CEO Update: No stone left unturned to fix our mental health systems

No stone left unturned to fix our mental health systems

Addressing young people when visiting our friends at batyr this week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said:

“… still it is the case that people are taking their own lives and are finding the stresses and strains and the mental health issues that they are combatting too much.  And so as Australians it is our job to reach out to them and ensure that they can connect to those services, and that those services are in the places and are delivered in a way that can make a big difference…

…We are upgrading our plans in this area, leaving no stone unturned…

…We will continue to put the investment in and leave no stone unturned…”

I have no reason to doubt that the Prime Minister is sincere in his conviction. Some of the groundwork was laid in the 2019 Federal Budget speech, when Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told the Australian Parliament, and the Australian people, on behalf of the Morrison Government:

“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.”

We have heard Prime Ministers give mental health reform priority before. Ahead of a Council of Australian Governments meeting in 2006, Prime Minister John Howard said:

“What I would like out of today’s meeting on mental health is an agreement from both levels of Government that each of us will put more money in.

I’m not asking the states to do it alone, and we’re not going to do it alone.

We both have to put more money in, we need to identify the areas that should be attended to and we need, within the next few months, to work out exactly what we’re going to do in each of those areas and the level of resources that are going to be put in.”

While substantial reforms were achieved in 2006, to the credit of all involved, it is also the case that Australia’s mental health was not transformed to the extent that would satisfy any of us.

So what is different about the circumstances in 2019 that might mean lasting reform is more achievable now?

I repeat the observation that I have made in recent weeks: we are on the brink of seeing the plan for mental health reform that will be produced by the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health. A review that has been commissioned by the Morrison Government. A review that has received submissions from more than 500 organisations and individuals and has conducted consultations across the country. A review that will make recommendations that impact state and territory governments and the Commonwealth Government alike.

We also see a Royal Commission into Mental Health being conducted in Victoria that will also make recommendations with long lasting implications for reform.

Combine this with the appetite for reform I sense across our sector, including our members, stakeholders, and friends, and we have a unique opportunity.

I think we have a once in a generation opportunity to ‘fix mental health’.

We have received some very positive feedback and a lot of encouragement as we develop our ideas about what this might mean. And please keep that feedback coming.

We have also begun to reach out to various members, friends and stakeholders about shaping up a campaign to achieve this reform. We will be asking many of you for ideas in the coming days and weeks. And we eagerly await your feedback.

If our aim to ‘fix mental health’ is to be successful, it needs to be something that we jointly own, and advocate for.

We look forward to working together.

Warm regards,

Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer

Welcome Carmel Tebbutt to the Board of Mental Health Australia

Following last week’s Mental Health Australia Board meeting we are pleased to welcome Carmel Tebbutt onto the Board, appointed unanimously as a director to fill a casual vacancy through to the 2019 AGM. As a former NSW Health Minister and now the current CEO at the NSW Mental Health Coordinating Council, Carmel’s acumen and extensive health policy knowledge will be a huge asset in the coming months, especially as we await the draft report from the Productivity Commission Inquiry and tackle the issue of intergovernmental funding and reform for mental health across both the Commonwealth and states and territories.  


Mental Health News

Queen’s Birthday Honours for National Mental Health Commission Chair Lucy Brogden 

Congratulations to the Commission’s Chair, Lucy Brogden, on her appointment as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the Queen’s Birthday honours list for her significant service to workplace mental health and wellbeing. The Citation recognises the significant leadership, commitment and focus that Lucy has in addressing the mental health and wellbeing of Australians in their workplaces.

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Travel insurers make rapid progress on coverage for mental health conditions

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) is leading an industry-wide approach to further extend coverage in travel insurance policies for mental health conditions. ICA CEO Rob Whelan said the industry was reviewing a report into mental health and travel insurance, which was published this week by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC). 

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Beyond Blue and Mental Health Australia welcome travel insurance investigation 

Beyond Blue and Mental Health Australia have welcomed a Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission investigation into travel insurance policies that discriminate against people living with mental health conditions. The report, Fair-minded Cover, confirms the need for sweeping reform to the way insurance companies treat people who have experienced mental health conditions. 

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Improving mental health support for emergency workers in Victoria

Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Lisa Neville, says the Andrews Labor Government is delivering on its key election commitment to support emergency workers through early intervention by providing them access to urgent mental health treatment as soon as they identify a problem.  A national survey undertaken by Beyond Blue ‘Answering the call’ found that one in three emergency services workers have high or very high psychological distress. This is compared to one in eight of all adults in Australia.

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New policy to help improve the health of men and boys in Western Australia 

Health Minister Roger Cook says the Western Australian Men’s Health and Wellbeing Policy is a WA first, and has been designed to drive improved health outcomes for all men and boys in the State. In WA, males are currently over-represented in the areas of suicide, cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart and lung disease and stroke. More than 77 per cent of WA males are overweight or obese, more than 14 per cent smoke and more than 31 per cent exceed alcohol consumption guidelines, which is the highest figure in Australia. 

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National research plan leads the way to dementia cure and care

Every three seconds someone in the world develops dementia.  Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia and is one of our greatest health challenges. As Australians live longer, many people will either be diagnosed with dementia, care for someone with dementia, or watch a relative live with cognitive decline.  Some Australians will experience all three. Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, has this week launched the NHMRC National Institute for Dementia Research (NNIDR) 2019 Strategic Roadmap for Dementia Research and Translation at the Australian Dementia Forum in Hobart. 

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I will be taking a mid-winter break, and am excited to be visiting Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre on my travels.

Director of Policy and Projects Harry Lovelock will be attending the next Mental Health Expert Reference Panel meeting in Sydney on Friday. 


Member Profiles

The Western Australian Association for Mental Health (WAAMHis the peak body for the community mental health sector in Western Australia and exists to champion mental wellbeing, recovery and citizenship.
WAAMH recognises a continuum of supports - built on principles of human rights, recovery, co-production, personalisation and choice, social inclusion and cultural connection - are essential to the promotion, protection and restoration of mental wellbeing. WAAMH promotes, advocates for and further develops this network of supports.
WAAMH’s membership comprises community managed organisations providing mental health services, programs or supports and people and families with lived experience of mental health issues and suicide, with whom WAAMH engages in genuine partnership. WAAMH also engages a wide network of collaborative relationships at a state and national level with individuals, organisations and community members which share its values and objectives.
Website Facebook Twitter


breakthru is a national not-for-profit organisation committed to empowering people to create their own futures. Through the provision of high-quality person-centric programs, they enable thousands of people every year to address mental health, employment, disability, homelessness and training needs. breakthru operates on the premise that everyone’s needs, preferences and aspirations are different. Their commitment to client choice and family inclusion is well demonstrated through their individualised services and person-centred principles. They have a specific focus on assisting those most in need and offer specialist programs for those facing the challenge of an intensive mental health illness, a disability or physical health issue, long-term unemployment, unmet education goals or homelessness. breakthru is proud to offer dedicated and culturally considered programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, refugee and migrant populations and other culturally and linguistically diverse groups. With over 20 years of demonstrated service to the community, breakthru offers quality programs in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.
Website - Facebook - Twitter - Instagram -



Stop Cuts To Mental Health: Sign the petition

Sign the Mental Health Coalition of South Australia’s petition asking Health and Wellbeing Minister Stephen Wade, Premier Steven Marshall and Treasurer Rob Lucas to reverse these cuts and stop cutting funding to South Australia’s mental health services.

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SANE Forum June Topic Tuesdays

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The Mental Health Conference - Early Bird deadline closing soon

The Mental Health Conference will be held in Brisbane from Ausgut 27-30. Early Bird Registration is available for 3-Day Full Fee Registrations received and paid by midnight AEST on 16 July 2019. Fees not paid by that date will be re-invoiced at the full fee.

Register now to take advantage of the Early Bird fee. 

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Calling all young people - ACT 2019 Youth Grants now open 

Young Canberrans will have the opportunity to turn their ideas into a reality with the opening of the 2019 Youth InterACT grant program. The program provides grants of up to $1,500 to young people aged 12-25 years to develop and facilitate youth focused projects in the ACT. The program aims to support young people to actively engage and connect with other young people across Canberra.  

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Australian Human Rights Commission: Human Rights Awards

Help the Australian Human Rights Commission recognise and reward the achievements of hard-working advocates for human rights in Australia by nominating an organisation, individual or group for the 2019 Racism. It Stops With Me Human Rights Award. Nominations are open for the below nine categories until the 15th of July so get your submissions in quick. 

  • Human Rights Medal
  • Young People’s Human Rights Medal
  • Business Award
  • Government
  • Racism. It Stops With Me Award
  • Media Award
  • Tony Fitzgerald Memorial Community Individual Award 
  • Community Organisation Award
  • Law Award

The awards will be presented at the Human Rights Awards ceremony at the Westin Hotel in Sydney on Friday 13th December 2019.

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Service provider workshop: Establishing the new Adult Safeguarding Unit in South Australia

The South Australian Office For Ageing Well invites you to a wokrshop to inform the establishment of the new Adult Safeguarding Unit (ASU). The ASU will be responsible and accountable for responding to reports of abuse of adults who may be vulnerable, and will provide tailored support to the needs and wishes of the person experiencing abuse. 

The workshop will be held on July 2 from 9:00am - 12:00pm at the Adelaide Pavillion - Parkview Room. 

At the workshop you will hear about the implementation of the new adults safeguarding laws and the role of the ASU, and will be able to provide feedback on the draft Code of Practice outlining how the ASU will interact with other organisations.

If you represent an organisation or service provider working with adults aged 65 years of over who may be vulnerable to abuse, you are encouraged to attend. 

RSVP by Tuesday 18 June here

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