CEO Update - Is Parliament House a mentally healthy workplace?

Lachlan Searle
Is Parliament House a mentally healthy workplace?

Advocating for Members of Mental Health Australia and for change, I often have the privilege of spending quite a bit of time at Parliament House in Canberra, briefing Members, Senators and their staff about mental health reform.

As the Parliament rises, preparing to return for its final Budget Week session in early April before the Federal Election, I had cause to reflect on whether our national parliament is a ‘mentally healthy’ workplace.

If you visit the Heads up website  you will see that a good mentally healthy workplace has nine key characteristics:

  • Prioritising mental health
  • Trusting fair and respectful culture
  • Open and honest leadership
  • Good job design
  • Workload management
  • Employee development
  • Inclusion and influence
  • Work life balance
  • Mental health support

As one of those who gets a glimpse of the working life lived my many at Parliament House, I see little sign of these mentally healthy characteristics for the people working hard, and long hours, to advance our nation.

I frequently encounter people who are tired, even exhausted; I see people who are trying to manage workloads that are impossible; I see people who are working ridiculously long hours (frequently starting before 7am and routinely still present at the parliament until well into the night); I see people who are often the subject of scorn and criticism, both in public and in private; I encounter people who often suspect the motives of those they are dealing with; I see people who are uncertain if they will have a job after the next election, the next cabinet reshuffle, or the next political scandal; I see people who spend months every year away from home and away from key loved ones and support networks.

The vast majority of these people, across all parties, enter politics with a noble purpose: to help to build a better Australia. Sadly this noble purpose often gets lost in the tit-for-tat politics and ‘gotcha journalism’ that seems to dominate our political discourse more and more.

So as the 45th parliament of Australia comes to its end, and the pressure of a Federal Election campaign ramps things up even further, perhaps we could spare a thought for those politicians, advisors and public servants whose futures become increasingly uncertain, and increasingly subject of forces beyond their control.

At Mental Health Australia our vision is for mentally health people, and mentally healthy communities. And I’m sure that many would agree that a more mentally healthy Parliament might have a better chance of building a more mentally healthy nation.

Let’s hope the 46th parliament gets a Heads Up!

Warm regards,

Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer

National Multicultural Mental Health Project Update

The National Multicultural Mental Health Project shares news and opportunities with interested stakeholders through its dedicated project mailing list. Everyone is welcome to sign up and receive these updates, which provide a focus on mental health and suicide prevention for people from multicultural backgrounds. Please click here if you would like to take a look at the project’s first update for 2019. If you would like to sign up to receive ongoing updates in future, please click here to subscribe to the project’s mailing list.

How would you like to join the Mental Health Australia team?

Mental Health Australia is currently recruiting for two positions - an experienced Director of Policy and Projects and a Communications Officer to join the team in Canberra, on a full-time basis.

Reporting to the Deputy CEO, the Director of Policy and Projects will be responsible for providing strategic leadership and managing a small team to develop successful strategies and policies, and deliver successful projects that aim to inform and influence mental health reform, policy development and implementation. Applications close Wednesday 27 February.

The Communications Officer will report to the Director of External Relations and be responsible for assisting with communication and public relations activities as well as events, social media and publication development. The role is also responsible for assisting with the delivery and administration of Mental Health Australia’s membership program with applications closing on Wednesday 6 March.

Click here to find out more on either position.


Productivity Commission Inquiry News

ABC Radio’s ‘The Money’ explores mental health and our economy 

Mental illness is the single largest cause of long-term ill-health in Australia. But what are the financial consequences for individuals, families and the broader economy?

“One of the things that’s changed over the past two decades is how we regard mental health problems. We talk about them more. The stigma is less. It’s still there but it’s not as big as it used to be. We know that about 20 per cent of Australians will have a mental health condition at any point in time. That means you might know somebody dealing with one now. But how much is all this costing and what are the consequences for the economy?” 

Stephen King, Productivity Commission
Leonie Segal, Professor of Health Economics, University of South Australia
Frank Quinlan, Mental Health Australia CEO

LISTEN to ABC Radio’s ‘The Money’


Mental Health News

Huge boost to support student welfare and mental health

In a first for NSW, every public high school will have two dedicated experts to ensure students have access to vital mental health and wellbeing support. Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced this week that the $88 million investment will ensure every public high school student in the State has access to a highly-qualified mental health professional they can confidentially speak to, as well as greater support for bullying, anxiety, stress, and any other difficult issues they may face at school. 
Read More

Youth mental health ambassadors start important work

Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt, says the Morrison Government has welcomed the first gathering of Australia’s new Youth Mental Health Ambassadors, who will met this week, at headspace National in Melbourne. “These 14 young men and women are a key part of our Government’s commitment to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young Australians. At a special forum I convened in Perth last month on youth suicide, I announced the Youth Mental Health Ambassadors program would be expanded to ensure it includes Indigenous representatives, with two Ambassadors from the Kimberley region,” said Minister Wyatt.
Read More

Too many suicides, too much mental illness

Police all around Australia are devastated every time one of their fellow officers takes his or her own life. The tragic and unnecessary deaths of three police officers in just two weeks show that holding the thin blue line comes at a very significant cost, according to Police Federation of Australia president Mark Carroll, APM. “Unfortunately, these quality police officers were not the only ones to take their own lives in recent years,” Mr Carroll said. 
Read More




On Tuesday I will be in Melbourne for an NDIS Joint Standing Committee Hearing.

On Wednesday and Thursday I will be in Sydney for an ANACAD meeting.

And on Friday I will be in Sydney for the TheMHS Summer Forum


Member Profiles

ReachOut is Australia’s leading online mental health organisation for young people and their parents. Their practical support, tools and tips help young people get through anything from everyday issues to tough times – and the information they offer parents makes it easier for them to help their teenagers, too. ReachOut has been changing the way people access help since launching as the world’s first online mental health service nearly 20 years ago. Everything they create is based on the latest evidence and designed with experts, and young people or their parents. That’s why their digital self-help tools are trusted, relevant and easy to use. Available for free anytime and pretty much anywhere, ReachOut is accessed by 132,000 people in Australia every month. That’s more than 1.58 million each year.
Website Facebook Twitter Instagram -

The Tully Support Centre (TSC) is a recognised provider of high quality, accessible and inclusive support services, that acknowledges the uniqueness of their region and of the discrete communities that make up that region. The TSC undertake a social justice model of service delivery upholding the principles of collaboration, empowerment, equity, accessibility, valuing diversity and human rights. The TSC asserts that respectful, positive, targeted and individualised engagement is the foundation of good practice that promotes the safety, wellbeing and improved outcomes for individuals and families within the Cassowary Coast. The TSC also undertakes and supports a number of community development activities within the community.
Website - Facebook -… 



Don’t miss next week’s TheMHS Summer Forum in Sydney

Registration is about to close for TheMHS Summer Forum on ‘Community Mental Health Systems: Human Rights and Services’. Make sure you don’t miss out on helping shape Community Mental Health - at Sydney’s Swissotel on Thursday 28 February and Friday 1 March 2019.  Compelling program with top speakers - Register at

Read more

National Suicide Prevention Conference - Registration & LiFE Awards Now Open!

Each year Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA) convenes the National Suicide Prevention Conference (NSPC), the preeminent knowledge exchange, learning, networking and capacity building event in the suicide prevention sector.

SPA is are pleased to announce that registration to attend the Conference is now open.

The Conference will take place 22-25 July 2019 at the Pullman & Mercure Albert Park, Melbourne. The 2019 Conference theme is United in Action. 

The annual Conference attracts more than 600 delegates from Australia and abroad. It’s an important opportunity for the suicide prevention sector to come together, share key learnings, network and help to move the sector forward; to achieve its goal of reducing the rate of suicide in Australia.

Read more

15th National Rural Health Conference in Hobart in March

There is just one month to until the 15th National Rural Health Conference in Hobart (24-27 March 2019). Over 800 people have registered so far and registrations are still open for the four day conference. Find out more and download the full program on the Conference website at


ACMHN seeking an independent Board Director

The Australian College of Mental Health Nurses is seeking an independent Board Director who has strong corporate governance and strategic planning skills, to support the organisation to achieve the objectives of the strategic plan. This position would also be the Chair our Governance Committee. For anyone interested in the position, please contact Kylie Pryde at

Batyr looking for new legends to join the herd

Batyr, a ‘for purpose’ preventative mental health organisation created by young people for young people, are looking for passionate, skilled and driven people (and unicorns!) to come on board as Program Facilitators to oversee and implement the delivery of batyr programs in schools and universities around Australia. Batyr run programs that help smash the stigma surrounding mental health and empower young people to reach out for support. A key function of the Program Facilitator role is to ensure a safe and supportive environment for individuals with lived experience of mental health issues, as well as the students hearing their stories. 

Read more

Suicide prevention two-day workshop in Brisbane this March

The Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention (AISRAP) at Griffith University is seeking your interest and participation in a 2-day Screening Tool for Assessing Risk of Suicide (STARS) training workshop on 11-12 March 2019 in Brisbane. People who should attend are those who:
1) work frequently with suicidal persons,
2) undertake suicide risk assessment and responses with suicidal persons, and/or
3) are interested in learning more about the STARS protocol including client centred psycho-social assessment, formulation, safety planning and documentation.

Complete the STARS General EOI form to receive further details and registration payment link.

Read more

Power Threat Meaning Framework workshops

BlueKnot Foundation is delighted to announce a unique opportunity for practitioners to participate in Power Threat Meaning Framework workshops across Australia. This framework puts lived experience at the centre of an evidence-based understanding of mental distress, suffering and adversity. Co-designed by service users and psychologists, this framework explores the role of power in people’s lives, the kinds of threat that misuse of power poses, and the ways we have learnt to respond to those threats. 

Dates and locations
- Sydney: 25th Feb 2019
- Melbourne: 7th Mar 2019
- Brisbane: 28th Feb 2019

Read more

Copyright © 2019 Mental Health Australia Ltd., All rights reserved.  | Join our mailing list

Contact Us:

Did you receive this email in error?
Unsubscribe from this list


Rate this article: 


small business, scott morrison, policy director, job, productivity commission