CEO Update: An opportunity to get some enduring foundations in place

An opportunity to get some enduring foundations in place

A passerby at our Members Policy Forum at Parliament House on Tuesday could have easily mistaken the discussion for a building construction meeting. Words like foundations, plans, structure, delivery, systems and design were mentioned and discussed at length, as was the overarching idea of whether to renovate, rebuild… or in some cases reject.

It’s a nice, simple analogy that we are trying to build a house to see us through the coming years and generations - but clearly constructing a national mental health vision and system is not going to be that simple.

As we know, this construction challenge is multi layered, with multiple funders and stakeholders. This challenge requires precision architecture, as Productivity Commissioner Dr Stephen King reiterated a number of times during his outstanding Grace Groom Memorial Oration on Monday night. Architecture that has consumers at its core.

This challenge needs us all to make the most of the opportunity we are presented with. An opportunity and moment in time where the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health, Vision 2030 and two Royal Commissions have the potential to drive a stronger national mental health vision and system.

As Shadow Minister for Health the Hon Chris Bowen told delegates on Tuesday:

“This is a very important juncture in the history of mental health in Australia. A policy juncture. A fork in the road, which we must get right. We are engaged to ensure we get it right. We’ll give the Government support where we can. We’ll oppose them where we must, but we are fully engaged with this issue, and we look forward to further engagement with Mental Health Australia as we go about that task.”

Sitting in the Mural Hall at Parliament House on Tuesday, it was hard not to marvel at just how impressive the building itself is. A building designed and built over 30 years ago, yet a structure still relevant, still purposeful and in many ways still a work of art that has stood the test of time for a generation or more. A goal we need to achieve for our mental health system of the future.

It is a building with layers of purpose, systems and services, and as discussions centered around the vision and system we are trying to construct for mental health, I couldn’t help but think that what we really need is a vision and system as impressive and intricate as the building we were in.

On that premise, our Chair Ms Robyn Kruk AO encouraged members and stakeholders to “use the opportunity to get some enduring foundations in place”, an opportunity that was taken during the workshop component of the day, and an opportunity we will compile and present to Stephen King and his team.

Because as a sector, it is our responsibility to design, build and deliver the mental health vision and system we require.

And our role at Mental Health Australia is to bring together those who can do just this, especially the consumers and carers at the center of it all, and the events of this week for members, stakeholders and guests were another great opportunity to do just that.

To watch Stephen King deliver the 2019 Grace Groom Memorial Oration in full – please click here.

Kind regards,

Melanie Cantwell
Acting CEO

Grace Groom Memorial Oration 2019

Monday’s Grace Groom Memorial Oration for 2019 was a great night, full of lively discussion and networking, and an insightful and passionate oration from Presiding Commissioner for the Inquiry into Mental Health, Dr Stephen King. Thank you to Dr King for what was an exceptional speech, and for outlining such a positive vision for Australia’s mental health system. 

To watch Dr King’s speech in full, click here

To watch a highlights video of the night, click here

Thank you to the National Ethnic Disability Alliance

Mental Health Australia was delighted and honoured this week to be presented with the NEDA Medal for 2019, in recognition of our work in partnership with NEDA and FECCA on the Embrace Multicultural Mental Health project launched in August 2019. Past winners include:

  • Nic Manikis 
  • Ron McCallum

  • Brian Cooper

  • Pino Migliorino

  • Joe Cupto

  • Ivan Matas

  • Christine Williams

  • Juan De La Torre

  • Dinesh Wadiwel

Thank you to NEDA President Margherita Coppolino and CEO Dwayne Cranfield for this honour and recognition, and we look forward to continue working closely with NEDA well into the future. This is a wonderful acknowledgement of all who have been involved in this and previous iterations of this important multicultural mental health project.

Make a submission to the Productivity Commission now

The Productivity Commission invites interested people and organisations to make a written submission. If you have something brief to say, you may want to make a comment rather than producing a submission. Comments may be used by the Commission to inform its final report. An issues paper was produced to assist participants in preparing a submission to the public inquiry. It outlined a range of issues about which the Commission sought information. 

Opportunity for further comment is now sought on the Draft Report. Submissions are due by Thursday 23 January 2020.

Make a comment

Read the issues paper 

Read more

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 will hold public hearings on the following:

  • 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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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. 

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



Mental Health News

Beyond Blue welcomes interim report from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System

Beyond Blue has welcomed the interim report from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System. The Commission’s first report, released this week, made several priority recommendations about how to improve the way Victoria supports people and families affected by mental ill-health.

Read more 

Mental health the most important issue for Australia’s young people

For the third year in a row mental health has topped the list of issues identified as important by young people in the annual Mission Australia Youth Survey. 

Read more 

Support for young people with mental illness to work

An independent evaluation of the Coalition’s Individual Placement and Support Trial has revealed encouraging results that a tailored approach can help improve job outcomes for young Australians with mental illness.

Read more 

Open tender for psychiatric assistance dogs for veterans

More veterans seeking to manage their post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will benefit with the expansion of the Government’s psychiatric assistance dog program. 

Read more 

Joint statement in support of LGBTI inclusion reaches over 100 supporters

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 has welcomed the support of over 100 peak bodies, health experts and community organisations for its Joint Statement on LGBTI inclusion in the 2021 Census. 

Read more 

Audit report of My Health Record released

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) this week released an audit report regarding the implementation of the My Health Record system.

Read more 

RAI opens Regional Australia Hub in nation’s capital

Doing business in the nation’s capital has now been made easier for regional stakeholders with the official opening of the Regional Australia Hub in Canberra this week. Regional Australia Institute (RAI) co-CEO Liz Ritchie says the new venture is designed to be a home away from home, where people can meet and work comfortably – located just down the road from Parliament House.

Read more 



On Tuesday, Melanie Cantwell, Acting CEO and Kylie Wake, Acting Deputy CEO will be attending Merinda Epstein’s Retirement Oration & Celebration in Melbourne. 

On Wednesday, Kylie Wake will travel on to Brisbane for an Embrace Framework Workshop. The Embrace team are holding workshops across the country during 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 individual needs, and the needs of local communities.

Also on Wednesday, Emma Coughlan, Manager – Policy and Projects will be attending the next Disability Representative Organisation Workshop at the Department of Social Services in Canberra, and the Mental Health Australia FARM Committee will be meeting via teleconference. 

And on Friday afternoon, the Mental Health Australia office will be closed as we hold a staff Christmas Party.


Member Profiles

Lifeline is a national charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services. They’re committed to empowering Australians to be suicide-safe through connection, compassion and hope. Their vision is for an Australia free of suicide.
Website Facebook - Twitter - Instagram -


Mental Health Partners mission statement is “Training with integrity to strengthen our community”. Their team is committed to giving each participant in their chosen course the most positive result possible.Their team have a lived experience of Mental Illness, and will strive to pass on their experience in the most practical way.
Website: Facebook:



Help Out for Australia push for fair and balanced reforms to the Religious Discrimination Bills

The Attorney-General of Australia has announced his intentions to introduce the Bills for the Religious Discirmination reforms in the last two sitting weeks of Parliament this year. Out for Australia is concerned that the Attorney-General won’t make changes to the Bills, that addresses the concerns the LGBTIQ+ community raised during the consultation period. 

While Out for Australia supports the need for religious protections in Australia’s anti-discrimination laws, these protections must not create a new license to discriminate. By not having a fair and balanced approach to religious protections, we run the risk of the reforms threatening access to healthcare, undermine inclusive workplaces, and making it easier for others to make LGBTIQ+ communities feel unsafe.

What can you do?

1.    Find out how this will affect you in the workplace by visiting our friends at Equality Australia.
2.    Sign up to Equality Australia’s Freedom from Discrimination Statement
3.    Contact your local Federal MP and share your story: you can find out who your local MP is and their contact details here.

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Position vacant: MHCC ACT Office Manager

The Mental Health Community Coalition ACT – a not-for-profit mental health peak body - is looking for an experienced Office Manager to support a busy office dedicated to creating social change. 

Position level: ACTMEA Award level 4/5; $$68,132 - $76,767 per annum plus 9.5% superannuation and generous salary packaging  
Position title: Office Manager
Hours: Full time

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Position vacant: Mental Health Complaints Commissioner Senior Resolutions Officer 

The Mental Health Complaints Commissioner is seeking a full time Senior Resolutions Officer. As a senior member of the Resolutions and Review team, the Senior Resolutions Officer works closely with the Manager of Resolutions and Review and other Senior Resolutions Officers to provide leadership, supervision and support to resolutions staff while also managing a case load of complaints. 

Department: Mental Health Complaints Commissioner
Work Type: Fixed term - full time
Job Function: Health and Allied Health
Classification: VPSG5
Work Location: Melbourne - CBD
Closing Date: 10-Dec-2019

Read more

Position Vacant: MHCC ACT Sector Development Officer

As part of a small team, and under the leadership of the Policy and Sector Development Manager, this position is responsible for the sector development area of MHCC ACT’s work program. 

Position level: ACTMEA Award level 6.1; $83,584 pa (pro rata) plus 9.5% superannuation and generous salary packaging  
Position title: Sector Development Officer  
Hours: 4 days/26-30 hours per week 

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InsideOut Institute for Eating Disorders - feedback welcome 

The InsideOut Institute for Eating Disorders have conducted widespread consultation across Australia with consumers, carers, clinicians and researchers and have come up with a Draft Framework for the Strategy, which they are now seeking feedback about from across the sector. 

This link will take you to a brief survey asking a few short questions regarding the Framework for the Strategy that will help inform work towards the production of the final document. The survey should take 5-8 minutes to complete. 

Read more

Mind Australia and AHURI Conference - register now

Mind Australia invites you to join them at the Mercure Sydney on Wednesday 19 February 2020 for a national one-day conference - Housing: the foundation for mental health - held in partnership with Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI). 

This one-day conference, draws on new national data to examine the reciprocal links between the mental health and housing trajectories of individuals. The research offers new evidence on circuit breakers that can interrupt the downward trajectory in which many people find themselves. The official launch of the final report from the AHURI and Mind Australia Trajectories research project underpins the conference.

Read more and register


Watch some highlights from our Members Policy Forum held on Tuesday 26 November at Parliament House

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