CEO Update - Responding to Indigenous Suicide

This week I attended a workshop on Indigenous Suicide.


It is hard not to feel hopeless and impotent in the face of suicide statistics that see our Indigenous brothers and sisters taking their lives at dramatically higher rates that the rest of the Australian population.  And while the loss of every life is tragic, it is also hard not to be especially touched by the loss of so many young people and children.


The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group (ATSIMHSPAG) Co-chairs Professor Pat Dudgeon and Mr Tom Brideson, (including Professor Dudgeon as Director of the Centre for Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP)) convened the event in Canberra.


The aim of the workshop was to consider suicide prevention among Indigenous children and young people in the broader context of Indigenous suicide prevention currently underway. The workshop was convened, in part, in response to the recent spate of suicide deaths of Indigenous young people, and the Report of the Western Australian Coroner’s Inquest into the 13 Deaths of Children and Young Persons in the Kimberley Region.


Alongside the indigenous organisations who convened the event, Elders and Indigenous experts and community leaders, ATSIMHSPAG invited representatives of major national organisations and stakeholders whose work touches on suicide prevention among Indigenous Australians, or among children and young people. This included Primary Health Network’s representatives, particularly those responsible for the Indigenous suicide prevention trial sites, the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, and other service providers.


The workshop took stock of current activity, and identified promising approaches and best practice.  The workshop considered ways organisations and stakeholders could work better both individually and collectively to provide a more effective and integrated response to Indigenous suicide.


Following the workshop, a report will be prepared in addition to an advice for the Minister for Health, Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Minister for Indigenous Health (the three ministers that ATSIMHSPAG formally advises).


The workshop will also contribute to the work of CBPATSISP including to develop a best practice ‘manual’ for Indigenous suicide prevention in a variety of service, program and policy contexts.


I encourage all Mental Health Australia members and friends to get behind this work.


The organisations leading this important work are starved of resources and overwhelmed by demand.  I think it is incumbent on all of us to be proactive in providing our support.


On the day, we heard from 6 emerging Indigenous Leaders, all with direct experience of suicide in their communities.


They were universally inspiring, strong, brave and optimistic - even in the face of so many barriers and obstacles.


Their key message was that they really need support to do what they know needs to be done.  They don’t need external fixers, they just need support to unlock the strength and resilience of their own communities.


We could do worse than ask ourselves how we, as individuals and as organisations, are proactively supporting their efforts.


Warm regards,

Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer


NDIS Psychosocial Stream improvements
Mental Health Australia has begun work with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to improve the pathway to accessing psychosocial support under the National Disability Insurance Scheme. This work is a follow up to the consultations undertaken by Mental Health Australia last year that resulted in a range of recommendations that were provided to the NDIA in the NDIS Psychosocial Disability Pathway Report. The NDIA and Mental Health Australia have established a small working group (including a mental health consumer, service providers, and government officials) which will hold several meetings across May - August to inform further development of responses to Mental Health Australia’s recommendations.  


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.

Have you been disseminating these materials?


Mental Health Election News

Mental health must be a greater priority in election campaign

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said today that the major parties must announce better and more comprehensive mental health policies before election day on 18 May. Dr Bartone said the AMA wants to see bold, well-funded strategies to meet the complex mental health needs of all Australians. “The incidence of mental health in the community is growing, across all age groups, yet mental health remains grossly underfunded when compared to physical health,” Dr Bartone said. “As a GP, the number one priority I see every day in my practice is access - access to appropriate, properly-funded, sustainable mental health care delivered by qualified mental health professionals.” 

Read More  

Labor will invest in specialist care for intellectual disability

Shadow Minster for Helth and Medicare, Catherine King, Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services, Linda Burney, and Shadow Minister for Disability and Carers, Carol Brown, say a Shorten Labor Government will improve the health of people with intellectual disability with a $9.5 million investment to tailor health care to their needs. “…Over 400,000 Australians have intellectual disability, and they face huge health inequalities. Australians with intellectual disability have higher rates of physical and mental health conditions, and twice the rate of emergency department presentations and hospital admissions.”

Read More  

Liberal Northern Territory Health Plan

The Morrison Government is investing furher funding across the Northern Territory health system, with a further $95.4 million to deliver a Northern Territory Health Plan. They understand there are specific health challenges in the Northern Territory and their Plan works to address those in practical ways, delivering more health services that will make a real different to patients. The funding will support critical hospital and cancer infrastructure and services, mental health treatment, primary and preventive care initiatives.

Read More 

Greens call for rise in Newstart and Youth Allowance

The Australian Greens have said Anglicare Australia’s Rental Affordability Snapshot once again demonstrates the urgent need for an increase to Newstart and Youth Allowance. “I’m not at all surprised that Anglicare found that no properties in any capital city or regional centre were affordable for a single person on Youth Allowance or Newstart, I’ve been talking about this, as has the sector for over a decade,” Senator Rachel Siewert, Greens spokesperson on Families and Community Services said. 

Read More

Labor pledges $12 million for youth drug & alcohol treatment

A Federal Labor investment of $12 million will enable the Ted Noffs Foundation to expand its drug and alcohol treatment services for young people…Labor’s funding will allow Ted Noffs Foundation to open a new residential treatment facility for teenagers aged 13 to 17. The facility will offer a 3-month residential program including counselling, family support, vocational education, life skills, and sport. The residential treatment program is staffed by professionals specifically trained in working through trauma, challenging behaviours, and complex needs. The Foundation already operates successful residential facilities in Randwick and Canberra.

Read More

Liberals announce more support for older Australians

The Morrison Government will continue to prioritise better support for older Australians by investing in a new targeted research centre, funding a new program to combat loneliness while ensuring the aged care workforce meets growing demand in the future. $34 million will be provided to establish a new Aged Care Workforce Research Centre, which will examine new ways to deliver care for older Australians and training and education for aged care providers, drawing on the world’s best practice. 

Read More

Make dementia a priority in your vision for Australia

Dementia Australia is calling on all political parties and candidates to make dementia a priority in their vision for Australia ahead of the upcoming federal election on 18 May. Dementia Australia Chair Professor Graeme Samuel AC said the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is underway and presents a significant opportunity to transform the industry to make a profound and lasting difference to the lives of all people impacted by dementia. “This process will take time and we need urgent action today for the people living with dementia, and their families and carers who are not receiving the care and support they need and deserve,” Prof Samuel said. The costs of dementia to the nation are rising. In 2019, dementia is estimated to cost Australia more than $15.5 billion, with an expected increase to more than $36.8 billion by 2056.

Read More



On Monday I will be in Sydney participating in a Black Dog Institute Prevention Hub Knowledge Exchange Committee, then flying on to Adelaide to attend the Private Mental Health Consumer Carer Network Board meeting on Tuesday.

On Tuesday I will be in Adelaide to meet with the Board of the Private Mental Health Consumer Carer Network 

Harry Lovelock, Director Policy and Projects will be participating in the next Equally Well Implementation Committee meeting teleconference on Tuesday

On Wednesday, Harry and I will be participating in a roundtable for PHNs and National Mental Health Stakeholders in Melbourne.

Also on Wednesday, the Multicultural Project team will be in Melbourne hosting the next CALD Stakeholder Group Meeting. 


Member Profiles

Suicide Prevention Australia provides national leadership for the suicide prevention sector in Australia. SPA works collaboratively to develop a community that knows how to ask for help and how to give help.
They build and facilitate partnerships to change behaviours and attitudes to suicide prevention, and to amplify the voices of people with lived experience of suicide. They are honoured to draw upon the knowledge and wisdom of the national Lived Experience Network and are particularly grateful to lived experience advisors from across the country who work with them to amplify these voices.
Vision - A world without suicide.
Purpose - Suicide Prevention Australia delivers national leadership for the meaningful reduction of suicide in Australia.
Website - Facebook - Twitter -

Artius is a Disability Employment and Health Services company. They offer a wide range of services from physiotherapy, psychology, employee assistance programs, manual handling courses, job search support, resume development, vocational training and much more. Their mission is to help people, businesses and communities to reach their potential. Their promise is ‘It doesn’t matter where you join us on your life journey, we will help you reach your potential’. 
Website - Facebook -



‘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 

Fearless National Conference 

The FearLess Conference this year will be a three-day event from 21st to 23rd August on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. Its focus is to hear in conversation from the “voices of the lived experience” about PTSD, and why there is hope for the future. Participants will have the chance to explore how an Australian Community-owned and Community-operated PTSD Management Protocol can be developed - and what should be in it.


Present at the conference will be experts, treatment specialists and researchers in the health and related sciences, technologists, sufferers from PTSD, and any other people affected by PTSD. In addition to the experts, we believe that many other people will have valuable contributions to make to this work. It is a chance for you to have your say!  

Read more 

Fearless May Webinar: Let’s talk PTSD - register for recordings

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


If you couldn’t participate in the webinar on Thursday but are interested in its content, please register so the recordings can be sent to you after. Register here.

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



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: 

© 2022 Mental Health Australia All rights reserved.