CEO Update: Success comes with unity

Success comes with unity

As I begin to write this final update I am sitting in seat 13D on a flight from Sydney to Townsville, ahead of the World Mental Health Day events to be celebrated there tomorrow.

Given this is my last week in the role, perhaps it’s fitting that it’s an exit row!

In my 8½ years at Mental Health Australia I have sat in this seat often, and have often used the time on the plane to reflect on the task of mental health reform, the state of our sector, the performance – good and bad – of Mental Health Australia.

I cleaned up my office before I left Canberra, and amongst my papers I found my original application for the role. In that application, which was addressed to the Hon Rob Knowles, I expressed my naive ambition to lead “a credible, sustainable organization exercising national leadership on such an important issue as mental health”.

I believe I have stayed true to that ambition, and I am incredibly grateful to those who have been part of that journey – some I have barely known, and others who have become closer to family.

I reflect that over the course of my lifetime, mental health reform has made some great progress. As a teenager I was vaguely aware that people occasionally had what my parents described as “nervous breakdowns”. When they did, they often disappeared for a while, sometimes returning well, sometimes returning in what I now know was a murky haze of medication. That was about the full extent my understanding.

Fast forward to today and my own, young adult children, have a deep and sophisticated understanding of their own mental health, and the mental health of those around them. They have conversations that are nuanced, they look out for each other, and importantly, they aspire to lead and support mentally healthy lives. Our interventions are much more nuanced too, as we begin to understand the evidence, and we begin to recognize the diversity of both aspiration and need.

But none of us are blind to the fact that we have so much more to do.

We continue to allow too many people to languish in social, economic and environmental circumstances that create mental distress and injury.

Our mental health systems remain inadequate to deal with the distress and injury that members of the community experience in substantial numbers.

We fail to invest, on any kind of fit for purpose scale, in preventative and protective activities that we know work.

I will be an active and supportive observer as a new CEO takes Mental Health Australia on the next leg of its journey.

It is in equal parts a challenging and rewarding role.

We make our case in a very noisy environment, and we will not be successful by simply shouting more loudly than the many causes, good and bad, who are also shouting as loudly as they can.

Success comes with unity.

Success comes when we speak together, about our shared goals, not when we clamber over each other seeking to speak first and speak loudest.

Of all the things I hope we have achieved together while I have been at Mental Health Australia, I hope we have an increased understanding of our own diversity, and that we are becoming more unified.

I cannot adequately thank the wonderful staff and the many wonderful people I have had the privilege of working with for more than 8 years.

I also note that the whole “Speaking Frankly” was a name thing, so you might want to look at that… 

Warm regards,

Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer

Productivity Commission update

The Commission will seek further information and feedback following the release of the draft report on 31 October 2019. The Productivity Commission is advising that they will hold public hearings on the following dates, at the following locations:

  • 15 November - Canberra
  • 18-19 November - Melbourne
  • 20 November - Perth
  • 21 November - Geraldton
  • 25-26 November - Sydney
  • 28 November - Broken Hill
  • 2 December - Rockhampton
  • 3 December - Brisbane
  • 9 December - Launceston

Adelaide and Darwin public hearings will be held at dates to be advised in early 2020. Please note registrations to attend or participate in the hearings is not open yet. 

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World Mental Health Day News

Yesterday was a fantastic day!

Over 1000 organisations around Australia were promoting World Mental Health Day through various events and activities, and over 1500 people made and shared a #MentalHealthPromise on the day alone!

Townsville also was successful in breaking the Guinness World Record for the ‘most people in high-visibility vests’, reaching 2,499 to beat the previous record of 2,136. It was a fantastic afternoon of fun, connection and raising mental health awareness for the whole community.

Follow @aumentalhealth to see some highlights from the day!




Embrace Multicultural Mental Health News


Workshops - The Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia

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.

Embrace Multicultural Mental Health (the Embrace Project) will be holding free workshops around Australia across 2019-2020 to support implementation of the Framework by mental health services, Primary Health Networks, individual practitioners and others. The workshops will provide an overview of the Framework and explore how it can be tailored to best meet your needs and the needs of your local community.

Workshop dates to the end of November 2019 are listed below, along with indicative dates to March 2020 (to be confirmed with all states and territories). Please click here to register for a workshop near you.

Hobart, TAS: 14 October 2019
Melbourne, VIC: 23 October 2019
Sydney, NSW: 6 November 2019
Adelaide, SA: 19 November 2019
Brisbane, QLD: Early December 2019
Perth, WA: TBC February/March 2020
Darwin, NT: TBC February/March 2020
Canberra, ACT: TBC




Mental Health News

Mental Health Services in Australia

Mental health services in Australia (MHSA) provides a picture of the national response of the health and welfare service system to the mental health care needs of Australians. MHSA is updated progressively throughout each year as data becomes available. 

Take stock on World Mental Health Day: Ombudsman

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell has urged small business owners to take a moment to consider their wellbeing ahead of World Mental Health Day 2019.

Federal-State Cooperation continues NDIS build with improvements in transport, mental health

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Disability Reform Council (DRC) met this week for its second meeting for 2019 in Sydney, New South Wales. 

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World Mental Health Day 2019

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, says World Mental Health Day… is an opportunity to talk and think about how we perceive mental illness in Australia, including removing any stigma around it. 

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Townsville has broken a Guinness World Record

Congratulations Townsville – you are official holders of a Guinness World Record! On World Mental Health Day, 10 October, the city of Townsville came together to break the Guinness World Record for the ‘most people wearing high-visibility vests at a single venue.’ Reaching 2,499 people, Townsville knocked the previous record of 2,136 out of the park.

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Member Profiles

The ANU Centre for Mental Health Research

The vision of the ANU Centre for Mental Health Research (CMHRis to be recognised as a leader in excellent, innovative, population-based mental health research that is relevant to policy and practice. Goals - Excellence in research - Dissemination of high-quality research through translation into policy and practice - Training future leaders through research supervision and teaching - A focus on research that is designed to be highly relevant to the mental health sector and to the broader population - Incorporating the crucial lived experience perspective that consumers and carers bring,  contributing to research directions, informing research design and in conducting research - Collaboration with the mental health sector to reach common goals, including collaboration with academics from across disciplines, policymakers, service providers, consumers and carers - Building capacity and sustainability in population mental health research

HelpingMinds began as Arafmi on July 20, 1976 as a public meeting for carers of people with a mental illness. Between then and now they have grown considerably and in 2015 they changed their name from Arafmi WA to HelpingMinds.
HelpingMinds supports children, young people, adults and families that are affected by mental illness across the whole of WA. They have a professional and compassionate team of staff and dedicated volunteers who provide quality, confidential support and services to children, youth, adults and families who are caring for someone with a mental illness or individuals who affected by a mental illness. The majority of their services are free of charge and focus on: advocacy, understanding the mental health system, education, counselling and support, school holiday programs and respite.
Website - Facebook - Twitter - Instagram -



Suicide Prevention Australia: Applications open for Post-Doctoral Fellowships

Further your research career today and apply for one of Suicide Prevention Australia’s Post-Doctoral Fellowships which offer up to $300,000 in funding. The grants aim to build research capacity and develop research leadership across the spectrum of suicide prevention.

Applications close on Monday 14 October 2019 at 23:59 (AEST).

Visit the website for more information, including guidelines and the application form.

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Congratulations Townsville - Guinness World Record Holders!


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