CEO Update - More and more faces to help celebrate World Mental Health Day

 CEO Update, Mental Health Australia


Speaking frankly...                                       

More and more faces to help celebrate World Mental Health Day

I saw thousands of faces during Mental Health Week, but one will stand out for a long time to come.

This year we celebrated World Mental Health Day 2018 in the Bunnings carpark in Wagga, together with the local Riverina community, to shine a positive light on mental health and help to reduce stigma.

From 5:30am, more than 70 local community organisations joined in with the ‘Can Do’ attitude of the Bunnings staff to set up for our Official Guinness World Record Attempt – ‘For the most people in a high visibility vest in a single location’.

In a community effected by drought, this was community action at its best – from the local Mayor and council, mental health organisations, sporting clubs, the Murrumbidgee PHN, Army personnel, the RAAF, and many more, coming together to celebrate community resilience and strength.

Triple M Riverina broadcast live from the event, with a local personality as MC and Pip and Richard from The Healthy Tradie Project leading the morning stretches and yoga session, as people (and some dogs) lined up for coffees and the world famous Bunnings sausage sizzle.

As the crowds began to increase, a solitary gentleman (I’ll call him ‘Dave’) arrived early, but declined my offer to register for the event, and said he was ‘just having a look’. 

We were giving away a hi-vis vest and mental health promotional materials packed in a Bunnings bag.

As the crowd continued to swell, and the registration desks got busier, I noticed Dave again, slowing to take another look. But he once again he declined my friendly invitation to register for the event. 

I was curious now, but was also engaged with the stream of children, retirees, tradies, military personnel, emergency services volunteers, the entire staff of a local veterinary clinic, and many more filing through to join in the event.

A long queue had formed at the coffee van and the folks from Riverina Bluebell were turning out sausage sandwiches in vast numbers to raise funds for their cause. The carpark was filling up and then I noticed Dave swing by the registration desk for a third time. 

‘Better get your hi-vis on’ I said smiling. ‘Everything you need is in this bag mate, nothing else to do.’  Dave clearly wanted to be part of the event, but was hesitant. He was one of the first to arrive, and had been walking about for nearly an hour by now.

“Is it free?” he asked.

My heart broke. I realised the reason Dave had been standing off was because he did not have the means to pay for a registration, and had been walking past our desk to try and work out if payment was even required.

“It’s free mate, come and join us” I said.

Dave happily donned his hi-vis vest and joined the throng for a fantastic event which may not have set a new world record, but did manage to gather more than 1,000 people from a small community together to help share an important message about mental health.

Our Wagga event was just one of many across the country on Wednesday 10 October, to celebrate World Mental Health Day. 

This year more than 700 organisations joined the campaign as communities from Bateman’s Bay to Broome gathered together to talk about mental health. 

Thousands more made promises online to act and support their own mental health or the mental health of others. And by 3pm on Wednesday afternoon I had driven back to Canberra and was at Parliament House arguing for more, and better investment in mental health services and programs.

We have so much left to do to ensure that mental health issues receive the same level of attention and investment as any other health condition.  We have so much more to do to build the kind of community connections that can protect and heal.

I don’t know if Dave had a history of mental health issues.  I don’t know if Dave had a family member or a friend affected by mental health issues.  But I do know that Dave wanted to play his part in promoting better mental health, despite his modest means.

So as we re-double our advocacy efforts in the months ahead, including to the Productivity Commission inquiry announced earlier in the week, I will draw strength from knowing that Dave is on the team, as well the thousands of others who have contributed to a fantastic World Mental Health Day campaign this year.

Warm regards,

Frank Quinlan

Chief Executive Officer

Thanks to all World Mental Health Day Partners & Supporters 

This year's World Mental Health Day has received unprecedented support from businesses, community groups, charitable organisations, prominent Australians the general public. Over 2,000 people made a #MentalHealthPromise via the virtual promise wall at on the day itself, bringing the 2018 promise total to well over 3,000.

In Wagga, 1,242 people turned out to support the World Mental Health Day hi-vis record attempt and successfully brought the community together in an impressive show of support for mental health awareness. The event – an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most people wearing high-vis in one location – drew an impressive crowd of young and old; men; women; tradies; defence personnel; mental health charities; yoga enthusiasts and even some local puppies; all in hi-vis to support the cause.

A big thank you to Bunnings Warehouse Australia, the Wagga Wagga City Council, Triple M Riverina, The Healthy Tradie Project and 3M for partnering the event. In addition, the event was supported by over 70 local businesses and organisations who helped spread the word and shed a positive light on mental health.

From promises online, to work events, and world record attempt in Wagga, Mental Health Australia would like to thank everyone for their commitment to reducing stigma related to mental illness and shedding a positive light on World Mental Health Day.

Grace Groom Memorial Oration, Parliamentary Advocacy Day and Members' Policy Forum - November 26 & 27

Members and friends of Mental Health Australia are invited to book tickets for this year's upcoming Grace Groom Memorial Oration (on Monday 26 November from 6:30pm), and register a place at the Parliamentary Advocacy Day and Members' Policy Forum which will take place at Parliament House, Canberra the following day, Tuesday 27 November from 9:30am.

This year, the Grace Groom Memorial Oration will be presented by journalist and prominent media personality, Tracey Spicer, at the National Gallery of Australia.

There is also the option to attend Mental Health Australia's AGM which will precede the Grace Groom Oration, beginning at 6:00pm on Monday 26 November also at the National Gallery of Australia. Drinks and canapes will follow the AGM, with dinner served during the Oration later in the evening. 

Visit to register.

Next Week

Monday, I will be at Parliament House for meetings in the morning, followed by a meeting with Carolyn Nikoloski and Sam Rosevear of beyondblue in the afternoon.

I am looking forward to opening the National Multicultural Mental Health Project Stakeholder Group meeting next Tuesday.

On Wednesday, I will attend the Carers Australia National Carers Week Breakfast event and give a talk to the GLAM Peak (the peak representative bodies of the galleries, libraries, archives and museums sectors) meeting.


Government announces improved NDIS mental health support

Readers will know this is a big deal for Mental Health Australia. After tireless advocacy it is encouraging that we are going to see substantial changes in the psychosocial stream of the NDIS!

People with severe and persistent mental health issues will have improved access and support in the NDIS thanks to a new tailored 'psychosocial disability stream'. Minister for Families and Social Services, Paul Fletcher, and Assistant Minister for Disability Services, Sarah Henderson, jointly announced the new NDIS stream on World Mental Health Day.

The new stream will be implemented progressively and includes:

  • the employment of specialised planners and Local Area Coordinators;
  • better linkages between mental health services and National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) staff, partners and;
  • a focus on recovery-based planning and episodic needs.

Mr Fletcher said the new stream is a critical step for the NDIS in providing a better pathway and support to about 64,000 Australians with psychosocial disability, as well as their families and carers.

We will continue to fight for services for those now trapped outside the scheme without adequate supports.

Read more

Mental Health Australia welcomes Productivity Commission inquiry into mental health

Mental Health Australia has welcomed news that the Productivity Commission will conduct an inquiry ‘into the role of mental health in supporting economic participation and enhancing productivity and economic growth’.

Mental Health Australia CEO Frank Quinlan said the Productivity Commission is well placed to consider the complex intergovernmental arrangements, short-term funding arrangements, and the relative value and complementarity of different investments in mental health.

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Research to transform Eating Disorders treatment and care for millions

On World Mental Health Day 2018, Butterfly Foundation celebrated Health Minister Greg Hunt’s announcement to include eating disorders in the first tranche of research funding for the ground-breaking Million Minds Research Fund. Butterfly Foundation CEO Christine Morgan welcomed the news, stating that this is a milestone for the future of eating disorders treatment and care in Australia. 

“Dedicated research funding for eating disorders will afford our clinical researchers the time and resources needed to identify innovative and applicable responses for treatment and care of eating disorders. This a significant step forward in Australia for eating disorders,” she said.

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Tasmania to deliver a mental health peer workforce strategy

The Tasmanian Government is partnering with the Mental Health Council of Tasmania to deliver the state’s first ever comprehensive Peer Workforce Strategy. The funding agreement has now been finalised and will provide $120,000 over two years to the Mental Health Council of Tasmania to work closely with Government.

Peer workers play a crucial role in mental health services all over Australia, and internationally, and bolstering their presence in Tasmanian services is a key action under the Rethink Mental Health Plan. The Government thanks the Mental Health Council of Tasmania for its strong advocacy for a more integrated mental health system, and its continued representation on behalf of community mental health services.

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Member Profiles

Occupational Therapy Australia is the national professional association representing occupational therapy in Australia. They offer opportunities for their members to enhance best practice through professional development, support, and access to profession-specific information. Occupational therapists are qualified health professionals who work with people of all ages and abilities to do the things they need and want to in all aspects of life. The primary goal of occupational therapy is to enable people to participate in the occupations of everyday life.

Website is external)


Lives Lived Well is a not-for-profit organisation, working to help people impacted by drugs or alcohol and mental health issues. They work with people to help get their lives back on track by delivering a wide range of programs and services across Queensland and through Lyndon in NSW. Lives Lived Well work with people to create insight to the causes and impact of their drug and alcohol use and to develop strategies to reduce harm, support recovery and inspire positive and lasting change. 

Website is external)



Drop the Jargon day, on October 23, is a day for professionals in Australian health, community services and local government to use plain language. When we use jargon, technical terms or acronyms, it is hard for people with low health literacy to understand and use information. Pledge and take part in activities at your workplace. Make it easy for people with low health literacy to get better information and outcomes from services they use. Visit the website to learn more.

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Inquiry into Sleep Health Awareness in Australia

The Parliament’s House Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport has commenced an inquiry into Sleep Health Awareness in Australia. Given the significant co-morbidity between sleep and mental health conditions, organisations in the mental health sector are asked to support the efforts of the Sleep Health Foundation in raising awareness of the importance of sleep health by contributing submissions to the inquiry.

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CEO Position: Mental Health First Aid Australia

Mental Health First Aid Australia is seeking a new CEO to lead the organisation which provides and evaluates evidence-based training programs that equip communities to provide support for people developing a mental health problem, experiencing a worsening of an existing mental health problem or in a mental health crisis. The organisation trains and supports a national network of instructors and has agreements to provide its training products to mental health organisations in 25 other countries.

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SANE Lived Experience Forum 

"How ‘Mad’ Are You?” is a two-part documentary aiming to breakdown stigma, myths and stereotypes of mental illness in a whole new way. In the show, ten Australians from all backgrounds and ages spend a week together. Five have a history of mental illness. Five do not. All ten people agreed to take part in the hope of breaking down stigma.

Straight after the final episode airs on Thursday 18th of October, one of the cast members will join in an online open forum about stigma – and what we can about it in our everyday lives. The forum will take place on Thursday 18 October from 9:30pm – 10:30pm AEDT online.

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Suicide Prevention Research Fund Innovation Grants

Australian researchers are invited to submit expressions of interest to apply for grants of up to $100,000 to develop new evidence and approaches to suicide prevention. Part of the Government’s $12 million Suicide Prevention Research Fund (SPRF) administered by Suicide Prevention Australia, the Innovation Grants aim to invest up to $300,000 in new Australian research over one to two years.

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