 Budget

We sit down with The Hon Greg Hunt MP to discuss the mental health initiatives in the 2019 Budget.

Frank gives a summary of the 2019 Budget

In case you missed it, here’s our summary of the mental health initiatives announced in the Budget 2019.



Productivity Commission Inquiry News

Submissions due TODAY Friday 5 April

This Inquiry will examine the effect of mental health on people’s ability to participate in and prosper in the community and workplace, and the effects it has more generally on our economy and productivity.

It will look at how governments across Australia, employers, professional and community groups in healthcare, education, employment, social services, housing and justice can contribute to improving mental health for people of all ages and cultural backgrounds.

The Commission will be consulting widely, including in regional Australia. They are also considering how to most effectively receive input from particular groups such as consumers and carers.


Mental Health News

National Mental Health Commission welcomes budget announcement but there is still work to do

The National Mental Health Commission (NMHC) is determined that the Federal Budget announcements will help fill the “real gaps” which have been identified in Australia’s approach to mental health prevention and intervention. NMHC Chair, Lucy Brogden, said that suicide rates were still on the increase and suicide is now the leading cause of death among 15 to 34-year-olds. 

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Budget lets down First Nations peoples yet again

Given the current crisis of First Nations suicide, children in out of home care and incarceration rates, the Greens say that the budget should have included at the bare minimum the reinstatement of the over $500 million that was cut from First Nations programs through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy.

Clearly we need to be doing much more on indigenous social and emotional wellbeing.

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batyr welcomes $2.8m investment to amplify the voices of young people online

batyr will receive $2.8 million under the Coalition Government to amplify the voices of young people with lived experience of mental ill-health to help their peers. The funding is the first amount of federal funding awarded to batyr and is part of the $460 million dedicated to youth mental health and suicide prevention in the Morrison government’s 2019 budget announcement.

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Better Connected: a national conversation begins on a roadmap for a more modern, digitally connected health system

The Australian Digital Health Agency has on Friday 5 April opened an online consultation for all Australians, including frontline clinicians, consumers, healthcare organisations and the technology sector to have their say on a more modern, digitally connected health system. The online consultation is part of a nationwide series of discussions used to co-design the National Health Interoperability Roadmap, which will agree the standards and priorities required to achieve a more modern digitally connected health system in Australia. The Roadmap is a key priority of the National Digital Health Strategy, which was approved by all states and territories through the Council of Australian Government (COAG) Health Council in 2017.

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National Mental Health Commission welcomes three new members

The National Mental Health Commission (NMHC) is pleased to welcome three new members to its Advisory Board. The Federal Government announced the new members on Friday 5 April - they are Ms Niharika Hiremath and Dr Elizabeth-Ann Schroeder (from 3 April 2019 to 31 January 2021) and Mr Alan Woodward, who will begin on 1 August 2019 until 31 July 2022. Mr Woodward replaces outgoing member, Professor Wendy Cross, whose appointment ends on 31 July this year. NMHC Chair, Lucy Brogden, said Professor Cross had brought passion and hard work to the role and thanked her for her service and contribution. She also said the board was looking forward to working with the new Commissioners.

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Royal Commission into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday 5 April the establishment of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. The Prime Minister said the official signing of the Letters Patent by the Governor-General means the Royal Commission can now commence its important work. 

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On Monday afternoon I’m looking forward to meeting with Rohan Greenland, the newly appointed CEO of Palliative Care Australia.

On Tuesday I’ll be participating in a meeting with the National Multicultural Mental Health Project Alliance.

Wednesday morning, I will meet with Susan Cochrane and Nick Tebbey of Relationships Australia, followed by a Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance CEO Steering Committee Meeting, and then a meeting with Rhonda Galbally AC, Principal Member, Independent Advisory Council to the NDIS.

Thursday sees me travelling to Melbourne to join Angus Clelland from Mental Health Victoria to meet with the Hon. Richard Wynne, Minister for Housing to discuss homelessness interventions, such as the Housing First model for young people aged 15 to 24 with a mental illness at risk of homelessness.                                             

On Friday I am meeting with Barry Sanderson, CEO of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.  


Member Profiles

SANE Australia is a national mental health charity working to support four million Australians affected by complex mental illness. SANE’s work includes mental health awareness, online peer support and information, stigma reduction, specialist helpline support, research and advocacy.
Vision - For Australia to lead the world in mental health within ten years.
Mission - To help all Australians affected by mental illness lead a better life.
Website - Facebook - Twitter - 


The ACT Mental Health Consumer Network is a consumer-led peak organisation representing the interests of mental health consumers in the ACT in policy and decision-making forums. The Network is committed to social justice and the inclusion of people with experience of mental illness. Their aim is to bring about a higher standard of health care in the mental health sector through representation, lobbying and active involvement in new developments in the mental health sector.
Website - Facebook -




WFMH announces 2019 World Mental Health Day theme of Suicide Prevention

This year, the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) has decided to make “suicide prevention” the main theme of World Mental Health Day. The object of making suicide prevention the theme of World Mental Health Day in 2019 is to attract the attention of governments so that the issue might be given priority in public health agendas around the world. World Mental Health day will be celebrated on October 10, and the WFMH will be providing resources throughout the year to help organisations engage with this theme.

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Nominations for the Mental Health Matters Awards 2019 are now open

The Mental Health Matters Awards recognise the outstanding achievements of individuals, groups and organisations that have worked to improve understanding, awareness, service provision and the general mental health of communities in NSW over the past year (2018 — 2019).
The winner of each award category will receive $1000, an engraved award plaquette, and a specially created promotional video. The awards ceremony will be at the Shangri-La Hotel in late September.
Know someone doing excellent work in mental health? You can nominate yourself, a program you work for/with, or a program or person you know.

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Occupational Therapy Australia 28th National Conference and Exhibition - Early bird registration closing this Sunday!

Occupation Therapy Australia’s 28th National Conference and Exhibition will be held this year from 10-12 July 2019 at the International Convention Centre in Sydney. The National Conference is the largest, most significant professional gathering of occupational therapists in Australia, bringing together over 1,000 like-minded peers from around the country and overseas. It provides fantastic opportunities for networking and professional development, with access to the latest in healthcare products and technology at the Trade Exhibition—this year over 90 exhibitors will be in attendance. Early-bird registration closes this Sunday 7 April 2019 – be sure to register by this date to take advantage of the discounted rates!
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Community Sector Banking Churchill Fellowships - Apply now

Leaders in the not-for-profit sector are being encouraged to apply for the new Community Sector Banking Churchill Fellowships that will see them travel the world to observe leading practice and develop new networks. The opportunity to then apply the learnings in a local context could reap big rewards for the sector here in Australia. 

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Funding available for women’s leadership development

Women & Leadership Australia is administering a national initiative to support the development of female leaders across Australia’s health care sector. The initiative is providing women with grants of between $3,000 and $7,000 to enable participation in a range of leadership development programs. Find out more and register your interest by completing the Expression of Interest form prior to 7th June.

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Certification framework and national standards for digital mental health services - survey closes April 26

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission), is scoping the development of a certification framework and national standards for digital mental health services. Certification of services has the potential to build user confidence, increase adoption rates, and increase consumer choice in digital mental health services. The certification framework will support ongoing safety and quality assurance for digital mental health services, including those listed on the Australian Government’s digital mental health gateway Head to Health. The Commission will report to the Australian Government Department of Health in June 2019 on options for certification and national standards for digital mental health services.

They have launched their online survey (via Survey Monkey) for anyone who wishes to provide feedback but can’t make it to one of the workshops. The survey is open until Friday 26 April.
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SANE and Everymind launch #StigmaPledge campaign

SANE Australia and Everymind are pleased to announce the launch of their #StigmaPledge campaign on Thursday 4 April, 2019 in Canberra. They will be encouraging all Members of Parliament, candidates and political journalists to agree to sign the #StigmaPledge and uphold a standard of speech that adheres to the Mindframe guidelines during the 2019 Federal Election.

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Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan Consumer and Carer Survey now open for responses

The National Mental Health Commission (NMHC) is pleased to announce that the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan (Fifth Plan) Consumer and Carer Survey 2019 is now open for responses.

The NMHC is surveying consumers and carers on the performance of mental health services in the past 12 months, to help them understand if the implementation of actions under the Fifth Plan is translating into genuine improvements in their care.

The survey will remain open until 30 April 2019. 

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20th Resilient Australia Awards 2019 submissions now open

The Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience has announced that submissions for the 2019 Resilient Australia Awards are now open. The awards celebrate and promote initiatives that make communities safer and better prepared for hazards and emergencies. The awards are celebrating 20 years and the AIDR hope to see a wide range of projects submitted from across Australia, in both rural and metro contexts that highlight mental health initiatives. Submissions are open in every state and territory until 17 May. 
The Resilient Australia Awards are sponsored by the Australian Government in partnership with the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience and the states and territories.

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