CEO Update: The need for ambition, vision and momentum for reform continues

The need for ambition, vision and momentum for reform continues

Late last week we submitted our final submission to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health. What a journey this Inquiry has been for the sector!

Many thanks to our members and stakeholders who have contributed to the development of all our submissions, and ultimately the principles and content in Charter 2020: Time to Fix Mental Health.

As we have said before, and as we said again to the Productivity Commission last week, the Draft Report offers a strong foundation to build upon by fixing what is in place now; however it is not enough to do what we are doing now, but better. 

If we are to seize this opportunity, the Productivity Commission’s Final Report must build on the Draft Report to set out an ambitious vision and agenda for mental health reform, with supporting governance structures to enable effective implementation.

This ambitious vision and agenda must outline a world class mental health system, which balances clinical and social care and support and is led by mental health consumers and carers.

In doing so, the Final Report must recommend tangible structures to ensure consumer and carer led design, significant growth of community mental health, and address the social determinants of mental health.

The Productivity Commission has consulted widely, actively listened, and articulated issues well in its Draft Report. However, the Draft Report does not provide concrete recommendations about how to address these issues.

Using the Charter 2020 Key Principles as a guide, our submission provides advice to assist the Productivity Commission to build on the strong foundation of its Draft Report.

The Final Report must include recommendations which:

  1. strike a new National Agreement for Mental Health
  2. build a mental health system that is truly person-led
  3. address the root causes of mental health issues
  4. invest in early intervention and prevention
  5. fund Indigenous mental health, wellbeing and suicide prevention according to need
  6. provide integrated, comprehensive support services and programs
  7. expand community based mental health care
  8. support workforce development
  9. build an evidence based, accountable and responsive system

If all these are addressed, the Productivity Commission journey will have been worth it. To us the sector, and to the people and their carers who rely on the mental health system working when and how they need it.

The Productivity Commission is required to hand down its Final Report to the Australian Government by 23 May 2020. Under the Productivity Commission Act 1998, Government is required to table the report within 25 sitting days of receipt. Our own Parliamentary Advocacy Day is planned right in the middle of this period – 23 June 2020 – and we look forward to working with our members at that event to visit a range of parliamentarians and ensure an appropriate Government response.

Kind regards,

Melanie Cantwell
Acting CEO

PS. An enormous thank you to our policy and projects team who went above and beyond in the lead up to and over the holiday period to produce such a detailed and compelling submission. I commend it to you all.

Mental Health Australia’s Submission to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health Draft Report

Last week, Mental Health Australia submitted our response to the Draft Report of the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Mental Health. Mental Health Australia welcomes the careful thinking in the Draft Report, which provides a contemporary statement of the breadth and depth of the community and economic impact of mental health issues. In our submission, Mental Health Australia calls on the Productivity Commission to build on the Draft Report to set out an ambitious vision and agenda for mental health reform. The Productivity Commission’s Final Report must recommend tangible structures to ensure consumer- and carer-led design, significant growth of community based mental health services, and address the social determinants of mental health. 

Using the nine key principles of Charter 2020 as a guide, Mental Health Australia’s submission provides advice to assist the Productivity Commission to realise this once in a generation opportunity for substantive mental health reform. 

Read the submission here

Farewell to Jennifer Bowers as CEO of Rural & Remote Mental Health

Mental Health Australia adds our farewell to Jennifer as she steps down from her role as CEO of Rural and Remote Mental Health. Jennifer has been diligent and committed in this role for over a decade, and has shown great leadership to the sector. We wish Jennifer all the best for her future endeavours, and are very pleased to continue working with her in her role on the Board of Mental Health Australia.

Read more 


Embrace Multicultural Mental Health News

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) has been 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 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.

Workshops for 2019 have now ended. Workshop dates for 2020 are listed below: 

  • ACT: Hellenic Club of Canberra, Phillip, 26 February 2020
  • WATechnology Park Function Centre, Bentley, 5 March 2020
  • NTMercure Darwin Airport Resort, Marrara, 26 March 2020

Please click here to register for a workshop near you. 


Mental Health News

Suicide prevention and mental health package signals once in a generation reforms 

The Morrison Government is investing $64 million in suicide prevention and mental health initiatives as an early response to initial advice from the National Suicide Prevention Adviser, signalling a dramatic reform of the national approach to suicide prevention.

Read more 

Beyond Blue welcomes Commonwealth suicide prevention funding

Beyond Blue has welcomed the Commonwealth’s $64 million investment in suicide prevention, including $7 million over two years towards suicide aftercare and the expansion of The Way Back Support Service.

Read more 

Practical and emotional support for bushfire affected communities

The Life in Mind team at Everymind has worked with the suicide prevention and mental health sectors, and in collaboration with the National Mental Health Commission, to provide a comprehensive list of resources to support bushfire affected communities and the general public.

Read more 

Urgent action to protect junior doctors’ mental health

The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) echoes the Australian Medical Association’s (AMA) call for urgent action to support doctors in training. While junior doctors’ mental health has long been a concern for the Australian medical workforce and medical students, fresh evidence has established the relationship between long working hours and risk of suicide.

Read more 

Importance of medicine safety in mental health care cannot be ignored

Engaging pharmacists in the delivery of mental health care in Australia will lead to earlier intervention, improved treatment outcomes and a reduction in medication harms, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia has argued in its response to the Productivity Commission’s Draft Report on Mental Health.

Read more 



On Tuesday, Harry Lovelock, Director of Policy and Projects will be participating in the next Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance (MHWA) CEO Steering Committee Meeting in Melbourne.

On Wednesday, Harry will be participating in meeting one of the Healthy Mind, Healthy Body Project Steering Committee meeting via teleconference.

On Thursday, Melanie Cantwell, Acting CEO will be attending a meeting of the Primary Health Reform Steering Group in Canberra.


Member Profiles

The Mental Health Council of Tasmania (MHCT) is a member based peak body. They represent and promote the interests of community managed mental health services and have a strong commitment to enabling better mental health and wellbeing outcomes for every Tasmanian.
Website - Facebook - Twitter -

The Movember Foundation is the leading charity changing the face of men’s health. They’re addressing some of the biggest health issues faced by men: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health and suicide prevention.
They know what works for men, and how to find and fund the most innovative research to have both a global and local impact. They continuously challenge the status quo, and invest quickly in what works. In 15 years they’ve funded more than 1,200 men’s health projects around the world.
By 2030 they’re aiming to reduce the number of men dying prematurely by 25%.
Website: Facebook Instagram Twitter



SANE Australia 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. 

More than 690,000 Australians aged 18 and over live with complex mental health issues. Our Turn to Speak will explore if and how these issues impact the many and varied aspects of participants’ lives. The survey findings will then be used to inform SANE’s future advocacy efforts, as they work towards improved social outcomes and support for all Australian affected by these issues. 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.

Participants must be aged 18 years or over, and must have experienced severe and complex mental health issues in the last 12 months. To see if you or someone you know is eligible to participate, take a look at the website

Read more

Mental Health Foundation Australia Youth Ambassador Program

Applications for the Youth-Ambassadors Program 2020 are open to all members of the community aged between 16 and 25 years who are passionate about youth mental health to join the program. The MHFA is seeking individuals who have experience in either the mental health sector, students’ unions and societies, politics, business or in community services to join the program.

In your role as Youth Ambassador, you will have the opportunity to identify and discuss key issues affecting young people and contribute ideas for youth programs. YAP members may also get to work alongside MHFA staff to plan key events, speak at or attend MHFA functions, seminars and undertake Support Group meetings. Being part of the YAP is a great opportunity for professional development and expanding your networks, while having some fun along the way.

Read more about the program here

Register here

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Early bird tickets for 2020’s major Sustainable Development Goals event

On 15 and 16 April at the MCG, governments, business, community sector organisations, universities and UN representatives will take part in 2020’s major Sustainable Development Goals event – the UN & Australia Sustainable Partnerships Forum. Make sure you don’t miss this unique opportunity for your organisation to create long lasting partnerships for the continued advancement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Register before 29 February to access Early Bird rates

Find all the Forum details, including announcements of new Speakers and Partners

Read more

Apply for a Churchill Fellowship in 2020

A Churchill Fellowship can offer you (as an Australian citizen) a life-changing opportunity to travel overseas to investigate a topic or an issue that you are passionate about. It is for anyone who has exhausted alternatives within Australia and would like to see what other countries are doing successfully in a similar space to inspire new ideas, innovation, and excellence.

No prescribed qualifications are required in order to apply for a Churchill Fellowship, however, the Fellowship is NOT designed to enable applicants to complete tertiary qualifications. 100+ Fellowships will be available for award in 2020.

Our national roadshow of information sessions will be visiting capital cities and regional centres across Australia in February and March 2020 to provide potential applicants with helpful advice on how to apply for the Churchill Fellowship award. These sessions are free to attend but you must register to secure your place.

Read the application guide

Register now for the 2020 National Roadshow of Information Sessions

Read more



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