CEO Update - Three flags, two key dates, one goal... reconciliation

Three flags, two key dates, one goal… reconciliation

From Katherine to Kirribilli, or Mandurah to Melbourne, first Australians and those who have come since have celebrated and marked National Reconciliation Week in recent days. And the celebrations have varied.
The Wallabies launched a new Indigenous jersey, Qantas planes emblazoned with Aboriginal art have taken to the skies, and the three flags we so often take for granted in formal settings have stood tall, representing a nation making an effort to reconcile.
As we know, National Reconciliation Week is bookended by two key dates – 27 May and 3 June – to acknowledge the successful 1967 referendum and the High Court’s Mabo decision.
But beyond those dates, the week is also an opportunity to see just how far have we have come, year-on-year. To take stock, and focus on just how attitudes of the nation are changing towards reconciliation.
Luckily, for more than a decade, Reconciliation Australia have been doing just that, conducting a Reconciliation Barometer survey to try and measure the success, or otherwise, of the reconciliation goal. 
The survey is well worth a look, and at its heart is the one key idea that:
While improvements in Indigenous health, employment, housing and education are essential for the reconciliation process, equally important, and at the core of reconciliation, is the relationship between the first Australians and those who have come since.
In addition to this, the research shows that:
80 per cent of Australians in the general community and 91 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples believe it’s important to undertake formal truth-telling processes. Australians are ready to come to terms with our history as a crucial step towards a unified future, in which we understand, value and respect each other.
As one of the Australians who have come since, this week I’ve been lucky enough to spend time in the Northern Territory at a number of community consultations for ANACAD (The Australian National Advisory Council on Alcohol and Drugs).

These community consultations are always a chance to step away from the hypothetical, and to ground our aspirations in the lived experience of people in their communities. Sadly, much of what I heard was not encouraging. 

Many Aboriginal Australians are still stigmatised and discriminated against in the communities where they live. Still disempowered to address the problems their communities experience. And still undervalued for the rich culture of healing and environmental custodianship that has been part of their history longer than they can remember. In these communities ‘reconciliation’ is far from a symbolic aspiration - reconciliation has real practical meaning.

And as for the three flags, the Australian flag, the Aboriginal flag and the Torres Strait Islander Flag, our good friends at the RACGP have compiled this comprehensive fact sheet about the three flags which succinctly says that ‘flying the three flags is one of the many possible ways to show respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.’ 

Warm regards,

Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer

PS. Thank you for the outpouring of support and encouragement that we have received in the last week regarding our plans for a campaign to see the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health progressed with urgency in this term of government. Thanks too for those who have been contributing ideas about how this campaign might proceed. Please look to next week’s update for the first steps in this exciting initiative.

Read Mental Health Australia’s Reconciliation Action Plan 2018/19 here.

Mental Health Australia Communications Catch Up

Mental Health Australia would like to invite Communications and Marketing staff from the mental health and suicide prevention sector to a briefing and catch up at the Vibe Airport Hotel in Canberra, on Wednesday 26 June.

The idea of the ‘Catch Up’ is to outline plans for this year’s World Mental Health Day campaign, as well as the release of the Productivity Commission Draft Report in November.

The day would also be a great opportunity to network and for organisations to present their own campaign plans and processes, with the goal to share and leverage ideas, content and communications channels where possible.

To register for the Mental Health Australia - Communications Catch Up on Wednesday 26 June 
or to find out more, please email

Barbara Hocking Memorial Awards presented by R U OK?

Our Director of External Relations Lachlan Searle was pleased to represent Mental Health Australia this week at the Barbara Hocking Memorial Awards, hosted by R U OK? and supported by SANE.

In a fitting tribute to Barbara, as well as R U OK? Founder the late Gavin Larkin, the awards recognised individuals, organisations, community groups and workplaces that demonstrate values to help create a world where we’re all connected and are protected from suicide.

Congratulations to all the recipients - Rowena Saheb of Western Sydney University, The Energy and Water Ombudsman of Victoria, Ned Wieland, Stephen Dowling and Lisa Nichols and the community of Woolgoolga, and congratulations to the entire R U OK? team on a fantastic event.

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Farewell to Kris Trott, CEO of Queensland Alliance for Mental Health

Mental Health Australia joins the mental health sector in farewelling Kris Trott after four years as CEO of Queensland Alliance for Mental Health. We add our thanks and recognition to the QAMH Board and Staff, for Kris’ passion, contribution and commitment to the mental health sector and wish her all the best for the future. We look forward to continuing to work with QAMH under the leadership of Jacklyn Whybrow as Acting CEO

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Mental Health News

Nurses to benefit from My Health Record e-learning

The Australian Digital Health Agency, in partnership with the Australian College of Nursing (ACN), has today announced that nurses will benefit from the roll out of new e-learning modules on My Health Record. The new training will ensure nurses are able to use My Health Record in their everyday practice so that information is consistent across the healthcare sector to improve patient outcomes. Research published in Informatics for Health and Social Care found electronic health records can improve patient safety by minimising medication errors, improving documentation of data and enhance the completeness of data. The research also found involving nurses in this process will help to facilitate this outcome.

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Prisoners more likely to be homeless, unemployed and suffer poor mental and physical health

Many people in prison were unemployed or homeless before being incarcerated, according to a new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). The report, The health of Australia’s prisoners 2018, includes information gathered from people through the use of questionnaires over a two week period in 62 adult prisons across Australia (except NSW). “Many adults entering prison came from disadvantaged backgrounds, with just over half of those surveyed reporting that they were unemployed and 1 in 3 homeless in the 30 days prior to being incarcerated,” said AIHW spokesperson Ms Anna Ritson.

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Australian’s mental health and wellbeing a national priority

The National Mental Health Commission (the Commission) congratulates Minister Greg Hunt on his reappointment as Minister for Health. The Commission acknowledges the significant commitment to the mental health and wellbeing of all Australians made during the 2019 Federal Election, and the 2019-2020 Federal Budget. On the eve of the new Government being sworn in by the Governor-General, Minister Greg Hunt and the Commission’s CEO Christine Morgan met to confirm the strategic priorities for mental health and wellbeing in Australia.

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National Rural Health Alliance: Access to services is top issue for Hunt

Australia’s peak body for rural, regional and remote health says boosting access to health services via telehealth and increased broadband connectivity, plus boosting the allied health workforce in those areas are key priorities for Australia’s re-appointed Health Minister Greg Hunt. The National Rural Health Alliance welcomed Mr Hunt’s re-appointment in the portfolio saying he was well briefed on what’s needed to improve the lives of the more than seven million people living outside metropolitan cities. “Mr Hunt has a head start in the portfolio,” NRHA CEO Mark Diamond said.  “He knows access to health services is the critical issue for people in remote, regional and rural Australia,” Mr Diamond said.

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On Monday we will be meeting to put together all the ideas we have received for a national campaign to support the urgent implementation of the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health.

On Tuesday I will be heading to Melbourne for a meeting with Minister Hunt.

On Wednesday I will be attending day 2 of Leadership 2019, a post-election summit for Australian civil society leaders at Old Parliament House in Canberra.

Also on Wednesday, members of the policy team will be heading to Sydney for a workshop with the NDIA on the NDIS psychosocial stream, and the Mental Health Australia Board will be meeting via teleconference.

On Thursday I will be attending an Executive Workshop run by the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association.


Member Profiles

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) is responsible for training, educating and representing psychiatrists in Australia and New Zealand. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who are specialists in the treatment of mental illness.
The RANZCP is accredited by the Australian Medical Council (AMC) and the Medical Council of New Zealand (MCNZ) to deliver specialist medical education and training, and professional development programs.
The College’s vision is To enhance the mental health of our nations through leadership in high-quality psychiatric care. They believe in genuine engagement with people with mental illness and their carers and families. Their needs, perspectives, concerns and values influence College decisions at all levels. 
Website - Twitter –


BEING is the independent, state-wide peak organisation for people with a lived experience of mental illness (consumers) in NSW. They work with consumers to achieve and support systemic change. BEING acts as a bridge between mental health consumers and the government. An essential part of their role is to encourage mental health consumers to provide input into decision making at all levels concerning the way mental health services are provided. They gather information and lobby the decision makers about issues relevant to the mental health system. They seek to influence legislation and policy introduced by the government where it affects the lives of mental health consumers. BEING also keeps people informed of what is happening in the state through their Network.
Website - Facebook - Twitter - 



Have your say to help shape the future of disability policy for 2020 and beyond

The Australian community is invited to take part in a national consultation to shape the future of disability policy for 2020 and beyond. The aim of this public consultation is to ensure a disability strategy for beyond 2020 is informed by the views and experiences of people with disability, their families and carers as well as those who work in the disability sector, including service providers and advocates. There are many opportunities for people to have their say including community workshops, an online forum and a public survey.


A moderated online forum will be held from 17 to 21 June 2019. The online forum will provide an additional opportunity for people to have their say on the future of disability policy for beyond 2020. For more information on the online forum or to register your attendance please click here.


The public survey is now open. You can complete it here. The survey is available in a range of formats including Auslan video and interactive Easy Read formats. It can be completed using screen-reader software, as well as printed versions mailed from the Department of Social Services. Departmental staff are available to assist anyone having difficulties completing the survey.  You are encouraged to complete the survey and to promote it and the consultation process with your friends, families and networks. This way the Department of Social Services can hear from as many people as possible on the priorities of people with disability.


If you have any questions or need help registering for the online forum or completing the survey please email or call 1800 334 505.

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Beyond Blue National Anxiety Campaign

On Monday, Beyond Blue launched the next phase of the national anxiety campaign by asking Australians to “find out if it’s anxiety talking”. This is the third phase since Beyond Blue launched the campaign in October 2017. In the first they focused on increasing understanding of and support seeking for anxiety and in the second, on reducing the stigma associated with anxiety.

This next phase will:

  • Remind the community of the signs and symptoms of anxiety
  • Ask people to reflect if what they’re experiencing might be anxiety
  • Encourage people to visit the Beyond Blue website to take the Anxiety Checklist and get support or seek information and resources on the Beyond Blue website to support others.

It will run nationally for twelve weeks across TV, search, radio, out-of-home, social media and other digital channels (ending 18 August 2019). You can check out the Campaign Supporter Page at for more details on the campaign, and how you can support it.

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National Suicide Prevention Conference: 22-25 July 2019

The 2019 National Suicide Prevention Conference will be held at the Pullman Albert Park in Melbourne, Victoria. This year’s theme is United In Action. The theme reflects the unique nature of the National Suicide Prevention Conference, which is highly regarded for its ability to bring people from a wide range of backgrounds and communities together. This unification enables delegates to learn from each other, network and have shared experiences. The annual Conference attracts more than 600 delegates from Australia and abroad. It’s an important opportunity for the suicide prevention sector to come together, share key learnings, network and help to move the sector forward; to achieve its goal of reducing the rate of suicide in Australia.

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Queensland Mental Health Commission: Help inform activities and priorities

The Queensland Mental Health Commission’s Sixth annual ‘Taking the Pulse’ survey is still open but will close on Monday June 3rd 2019. This is the last week the survey will remain open. They have received a strong response to the survey so far, but are still keen to hear your feedback. By participating, you will help inform their activities and priorities going forward.

The survey will take approximately 5-10 minutes to complete and is anonymous. Survey responses will go directly to the survey’s independent administrator, Paxton Partners, for analysis.

Your views and opinions will help shape the mental health and alcohol and other drug systems in Queensland.

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Metro North Health Forum

The 2019 annual Metro North Health Forum hosted by Metro North Hospital and Health Service and Brisbane North PHN will be held on Wednesday 16 October 2019 at the Royal International Convention Centre in Bowen Hills. This years forum theme is, ‘Our way to wellbeing’. 

When: Wednesday 16 October 2019
Time: 8.30 am - 4.30 pm 
Where: Royal International Convention Centre, 600 Gregory Terrace, Bowen Hills (Hall A and B)
Who should attend: health professionals, health and community service providers, non-government organisations, consumer organisations and professional associations. 

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Nominations now open for the 2019 Mental Health Matters Awards

The Mental Health Matters Awards recognise the outstanding achievements of individuals, groups and organisations that have worked to improve understanding, awareness, service provision and the general mental health of communities in NSW over the past year (2018-2019).

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WA Rural and Remote Mental Health Conference: Consumer and Carer financial sponsorship

Do you know a regional person with lived experience of mental health issues, as a carer or a consumer? There is still time to apply for financial sponsorship to attend the WA Rural and Remote Mental Health Conference 2019, in beautiful Albany from 16-18 October. However, applications close 1 June, so click here now, for full details.

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Mission Australia Youth Survey

The Mission Australia Youth Survey is turning 18 this year and they want to hear from as many young people across the country as they can about what it is like growing up in Australia. The Youth Survey is Australia’s largest annual survey of young people in Australia. The online survey is open to young people between the ages of 15 and 19, and takes 15 minutes to complete.

The Youth Survey is a key evidence and policy platform used by governments, NGOs, schools and community organisations around the country. Taking part will help us and other organisations advocate for policies and programs that support young people.

Participating organisations that receive more than 100 responses* are eligible to receive a tailored report based on regional/organisation-level data.

These complimentary reports detail key Youth Survey findings specific to your organisation/region and compare these against state-level results. More than 120 schools and 40 organisations received a report in 2018 and many commented on their importance as a resource for planning programs for young people.

The Youth Survey is now open and will close on the 31st of July 2019.

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