CEO Update: More or less? The answers are clear.

More or less? The answers are clear.

Today’s Draft Report from the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health mentions the word ‘more’ over 1500 times, because clearly there is a lot more to do.

The word ‘less’ is mentioned half that amount, and even less, if you consider the words ‘regardless’, ‘less-likely’ and ‘homelessness’ in context. In short, we can’t find anywhere in the 1261 pages where the Draft Report suggests ‘to do less’ to improve our mental system. 

The ‘mores’ clearly stack up, and here’s a dozen just as an example:

  • more efficient and effective use of taxpayer money
  • more opportunities for carers
  • foster more supportive workplaces
  • make suicide prevention more effective
  • a more holistic approach to families and carers
  • more information on e-health, tele-health
  • more economical per-session rate
  • support a more productive workforce
  • accommodate more people with persistent, severe and complex mental illnesses in community treatment and residential care
  • provide more and better alternatives to ED.

Less than 24 hours into the life of the Draft Report, our sector has made a strong start on which to build, and ensure we get more out of this report than the plethora of reports that have preceded it.

The webinar we hosted today for members, with more than 120 participants, was yet another show of unity and camaraderie from a sector that wants to see action. We are extremely grateful to Dr Stephen King, Ms Julie Abramson and the team at the Productivity Commission for their time today and for answering many questions from the sector, and we look forward to continuing to work with them during their consultation phase.

If you missed today’s webinar, or would like to watch it again, you can do so HERE by simply registering your email address if you have not already done so, and clicking on Join Here.

The Productivity Commission has clearly understood the scale and breadth of the challenge to improve the mental health system and for many months we’ve said it is a once in a generation opportunity for mental health.

The Draft Report proposes a new focus on regional and person led design and implementation. For this to occur, we need to ask ourselves what this means for the sector at large, and how can we facilitate it?

At the core of the Draft Report is the push for a new national agreement for mental health, which has also been at the heart of Charter 2020: Time To Fix Mental Health, now co-signed by more than 110 mental health and suicide prevention organisations nationally.

In Charter 2020 we called for a national agreement that delivers integration and coordination of mental health services, including agreed objectives, indicators, monitoring arrangements and funding between all levels of government.

Today, we sat down to further map key recommendations alongside the nine principles in Charter 2020, all with a view to help further inform our members, stakeholders and the sector at large.

Our Quick Scan Summary document of the Draft Report can be found HERE and is also attached, and next week we’ll provide you with a more detailed analysis.

Clearly today, and the coming days and weeks, are a time to do more not less to improve our mental health system and the mental health of our nation.

Kind regards,

Melanie Cantwell
Acting CEO

Join the team: Chief Executive Officer of Mental Health Australia

Mental Health Australia has begun recruiting for our new Chief Executive Officer. Reporting to the Board, the Chief Executive Officer provides strategic leadership to promote and meet Mental Health Australia’s aims and objectives and to represent the interests of our members. It is a highly influential role which works closely with stakeholders to advocate for and grow the long-term investment in mental health funding. Engaging with members, consumers and carers and other stakeholders, you will lead the work to advocate for a better mental health system, through improved systems design and interface.

Read the full position advertisement

Mental Health - Productivity Commission Draft Report 

The Productivity Commission estimates that mental ill-health and suicide are costing Australia up to $180 billion per year and treatment and services are not meeting community expectations. “Mental ill-health has huge impacts on people, communities and our economy but mental health is treated as an add-on to the physical health system. This has to change,” Productivity Commission Chair, Michael Brennan said.

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Mental Health Australia welcomes Productivity Commission Report and push for a national agreement

National peak body for mental health, Mental Health Australia has today welcomed the Draft Report released by the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health, saying it’s a report we can all act on, and must act on. Mental Health Australia Acting CEO Melanie Cantwell said if we build on this Draft Report it has the potential to be a defining moment for systemic mental health and suicide prevention reform. “The Commission has clearly understood the scale and breadth of the challenge to improve the mental health system and said substantial reform of Australia’s mental health system is needed,” said Ms Cantwell.

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Productivity Commission hearings

The Productivity Commission will seek further information and feedback following the release of the draft report on 31 October 2019. The Productivity Commission is advising they will hold public hearings on the following:

  • 15 November - Canberra
  • 18-19 November - Melbourne
  • 20 November - Geraldton
  • 21 November - Perth
  • 25-26 November - Sydney
  • 28 November - Broken Hill
  • 2 December - Rockhampton
  • 3 December - Brisbane
  • 9 December - Launceston

Adelaide and Darwin public hearings will be held at dates to be advised in early 2020. Please note registrations to attend or participate in the hearings is not open yet. 

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Joint Submission to the Review of the NDIS Act and the New NDIS Participant Service Guarantee

This week Mental Health Australia, Community Mental Health Australia and the Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia provided a joint submission to the Review of the NDIS Act and the new NDIS Participant Service Guarantee. The submission welcomed the Government’s intention to review the NDIS legislation and develop a NDIS Participant Service Guarantee. It proposed changes to the legislation, rules and practices of the NDIS and NDIA in order to enable the NDIA to realise the new guarantee for people with psychosocial disability, clarify the original policy intent of the NDIS and align it more closely with recovery oriented practice. 

To read the full submission, please click here.

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Embrace Multicultural Mental Health News


Workshops - The Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia

The Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (the Framework) is a free, nationally available online resource which allows organisations and individual practitioners to evaluate and enhance their cultural responsiveness. It has been mapped against national standards to help you meet your existing requirements, with access to a wide range of support and resources.

Embrace Multicultural Mental Health (the Embrace Project) will be holding free workshops around Australia across 2019-2020 to support implementation of the Framework by mental health services, Primary Health Networks, individual practitioners and others. The workshops will provide an overview of the Framework and explore how it can be tailored to best meet your needs and the needs of your local community.

Workshop dates are listed below, along with indicative dates for early 2020 (to be confirmed with all states and territories). Please click here to register for a workshop near you.

Adelaide, SA: 19 November 2019
Brisbane, QLD: 4 December 2019
Perth, WA: TBC February/March 2020
Darwin, NT: TBC February/March 2020
Canberra, ACT: TBC



Mental Health News

Philanthropists and corporates aren’t backing mental health

Australia is experiencing a mental health crisis and private funders are not answering the call. Future Generation commissioned a survey of 56 philanthropists and corporate foundations to understand why, and to determine what needs to change.

Read more

Pharmacogenomics research funding to improve mental health care 

Minister for Health The Hon Greg Hunt MP says the Morrison Government will invest $7 million for  research into the use of pharmacogenomics to improve mental health treatment outcomes and help reduce suicide.

Stolen Generations ‘wrongly’ treated for PTSD 

Researchers say mental health practitioners are wrongly diagnosing Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to a lack of cultural awareness. Dr Stewart Sutherland, from The Australian National University (ANU) says PTSD is the “wrong diagnosis” for people who are forcibly removed from their families. “We have never stopped removing Aboriginal children from their culture and we remove more Aboriginal people from their families now than we ever did in history,” Dr Sutherland said.

Medicare for eating disorders goes LIVE 1 November

People with eating disorders including anorexia nervosa will soon be able to access new Medicare services to help manage these complex conditions. The Butterfly Foundation has been working with the Commonwealth Department of Health and other stakeholders to help inform the development of Medicare items and their inclusion on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) from 1 November.

Read more 

NSW Launches Charter 2020: a National Consensus on Mental Health Reform

The Mental Health Coordinating Council has joined with over 100 leading mental health and suicide prevention organisations to sign the Charter 2020: Time to Fix Mental Health – a set of agreed principles that are crucial to improving Australia’s mental health system. MHCC NSW CEO Carmel Tebbutt has penned this OpEd for Croakey as part of their state launch of Charter 2020.

Read more 


Member Profiles

dNet – Connecting People Like Us
dNet exists to ensure that no Australian living with depression need ever feel they are alone and have nowhere to turn.  All the dNet Team are ‘people like you’ – Australians living with depression and our families and friends. Our Mission is to empower ‘people like us’ to make informed choices and find solutions to the challenges of living with depression and other mood disorders. We do this through the provision of online resources for information, help to access professionals, treatments & tools throughout Australia, and peer support through email, message boards and chat rooms. dNet actively promotes and supports all who are working to improve the mental health & wellbeing of Australians.
Website:   Facebook:  

Lamp Inc was established in August 1996. Its members consist of people living in the community with severe and persistent Mental Health Disorders, their families and carers. Members meet regularly at a variety of social and recreational activities. In the general community and at any of the Lamp living skills/drop in support centres at Busselton, Margaret River and Bridgetown. Lamp’s aim is to promote personal independence, social well being and community inclusion for consumers. Lamp provides services to consumers within their own homes and in the general community.
Website -



Mental Health Victoria launches NDIS workforce survey

Mental Health Victoria (MHV) is asking NDIS workers, team leaders and managers to fill out a survey about professional development and training for Victorian NDIS staff working with people with psychosocial disability.

The survey aims to find out what professional development and training is currently being provided for Victorian NDIS Support Workers and Support Coordinators working with people with psychosocial disability and their team leaders. As well as what workers, team leaders and managers would like to see happen in the future.

MHV will use the results to develop tailored training for this mostly mobile and time-poor workforce, as well as advocate for change. 400-500 free training places will be rolled out in 2020.

Click here to fill out the NDIS Provider Psychosocial Workforce Survey by 24 November 2019. Or click here for more information about MHV’s NDIS Workforce Development (Psychosocial Capabilities) Project. This project is supported by Victorian DHHS NDIS Transition Support funding.

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Mental Health Victoria Annual Conference 17-18 March 2020

Mental Health Victoria’s annual conference will take place on 17-18 March 2020. Leaders and innovators from across the mental health and related sectors will meet to share, inspire and network. Roberto Mezzina, Director of the Dipartimento di Salute Mentale, Trieste, Italy, will be amongst the highly regarded speakers at the Mental Health Across the Lifespan Conference 2020.

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SANE launches Our Turn To Speak survey

Our Turn to Speak is a national survey that seeks to understand the life experiences of people living with severe and complex mental health issues in Australia. Our Turn to Speak will investigate the lived experiences – both positive and negative – of people affected by these issues.

SANE Australia’s Anne Deveson Research Centre (ADRC), in partnership with the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences (MSPS) at the University of Melbourne is seeking 7,000 people aged 18 and over who have experienced complex mental health issues in the last 12 months. 

Following a short (approximately 5 minutes) eligibility screening process, participants will be asked to complete the survey. The survey will take about 30 minutes and can be completed online right now, or over the phone. Participants can take the survey over the phone from Monday, 11 November 2019, between 9am–8pm (AEDT), Monday–Friday.

All responses will be kept confidential, and participants may be offered a $25 electronic gift card as reimbursement for their time.

Participants must be aged 18 years or over, and must have experienced severe and complex mental health issues in the last 12 months. 

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AASW 2019 Conference - One week to go

With only one week left until AASW Conference 2019, time is running out to register. Be part of the professional development event of the year. In addition to a fantastic program, there are a number of social activities to partake in while you visit the beautiful city of Adelaide.

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2020 National Men’s Health Gathering

Would you like to present at the 2020 National Men’s Health Gathering? If you are interested in contributing to the 2020 National Men’s Health Gathering Program and have a project in mind that highlights the topic areas of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Male Health, Physical Health, Mental Health, Social Health and Youth & Diversity, the Conference Steering Committee would like to hear from you!

  • 2020 National Men’s Health Gathering - Incorporating the 10th Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Male Heath Convention and the 13th National Men’s Health Conference.

  • Wednesday, 13-15 May 2020, Rydges Melbourne

Read more





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