CEO Update - Please fit your own mask first

Please fit your own mask first 

I couldn’t watch the news last night.

I was with my wife and we both agreed that we just couldn’t do it.

During the day I had heard on the radio a harrowing account given in the wake of the Sri Lankan attacks. An interview with a man who had just seen his wife and daughter murdered by a bomber as they attended Easter Sunday mass.

Is it really news that a father and a husband would be so distressed in such circumstances?

Did I really learn anything new from hearing his voice quavering and distraught and bewildered?

Perhaps the proximity to the Christchurch attacks has left us fatigued by such atrocities?

I am acutely aware that we cannot close ourselves off completely to these horrors. To do so would be to abandon the victims of these attacks to their fate without acknowledgement.

But I fear that in our rush to interview victims in the wake of these kind of events, we risk doing harm to both the victims and to ourselves.

If citizens of the world are going to prevail over the perpetrators of such hatred, we need to understand the dynamics of these events. We need to understand the social and political context. We need to understand the enablers. We need prevention strategies that are informed by a deep understanding, rather than a raw emotional response.

Could a father really give informed consent to be interviewed only minutes after he has witnessed the death of his loved ones?

Would his message to the world be the same if he was given the time and the space to grieve before being thrust into the limelight?

And what of we, the bystanders?

It seems our mental health is under siege on so many fronts. 

Social isolation and dislocation, insecure accommodation, insecure employment, work intensity, and many other factors challenge our good mental health.

Further assaults from explicit and sometimes gratuitous media accounts of horrific events from across the globe far too frequently add to this burden.

Our capacity to capture and broadcast events from across the globe has exceeded our capacity to protect and nurture ourselves.

In the wake of recent horrors, I am reminded of the advice I receive every time I get on a plane: “Please fit your own mask first, before assisting those around you.”

Sometimes helping those around you means looking after yourself first.

In the age of saturation media coverage, I suspect we have a lot to learn about how we can best take care of ourselves without losing our empathy for victims of global terror attacks.

Warm regards,

Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer


ANZAC Day closure

Our offices will be closed on ANZAC Day, reopening Friday 26 April. 


2019 Election

Mental Health Australia is asking parties and candidates in the 2019 Election to signal their commitment to a range of aims and actions critical to the success of mental health reform in Australia. As such, and in line with our 2019 Election platform, Mental Health Australia is looking for all parties to publish their policy positions and intent around the following issues:

• Permanently embedding arrangements for ongoing, active involvement of consumers and carers in all areas of policy and oversight
• Providing community-based assertive outreach to people who have attempted suicide
• Expanding community-based psychosocial support programs
• Expanding the capacity of the NDIA to support psychosocial disability
• Expanding the paid peer workforce
• Cognitive based therapy and other interventions for children and young people
• Increase uptake of e-mental health early intervention services, and
• Work with employers to improve workplace mental health and wellbeing.

Party responses will be published via an Election Report Card once received.


Mental Health Election News

Liberal plan for strengthening Australia’s health system

The Morrison Government released their health policy ahead of the federal election, which includes an acknowledgement that ‘one in five Australians experience a common mental health disorder each year and to address this [they] have made mental health a key pillar of [their] national health system’ and outlines key funding commitments for the mental health sector.

Those who read the recent Budget will recognise the initatives listed.

Read the full policy here.

Read More  

Greens launch plan for universal mental health system

The Australian Greens have unveiled a plan to help ensure access to mental health services becomes universal and accessible to all Australians. “Mental illness is one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century and access to treatments should be universal. People in our community should be able to get easy access to treatments in the same way they would for a broken leg or the flu,” Australian Greens spokesperson on mental health Senator Rachel Siewert said.

Read the full policy here.

Read More 

Labor to establish headspace centre in Gilmore

A Shorten Labor Government will create a new, full headspace centre in Gilmore to deliver early intervention mental health services for those aged 12 to 25 years. Local Labor Candidate for Gilmore, Fiona Philips knows that youth mental health is of persistent and increasing concern on the South Coast. “Many parents, community members and young people themselves have raised with me the need for more youth mental health services in Batemans Bay,” she said. 

Read More

$2 million for the National LGBTI Health Alliance

The Morrison Government will provide an additional $2 million to the National LGBTI Health Alliance over two years for the peer support telephone and online support service, QLife. Demand for the service has steadily increased over the past four years —up 20 per cent in 2017-18 alone. The service has also increased its service hours and staffing levels to meet demand.

Read More 

Labor’s health plan for the Northern Territory

A Shorten Labor Government will upgrade mental health facilities, fund the purchase of a new Careflight helicopter for Darwin Hospital, and fund major improvements to remote health services as part of a $92 million Northern Territory health package.

Read More



Monday sees me in Melbourne speaking at the launch of a Red Cross co-design concept.


On Tuesday I will be in Canberra attending an ATSIMHSPAG - CBPATSISP workshop on preventing Indigenous youth suicide. 


Please note our office will be closed on ANZAC Day, Thursday 25 April.


Member Profiles

Speech Pathology Australia is the national peak body for speech pathologists in Australia. Speech pathologists are the university-trained allied health professionals who specialise in diagnosing and treating communication and swallowing problems (dysphagia). For many reasons, people living with a mental illness are at a significantly greater risk of experiencing both communication and swallowing difficulties than the general population.  Speech pathologists are an important part of the mental health team, assessing and improving a person’s communication and swallowing skills to contribute to the differential diagnostic process and to support the individual’s functioning physically, socially and mentally at home, in the classroom, in the workplace, in social situations and in mental health treatment programs.
Website - Facebook - Twitter - Instagram  - 

Arafmi Ltd
 is a uniquely carer-based organisation formed by families who experience the loss, loneliness, stigma and isolation of caring for loved ones with serious mental illness. Among Arafmi’s goals are a reduction in the stigma of mental illness in the community, and wider acceptance of family members as part of the therapeutic alliance in mental illness, with doctors, hospital staff, community mental health workers, and consumers.
Mission - To enhance the well being of family, friends and others caring for people with mental illness and/or psychiatric disability by providing quality support, education and advocacy services.
Values - Arafmi’s values are strongly about compassion, collaboration, and respect, but they also work very hard to achieve efficiency and results in the use of their limited resources. 
Website - Facebook - Twitter -



‘Easy Read’ election guides for those with a disability

The Disability Advisory Committee (DAC) have finalised Easy Read Guides and Dignified Access to Voting video resources to assist people with disability to enrol and vote.

The Easy Read Guides include:

- How to Enrol to Vote

- How to Vote at a Polling Place

- How to Vote by Mail

The videos include:
Dignified Access to Voting (with Auslan and Captions) 

- Dignified Access to Voting (no Captions or Auslan) 

- Participating in an Election 
- Voting in an Election 

A factsheet on disability and mobility voting can be found here.

Read more

National suicide prevention implementation strategy: have your say

As one part of making suicide prevention a priority, all governments have committed to drafting a new national suicide prevention strategy for Australia: the National suicide prevention implementation strategy. This new strategy is being drafted as one of the actions under the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan, which was endorsed by all Health Ministers in August 2017. This consultation document sets out 21 Priority Actions that are proposed for inclusion in the strategy with the intention that all health ministers commit to work together to implement them over the first three years of this new strategy.

Your feedback is essential to ensuring the proposed 21 Priority Actions are the right ones.

Read more and provide your feedback 

Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium

The 2019 Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium will be held from Monday 28th - Wednesday 30th October at the Adelaide Convention Centre, Adelaide, South Australia.

Keynote speakers include:

- Dr Marshall Watson, Clinical Lead, SA Forensic CAMHS Services
- Ms Rosemary Wanganeen, Founding CEO & Griefologist, Australian Institute for Loss and Grief
- Mr John Brayley, Chief Psychiatrist of South Australia, Office of Chief Psychiatrist
- Ms Christine Morgan, Chief Executive Officer, National Mental Health Commission
- Mr Chris Burns, Commissioner, SA Mental Health Commission 

Topics include: 
- Suicide and Self Harm Prevention
- Child and Youth Mental Health
- Mental Health Policy
- Supporting Rural and (very) Remote Mental Health Workers 
- Digital Health
- Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander, Culturally & Linguistically Diverse, Ageing Population, Farmers

and many more.

Read more and register


Fearless May Webinar: Let’s talk PTSD

Join Fearless for their next free webinar on Thursday 2 May at 12:30pm and hear from Belinda Neil, an inspiration speaker, author and former New South Wales Police Inspector. The topic for the webinar is “Let’s talk PTSD: the lived experience perspective on early intervention and management strategies.” Register here.

Read more

Digital Health Agency - Online consultation for all Australians

The Australian Digital Health Agency has opened an online consultation for all Australians, including frontline clinicians, consumers, healthcare organisations and the technology sector to have their say on a more modern, digitally connected health system.

The online consultation is part of a nationwide series of discussions used to co-design the National Health Interoperability Roadmap, which will agree the standards and priorities required to achieve a more modern digitally connected health system in Australia.

Read more

National Mental Health Commission: Peer Workforce Development: - Expressions of Interest for Steering Committee

The National Mental Health Commission has been tasked with leading the development of National Peer Workforce Development Guidelines under Action 29 of the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan Implementation Plan. To develop the guidelines, they are seeking Expressions of Interest from interested and appropriately qualified persons to sit on the project’s Steering Committee. 

The Steering Committee will comprise of a mix of healthcare professionals, including consumer peer workers, carer peer workers, workforce and recruitment specialists, and managers and employers in mental healthcare settings across government, non-government and private sectors.

The EOI process is open now and will close Sunday 28 April

Read more

ANU Centre for Mental Health Research: Suicide Prevention events 

The ANU Centre for Mental Health Research is hosting two suicide prevention events in May, featuring keynote speaker Professor Karine Chevreul, as its second series of Workshops on Mental Health Policies and Suicide Prevention for 2019. 

The events are:

- Suicide prevention program evaluation on Wednesday 1 May. Program for the day can be accessed here.

- E-health for suicide prevention - local and international challenges and opportunities on Thursday 2 May. Program for the day can be accessed here.


Immediately following the e-health event on May 2, starting at 1:30pm and hosted by the ANU Centre for European studies, will be a mental health planning event, International Challenges in Engaging Local Government and Community in Mental Health Planning, also featuring Professor Karine Chevreul. More information can be accessed here.

Read more

Certification framework and national standards for digital mental health services - survey closes April 26

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission), is scoping the development of a certification framework and national standards for digital mental health services. Certification of services has the potential to build user confidence, increase adoption rates, and increase consumer choice in digital mental health services. 

They have launched their online survey (via Survey Monkey) for anyone who wishes to provide feedback but can’t make it to one of the workshops. The survey is open until Friday 26 April.

Read more

Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan Consumer and Carer Survey - closes April 30

The NMHC is surveying consumers and carers on the performance of mental health services in the past 12 months, to help them understand if the implementation of actions under the Fifth Plan is translating into genuine improvements in their care.

The survey will remain open until Tuesday 30 April. 

Read more

Help shape the National Disability Strategy beyond 2020

Australian governments are asking people to help shape the future of Australian disability policy for 2020 and beyond. Ten years ago the launch of the first National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 (the Strategy) paved the way for how governments could help improve the lives of people with disability. At the end of 2020 the Strategy will end and all Australian governments are working together to develop a new strategy for beyond 2020. The strategy is for all Australians and we encourage people with disability, their families and carers to have their say on the priorities and actions of the next strategy.  

The first stage of consultation is from April to June 2019. 

All consultations are accessible for people with disability.

You can have your say through:
• a public survey (from mid-April)
• face-to-face community workshops in every state and territory (from 29 April)
• online forums (from mid-May).

Read more



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