CEO Update - Soar beyond the rhetorical: Nothing About Us, Without Us, is For US

Engaging our consumer and carers as experts in mental health reform is a key necessity and challenge for all governments, and the mental health sector more broadly. The announcement of the four Commissioners to undertake the Victorian Royal Commission into Mental Health is just another example of a potential lost opportunity.

To highlight the need, and a possible solution to this challenge, I’ve asked Lorraine Powell (Consumer Co-Chair) and Emma Donaldson (Carer Co-Chair) of the National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum to write this week’s blog.

In addition to this terrific piece by Lorraine and Emma, I’d also encourage you to read another blog in a similar vein, penned so eloquently by my friend Maria Katsonis.

Warm regards,

Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer

Soar beyond the rhetorical:
Nothing About Us, Without Us, is For US

How do we identify and define the positions and people who need to be the ones to make recommendations on fixing a mental health system and support structure that is broken?

The Victorian Royal Commission into Mental Health appointed four experts as Commissioners this week, none of whom identify as a direct consumer of mental health services. These Commissioners will have the authority and power to decide the final recommendations after hearing from witnesses - the people impacted by their experiences of the current mental health system – consumers and carers.

Those people will share their story in the process of consultation. They will openly and bravely tell of trauma, tragedy, heartbreak, restrictive practices, custodial type care, and inequity. They will explain their pain emotionally, socially and financially of access issues, human rights violations, being over-medicated, abuse, and poor communication. Consumers will express the lack of recovery-oriented practice, and pointedly a lack of respect for their intelligence, capabilities and expertise in their own lives.

Participation in this process is paramount, but it is not enough. Consumers and carers are not ‘merely repositories of need or recipients of services, but are the very resource that can turn public services around’. It is only then that we will achieve a truly transformative approach to reform.

“The engagement and participation of people with lived experience in mental health and suicide prevention has achieved much over the years and continues to bring about positive change”.

Consumers and carers are recognised and respected as being leaders and experts in their own right. We can, and do, provide long-term cost savings, greater outcomes for consumers and carers, and real solutions. But, we can only do so when we have equal weighting and authority as the other professionals.

People living with or through recovery from mental health issues bring with them a breadth and depth of life, educational, professional and personal experiences. Skills as emerging and current leaders, and experts in mental health from a contemporary, lived experience perspective.

The NMHCCF Co-Chairs have just been appointed as members of the Mental Health Principal Committee. This sends a strong statement of intent and belief that consumers and carers can take a leadership role in contributing at a decision-making level in mental health reforms.

By appointing lived experience commissioners and co-chairs on expert advisory panels, we will soar beyond the words in statements and various government reports, frameworks and mental health plans.

Nothing about us, without us, is for us. The chair of the Victorian Royal Commission’s Expert Advisory Panel has been announced as a psychiatrist and we support VMIAC’s call that there be a consumer co-chair on the Expert Advisory Group, and that consideration is given to appointing a fifth expert Commissioner, a consumer, because then the rhetoric will translate to practice.

Written by Lorraine Powell (Consumer Co-Chair) and Emma Donaldson (Carer Co-Chair) National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum (NMHCCF). The NMHCCF is a combined national voice for mental health consumers and carers. We listen, learn, influence and advocate in matters of mental health reform.

Best wishes to Christine Morgan

On a personal note, and on behalf our staff and the Board, a special thanks and farewell to Christine Morgan who has been a member of the Mental Health Australia Board since October 2015. Christine has made a huge impact in her role as CEO of the Butterfly Foundation, in addition to her acumen and wise counsel on our Board and FARM committee, and we wish her every success in her new position as CEO of the National Mental Health Commission.

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 13 March.

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

Consumers Health Forum and National Rural Health Alliance 

The Consumers Health Forum and National Rural Health Alliance want to make sure the voices of those who have been affected by mental health are heard loud and clear by the Productivity Commission and Government as they look at mental health.

If you have lived experience with mental health directly, as a carer, or as someone whose friends or family have been affected, please give your input into this survey:

By including your voice CHF and the National Rural Health Alliance can help ensure that your experiences and ideas have an impact on the direction of mental health care in Australia, and how other sectors can support better mental health outcomes.

You can find out more about the Productivity Commission inquiry also make comments directly to the Productivity Commission here:

For your response to be considered as part of the CHF response to the issues paper, you need to submit it by Tuesday, 12 March 2019, however this survey will remain open beyond that as there are more opportunities to give input to the Productivity Commission over 2019.

If you have any questions or concerns about this survey, please send them to CHF can also be contacted on 02 6273 5444.

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

Victorian Mental Health Royal Commission

Premier, Daniel Andrews, says the Andrews Labor Government has appointed respected public policy expert Penny Armytage as the Chair of the Royal Commission into Mental Health and released its terms of reference. Ms Armytage will be joined by Associate Professor Alex Cockram, Professor Allan Fels AO and Professor Bernadette McSherry as the Commissioners who will lead the landmark inquiry.

Read More

Community and peer program to help vulnerable Australian veterans

Following the success of a two-year Community and Peer Pilot in Townsville, the Open Arms - Veterans & Families Counselling will now roll-out their Community and Peer Program across Australia, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester announced this week. “The Government is putting veterans and their families first and is committed to ensuring that they have access to the mental health support they need,” Mr Chester said.
Read More

NDIA invites submissions on Western Australia market review issues paper

Minister for Families and Social Services, Paul Fletcher, this week announced the National Disability Insurance Agency’s (NDIA) Western Australia (WA) Market Review is open for feedback. The WA Market Review has been established by the Pricing Reference Group of the NDIA to examine whether the current price controls and other market settings that apply to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) are appropriate for WA.
Read More




On Monday I will be joining members of our Multicultural team for a Stakeholder group meeting in Canberra.


On Thursday we will be holding a Mental Health Australia FARM committee meeting via tele conference.


Member Profiles

Relationships Australia is a leading provider of relationship support services for individuals, families and communities. They aim to support all people in Australia to achieve positive and respectful relationships.
They are a community-based, not-for-profit Australian organisation with no religious affiliations. Their services are for all members of the community, regardless of religious belief, age, gender, sexual orientation, lifestyle choice, cultural background or economic circumstances.
Relationships Australia offer services around the country that include counselling, family dispute resolution (mediation) and a range of family and community support and education programs.
They are a federation of service providers in each Australian state and territory and have a national office based in Canberra.
Website - Twitter –

The University of Sydney has been challenging traditions for more than 160 years. They make lives better by producing leaders of society and equipping our people with leadership qualities so they can serve our communities at every level. Since their inception, they have believed in education for all and leadership that makes lives better. The same values continue to inform their policy of inclusion and underpin their long-term strategy for growth.
Website - Facebook - Twitter - Instagram -



PHN Advisory Panel on Mental Health reports now available

The PHN Advisory Panel on Mental Health produced two reports – the first is the ‘Reform and System Transformation: A Five Year Horizon for PHNs’ which was distributed to PHNs on the 4th January 2019 and the second is ‘The report of the PHN Advisory Panel on Mental Health’ which was released on 27 February 2019. Peggy Brown and Frank Quinlan Co-Chaired this process, that included many consumers, carers, service providers, PHNs and others stakeholders from across the sector.

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Mental Health Community Coalition ACT Forum - Tue 19 Mar

Dr. Elizabeth Moore will speak about her early impressions of feedback from consultations on developing a shared vision and identifying key priorities for Mental Health and Wellbeing
in the ACT. The forum is free and will take place from 12.00 - 2.00pm, on Tuesday 19 March 2019 in Civic.

Dr Moore has been a Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists for over 25 years and has worked in public, private and community settings in five states and territories. Dr Moore also volunteers with a not for profit organisation involved in youth mental health and multicultural wellbeing. 
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IAYMH 2019 - United for Global Change - Calling for Abstracts NOW

The 5th International Conference on Youth Mental Health; United for Global Change will be held in Brisbane, from 26–28 October 2019.

The International Association for Youth Mental Health (IAYMH) is a membership-based organisation for professionals, researchers, organisations, policy makers, young people and parents. IAYMH is calling for Abstracts NOW which are due before 18 March, 2019.
Read more

Mental Health First Aid Australia appoints new CEO

Mental Health First Aid Australia (MHFA Australia), a pioneering global leader in the provision of mental health first aid courses, has appointed Dr Shona Bass as its new Chief Executive Officer. 
MHFA Australia chair and co-founder Professor Tony Jorm said Dr Bass’s appointment comes at a critical time for the Melbourne-based not-for-profit organisation, which in less than ten years has developed and provided mental health first aid training for at least three million people in 29 countries.

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Building Hope Together: The Journey After Suicide

The “Building Hope Together: The Journey After Suicide” Conference, will be hosted at the Sydney Masonic Centre on Thursday 13th, Friday 14th and Saturday 15th June 2019.

The 2019 Conference focuses on building hope together through the three main conference themes – encouraging resilience, incorporating lived experience and facilitating collaboration between stakeholders. The conference encourages the sharing and discussion of ideas, stories and research to bring positive outcomes for the post vention sector.
Read more

World Summit on Psychiatry Disorders, Mental Health and Wellness - Philadelphia, USA June 2019

Mental Health 2019 officially invites Researchers, Professors, Scientific Communities, Delegates, Students, Business Professionals and Executives to attend and participate at the “World Summit on Psychiatry Disorders, Mental Health and Wellness” that is going to be held on June 24-25, 2019 in Philadelphia, USA.
We cordially welcome you to present a talk at our conference on the topic of your interest.

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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

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