CEO Update: Stand with us on cultural diversity and respect

Stand with us on cultural diversity and respect

We often talk about the social determinants that lead to mental ill-health and mental illness, but seldom drill down further to call them out, and acknowledge how we must improve them as a community.

Today, in 2020, people in our community are still marginalized, treated poorly or discriminated against because of race, gender, disability, age or sexuality. These are social determinants and such discrimination is clearly detrimental to one’s mental health.

So as the world debates, and protests, over the divide between racism and respect, Mental Health Australia has this week publicised our position on cultural diversity.

It is a statement outlining our values as an organisation, and the way in which we define the concept of basic human kindness to others in our community.

To give you an idea, at Mental Health Australia we undertake to:

  • maintain a work culture where there is no place for racism, by calling out any form of racism displayed by staff or our Board, enforced through our Code of Conduct
  • pursue deliberate efforts to ensure our organisation is a place where people from all backgrounds are able to participate fully, through implementing the specific actions outlined in our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy
  • seek to partner with and amplify the voices of First Nations peoples and multicultural communities, and align with organisations who do the same
  • actively challenge and respond to systemic racism and discrimination in our national policy and advocacy work, and stand in solidarity with those voicing opposition to all forms of racism 
  • promote First Nations and multicultural perspectives on mental health and wellbeing

Earlier today we had to opportunity to actively live some of these values at our Mini Members Policy Forum online with Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia Chief Executive Officer, Mohammad Al-Khafaji.

Discussing racism and mental health with more than 40 members and stakeholders, including hearing from the Embrace Multicultural Mental Health Consumer and Carer Group. And it showed just how far we still have to go to create equality and reduce alienation.

A special thanks to those who kindly, and safely, shared their personal stories today, and helped us all connect with the hurt, stigma and perceived shame that is racism.

As we’ve said in our statement, contemporary Australia is extremely culturally diverse, with around half of us either born overseas or have a parent born overseas.

An important point to remember as we celebrate Refugee Week this week, where the ultimate aim is to ‘create better understanding between different communities and to encourage successful integration enabling refugees to live in safety, and to continue to make a valuable contribution to Australia’.

At Mental Health Australia we welcome people from diverse backgrounds and the ideal of granting everyone the opportunity to contribute their skills, experience and perspectives as a core part of our national identity and strength. 

You can read our full statement here.

Join us in continuing to advocate for respect and recognition for all around cultural diversity and inclusion, be it race, gender, disability, age or sexuality.

Have a good weekend.

Leanne Beagley

Mental Health Australia partners with NDIA to deliver National Psychosocial Community Connectors Project – Inviting expressions of interest

Mental Health Australia is pleased to be working with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to implement a component of the National Community Connector Program (NCCP). 

This outreach program will focus on connecting people with psychosocial disability with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The program will have a particular focus on people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in the areas of Brisbane, Toowoomba, Sydney, Blacktown, Stirling, Wanneroo and Darwin.

Mental Health Australia will undertake a selective commissioning process to provide a limited number of grants to experienced organisations to deliver these services. Successful organisations will employ new staff or utilise existing staff time. In total, up to 12 FTE staff will operate across seven identified Local Government Areas where participation levels in the NDIS are low.

These “Community Connector” staff will receive training and resources to support people with psychosocial disability to navigate the NDIS registration and plan development process. Services will be delivered by organisations with strong local understanding, psychosocial service expertise and connections with housing/homelessness services.

This project is a result of significant advocacy by Mental Health Australia and other disability sector advocates, for increased resourcing to support people with additional barriers to participate in the NDIS.

If your organisation is supporting people with psychosocial disability in any of the above locations and is interested in being involved in the NDIS Psychosocial Community Connectors Program, please view this webpage for further information and to submit an Expression of Interest.

Initial Expressions of Interest should be sent to Mental Health Australia by Friday 3 July.

To discuss further, please contact Harry Lovelock, Director Policy and Projects at  

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Embrace Multicultural Mental Health News

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. 

Watch this space for updates on further workshops and webinars for 2020.

MyAus COVID-19: A new multilingual mobile app

Migration Council Australia has co-developed a multilingual mobile app for Australia’s CALD communities about COVID-19, its impact and available support. The MyAus COVID-19 pp allows users to browse articles, search for topics, view short animations with helpful summaries, and find useful tips and contacts to help adjusting during COVID-19. MyAus COVID-19 is free and available in 25 languages.

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Mental Health News

The Royal Commission and First Nations People

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability have released a new issues paper seeking information about the experiences of First Nations people with disability. 

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Government to invest almost $35 million in Indigenous health projects

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, says the Morrison Government will invest almost $35 million in 42 key research projects in areas such as ending avoidable indigenous deafness, ending avoidable indigenous blindness, and helping to eradicate chronic kidney disease.

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COVID-19: Support for children and young people

The Morrison Government is investing $550,000 over two years to support children and young people who have a parent or guardian with a mental illness.

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Optus continues relationship with Virtualpsychologist to support wellbeing across regional Australia

Optus is continuing its relationship with Australia’s first text-based counselling service Virtualpsychologist to highlight the wellbeing and mental health support services available to customers in rural and remote parts of the country during these challenging times.

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Young Australians fearful and uncertain for their future

New research released this week from headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation shows young Australians are fearful and uncertain for their future as a result of COVID-19. 

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Deadline looms to join the National Redress Scheme

Another 130 institutions have signed up to the National Redress Scheme including three named in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. 

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Updated guidelines to support best practice care for domestic violence

The Morrison Government is investing $300,000 to update clinical guidelines to help general practitioners to better recognise and respond to family and domestic violence. 

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CSIRO study reveals COVID-19’s impact on weight and emotional wellbeing

A new study by Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, has found that weight and emotional wellbeing has suffered throughout the COVID-19 lockdown, with Australians also feeling concerned about how long it will take for life to return to “normal”. 

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Dementia peak body welcomes Serious Incident Response Scheme to protect senior Australians

Dementia Australia has welcomed the introduction of a Serious Incident Response Scheme by the federal government to protect vulnerable and senior Australians from abuse and neglect. 

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I have more Member discussions scheduled this coming week – thank you for these, they are incredibly helpful.

Also, on Monday, the Mental Health Australia Board will be meeting via videoconference.

On Wednesday I am looking forward to a briefing from SANE on their National Report Card, and to meeting with the Board of MIFA.

On Thursday, I will be participating in the Vision 2030 special interest meeting on funding models via videoconference. Harry Lovelock, Director of Policy and Projects will be participating in the National Peak Bodies Bushfire Recovery Coordinators Forum via teleconference.

On Friday, I will be a Guest Speaker at the virtual launch of the Mental Health Edition of Parity Magazine, for the Council to Homeless Persons. Harry Lovelock will be participating in the Vision 2030 special interest meeting on a multidisciplinary workforce via videoconference.


Member Profiles

Established in 1987, the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research (QCMHR) is Queensland’s premier mental health research facility. Based at The Park Centre for Mental Health at Wacol, QCMHR is hosted by the West Moreton Hospital and Health Service and has close links with The University of Queensland’s Queensland Brain Institute and School of Public Health, the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, and Brisbane Diamantina Health Partners. The work conducted at QCMHR aims to reduce the level of disability associated with mental illness. This is achieved by providing internationally recognised research that leads to more effective mental health services and interventions, the identification and reduction of risk factors, and the development of researchers in the field of mental health.
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Black Swan Health was established in 2014 as an independent not-for-profit company limited by guarantee. Its primary focus is the provision of high quality primary and mental health services that achieve positive health outcomes for the community. Black Swan Health emerged from changes in the funding and service delivery model for primary health care and in 2015, acquired all direct service delivery programs previously provided by Panorama Health Network (formerly known as Perth North Metro Medicare Local, Osborne GP Network and Osborne Division of General Practice). In 2016 Black Swan Health also acquired One Healthy Community (formerly operating as Fremantle Medicare Local). Black Swan Health and its related entities has operated primarily in the health, community and mental health sectors since 1993, developing a considerable body of knowledge in the delivery and evaluation of programs and services. As a registered provider of disability services, Black Swan Health has also embedded the principles of person centred practice into its day to day service delivery and has well established outcome based reporting and measurement systems in place across all areas.
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SANE Lived Experience Topic Tuesday event

With so much happening in the world lately, this event will give Forum members the opportunity to connect with one another, focusing on strategies to help keep their personal-world’s positive and safe during this tricky time. The 1.5 hour event kicks off at 7pm AEST on Tuesday 30th June with a wonderful SANE Moderator and two Community Guides as co-hosts! 

Details: Comfort in Chaos: Looking after yourself and others in challenging times - Tuesday 30th June 7pm - 8.30pm AEST // Lived Experience Forum.

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Free webinar: NDIS Quality & Safeguards - Provision of Supports and the Provision of Supports Environment

Please join on 2 July 2020 at 11:00 AM AEST for a one-hour live webinar. Join this webinar to learn about two key NDIS Practice Standards for psychosocial disability service providers: Provision of Supports and the Provision of Supports Environment. This FREE webinar will feature three speakers each providing a unique and complementary perspective: 

  • Debbie Hamilton, Mental Health Advocate
  • Penny Halpin, Program Leader, HDAA Australia – an approved Quality Auditor
  • Peter Orr, Chief Customer Services Officer, New Horizons

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Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium turns hybrid

Now offering face to face and virtual connections. Engage with delegates and e-delegates over meal breaks and via the virtual exhibition portal.

Details: Monday 26 -Wednesday 28 October 2020 National Convention Centre Canberra.

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Australian Mental Health Prize: Call for Nominations

The Australian Mental Health Prize is awarded annually to an Australian who has made outstanding contributions to either the promotion of mental health, or the prevention or treatment of mental illness. This year’s Prize is more important than ever, as we are experiencing firsthand the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,  which affects our mental health and wellbeing. Now, more than ever, we must recognise the vital and ground-breaking work that many Australians are doing in the area of mental health.

Nominations close Sunday 30 August 2020. The finalists will be announced Monday 26 October 2020. 

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Webinar: Loneliness and Mental Health

Loneliness and Mental Health - Tuesday 30 June 2020, 5.30 – 6.45pm AEST. The second in the Frontiers in Mental Health series this webinar will feature: 

  • Prof Sonia Johnson, Professor of Social and Community Psychiatry, UCL Institute of Mental Health and Director of the NIHR Mental Health Policy Research Unit for England.
  • with commentary from Hugh Mackay AO, Social psychologist, Researcher and Bestselling author.

The event is a collaboration between the Office for Mental Health and Wellbeing and the ANU Centre for Mental Health Research, and will be facilitated by: 

  • Dr Elizabeth Moore, Co-ordinator-General, Office for Mental Health and Wellbeing, and 
  • Prof Luis Salvador-Carulla, Head, ANU Centre for Mental Health Research.

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AFDO’s Getting the Most Out of Your NDIS Plan Webinar with Information Pack

In May 2020, the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) held an online information session called Getting the Most Out of Your NDIS Plan. This webinar was recorded and is now available to view on AFDO’s YouTube channel. AFDO have also put together a set of useful handouts in an information pack that gives you more details on the topics that are covered in the information session. You may like to download some or all of these handouts to refer to as needed.

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Invitation for parents of children and young people to take part in online research survey: ‘COVID-19 Unmasked’

Infant and child psychologists and psychiatrists from the Queensland Centre for Perinatal and Infant Mental Health, Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service and researchers from several Australian universities, have launched a research survey called COVID-19 Unmasked. 

The purpose of this online research questionnaire is to help build a picture of how COVID-19 and other recent disruptive events have affected young children, their parents, and family life.

Your responses will help develop evidence based resources in the future that will help parents, educators, health services and other professionals respond more effectively when events like this happen.

The group are needing as many caregivers of children aged 1-5 years as possible throughout Australia to complete an anonymous online survey 4 times over the next year. Each survey only takes about 20 minutes to complete. 

Participation is completely voluntary and participants can choose to stop at any time. 

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Watch the latest Heads Up With Adam Hills and Michelle Terry, CEO of Movember for #LookAfterYourMentalHealthAustralia

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