CEO Update: No one should face any kind of discrimination, and new CEO announcement

No one should face any kind of discrimination

That’s the key phrase for our response to the Religious Discrimination Bills. It seems quite simple.

In a world that needs less discrimination and stigma, where we could embrace diversity, Government has a role to play in influencing this aspiration. Which is why Mental Health Australia is recommending the Australian Government not proceed with the Religious Discrimination Bills’ proposals as they stand.

These Bills include the: 

  • Religious Discrimination Bill 2019, 
  • Religious Discrimination (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2019, and 
  • Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Freedom of Religion) Bill 2019.

At Mental Health Australia we believe all people deserve adequate access to appropriate mental health care, and protection against stigmatising statements related to their identity. Statements that we know cause harm.

Australians currently have federal legal protection for a range of attributes including race, gender, sex, age, and disability, in addition to jurisdictional anti-discrimination laws. 

At Mental Health Australia we also believe that people with religious beliefs should be protected from discrimination and the negative mental health outcomes stemming from discrimination. 

But is this package of legislation the answer? Is it the appropriate vessel to provide such protection, or does it do so at the expense of existing protected attributes? In other words, what, or who, will be compromised and conflicted if this legislation is passed?

In our Response to Revised Religious Discrimination Bills published this week, Mental Health Australia urged Government to ensure that no Australian face any kind of discrimination as a result of this proposed new legislation. 

We feel that any introductions or amendments to anti-discrimination laws should preserve or enhance currently protected attributes, and any changes to anti-discrimination laws must not impinge on human rights. 

As such, Mental Health Australia is strongly recommending Government does not proceed with its proposed Bills. The proposed Bills both overcomplicate situations which are adequately dealt with under existing anti-discrimination law and fail to provide guidance or clarification on more complex situations which exist in the ‘grey area’ of current laws.

The Bills are silent on what legal protection is offered when two people hold religious beliefs which are inconsistent with the other’s belief. This could lead to situations of conflict and distress where a majority or mainstream religious belief is prioritised over a minority religious belief, which is inherently inconsistent with the object of the Act. 

In short, and sadly, such a grey area of legislation could only lead to further discrimination and further mental health impacts.

As the Hon Susan Ryan AO, who was involved in drafting both the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 and the Affirmative Action (Equal Opportunities in Employment) Act 1986, put it so eloquently recently:

“A ‘right to discriminate’ would undermine all Commonwealth anti-discrimination laws and create disruption and conflict throughout Australia’s multicultural, multi-faith society … There is no need for further anti-discrimination laws. Balancing conflicting rights is difficult but can be done – and is done satisfactorily under existing laws.”

Let’s focus on enhancing the mental health of all Australians, not creating more opportunities to impact on vulnerable communities and, ultimately, individuals. 

Kind regards,

Melanie Cantwell
Acting CEO

Leanne Beagley appointed new CEO of Mental Health Australia 

In exciting news for the organisation, Mental Health Australia has today announced that Dr Leanne Beagley will be the new CEO, commencing on Tuesday 28 April 2020.

Leanne is currently CEO of the Western Victoria Primary Health Network, and her background includes clinical qualifications in Occupational Therapy and Family Therapy, as well as a Masters in Business Leadership and a PhD in Psychology in organisational culture and performance.

She is a former Director of Mental Health and Drugs at the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services for five years, is also a non-executive Director on four Boards including the Western Alliance Academic Health Science Centre, Active Geelong, Tweddle Child and Family Health Centre, and she is Board Chair of Eating Disorders Victoria.

As our Chair Robyn Kruk says in the media release, Leanne was a standout candidate during the recruitment process, and has a depth of mental health and policy experience at all levels. She has been working in mental health from a range of perspectives for 30 years.

Having spent time with Leanne just before Christmas, and seeing her present to the Board last week, I can say that she will be great fit for the organisation and she has said she looking forward to complementing the strong foundations already in place at Mental Health Australia. 

We look forward to welcoming Leanne to the team in April.

Read more 

Response to revised Religious Discrimination Bills 

As mentioned above, Mental Health Australia has made a submission to the Attorney-General’s Department’s consultation on the second exposure drafts of the Religious Discrimination Bills (the Bills). This submission built on Mental Health Australia’s initial submission responding to the first exposure drafts in October 2019. 

As in our initial submission, Mental Health Australia remains concerned with the potential impact of these revised Bills on the mental health of people who already experience high rates of suicide and mental illness, including the LGBTIQ+ community, women, and people with disability. 

Mental Health Australia strongly believes no one should face any kind of discrimination. Any introductions or amendments to anti-discrimination laws should preserve or enhance currently protected attributes. Furthermore, any changes to anti-discrimination laws must not impinge on human rights. Consequently, Mental Health Australia strongly recommended Government does not proceed with its proposed Bills.

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Pre-Budget Submission 2020-21

Last week Mental Health Australia provided our 2020-21 Pre-Budget Submission to The Treasury, outlining targeted projects to invest in Australian’s ongoing mental health and wellbeing.
This submission is based on the priorities of Charter 2020, and draws on our work engaging with the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health. Mental Health Australia has proposed several actions, including consultations to establish a National Mental Health Agreement, investment in infrastructure to support better consumer and carer engagement, mapping and expansion of community mental health services and development of a national mental health disaster and mass traumatic event response strategy.

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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

2020 snapshot of mental health and suicide prevention statistics for LGBTI people

The National LGBTI Health Alliance (the Alliance), the national peak health organisation in Australia for organisations and individuals that provide health-related programs, services and research focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people (LGBTI) is launching the updated 2020 Snapshot of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Statistics for LGBTI People (the Snapshot). 

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International student mental health in the spotlight

International students will receive better mental health support. The Morrison Government is providing $200,000 to research: mental health supports and services available to international students, challenges to engage international students with help, and best-practice examples. 

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Report on government services 2020: Health (Part E)

The Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision’s annual report titled Report on Government Services 2020 is being progressively released over several days. Released today - Friday 31 January 2020 is Health: Part E. Health: Part E includes performance reporting for Primary and community health, Ambulance services, Public hospitals and Mental health management.

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Peak body welcomes Commissioner to investigate veteran suicide

Suicide Prevention Australia, the national peak body for suicide prevention, has commended the decision by the Federal Government to appoint a permanent independent commissioner to investigate veteran suicide.

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Update on Australian Government support for bushfire affected regions

Help is now available for more people who lost income as a direct result of the bushfires thanks to changes to the Disaster Recovery Allowance.

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Delivering the NDIS plan: flexibility in transport funding for NDIS participants

Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), Stuart Robert, this week announced more flexibility and increased choice for participants accessing transport funding in their plans.

Read more 



On Monday, Acting CEO, Melanie Cantwell and Director Policy and Projects, Harry Lovelock will be meeting with representatives from the NDIA via teleconference to discuss Psychosocial Community Connectors.

On Tuesday, Melanie and Harry will be meeting with Darren Black, CEO of OzHelp to discuss long term mental health recovery work.

On Wednesday morning, Melanie and Harry will be meeting with Debra Parnell, Manager, Social Policy and Advocacy, Australian Association of Social Workers. On Wednesday afternoon Melanie and Harry will be up at Parliament House for meetings.

On Thursday, Melanie and Harry will return to Parliament House for meetings.

And on Friday, Harry will be participating in meeting 1 of the National Disability and Carers Alliance for 2020, in Melbourne.


Member Profiles

Developed in 2000, Mental Health First Aid Australia (MHFAis a national not-for-profit organisation focused on mental health training and research. The organisation aims to address the issue that, while people often know a lot about physical health problems, ignorance of mental health is still prevalent. MHFA fills the gap left by regular first aid training by delivering training sessions that teach people how to help those experiencing mental health problems.
Website - Facebook - Twitter - Instagram - 

Open Minds delivers mental health, disability and employment supports and they are a registered NDIS provider. Their team works to enhance mental health and wellbeing by delivering a range of tailored options focused on the individual needs of each person. This includes supports streams encompassing your life, your job, your health, your home and your community. At the heart of what they do is a commitment to working alongside individuals and focusing on their strengths to enable personal achievement and recovery.
Website - Facebook Twitter -



Scholarships of up to $5,000 for current and aspiring female leaders

Scholarships of $2,000 to $5,000 are currently available to women working in the health care sector to help support their participation in a range of career building leadership development programs.

The initiative is providing junior through to executive managers with scholarships to support their growth and development. The scholarships assist with participation in one of three flagship development programs. The programs provide highly collaborative learning environments uniquely tailored to the needs of female leaders.

Find out more and register your interest by completing the Expression of Interest form here prior to Friday, March 20. 

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Medicine Status Website

The Medicine Status Website (MSW) enables consumers to search for and monitor the status of medicines as they progress through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) listing process. It also enables consumers to better understand how they can contribute to PBAC decision making and the steps that must be completed to list a medicine on the PBS.

The MSW includes information on submissions considered by the PBAC from July 2019 onwards. The MSW does not include information on listing processes for vaccines or generic medicines. Please email the Department of Health ( or call 1800 020 613 for information on medicines considered before July 2019.

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SANE Forum February Topic Tuesdays

Topic Tuesday runs from 7pm - 9pm AEST monthly. Each month there is a focus on a different topic, with the session facilitated by a Community Manager or Moderator. Sometimes Topic Tuesday will feature a special guest, who is an expert in the topic.

Lived Experience Topic Tuesday forum

  • The pet effect: animals are good for our wellbeing!
  • Tuesday 18 Feb, 7pm AEDT 

Carers Topic Tuesday forum:

  • Are you feeling alone? Carers Support and Discussion
  • Tuesday 25 Feb, 7pm AEDT

Read more

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