CEO Update: Timely support at an optimistic time for mental health reform

Timely support at an optimistic time for mental health reform

Next week, more than 90 organisations from the mental health and suicide prevention sector will write to the Prime Minister highlighting our Charter 2020: Time To Fix Mental Health. The show of support and unity is timely.

It’s timely following a hugely successful World Suicide Prevention Day and R U OK? Day this week. And timely given the great optimism there is for mental health reform ahead of the release of the Productivity Commission Inquiry Draft Report in October/November.

The Prime Minister, the Treasurer and the Minister for Health have all spoken about their deep personal commitment to reducing suicides and improving Australia’s mental health.

In addition, the Productivity Commission has been tasked with an Inquiry examining the impact of mental health on people’s ability to participate socially and economically. The Productivity Commission has already shown an understanding of the multifaceted nature of mental health with its first paper in relation to the review canvassing issues across the social determinants of mental health.

It’s no secret that the mental health sector suffers from review fatigue. Multiple reviews have been conducted into mental health in recent decades, highlighting remarkably similar issues. Reviews have offered high quality articulation of issues and provided some policy solutions. However, these reviews have not been followed with high quality and comprehensive implementation. The current Productivity Commission Inquiry has the potential to be different, to be a genuine catalyst for real reform, especially if we unite behind the greater cause of implementing the report, rather than trying to fragment it.

With this in mind, and in addition the Joint Letter and Charter 2020 Time To Fix Mental Health, Mental Health Australia has invested considerably in supporting the review through three submissions providing advice about:

  • the appropriate suite and mix of mental health services and enabling systems and structures
  • a global evidence review of some international models of care
  • the appropriate intergovernmental governance and financial arrangements required to underpin a robust mental health system.

All three submissions are available on our website at while the final Joint Letter and Charter 2020 Time To Fix Mental Health will be distributed wide and far next week.

A Charter that speaks to the need for a national agreement for mental health, person-led care, addressing the social determinants of health, investing in prevention and early intervention, Indigenous social and emotional wellbeing, integration of support, expanding community based mental health care, supporting the workforce and building the evidence base and accountability.

A Charter that provides some guidance to government on where to focus its attention in response to the review and in doing so make lasting systemic reform, realising the social and economic benefits that a well-functioning mental health system can enable.

A Charter that defines the core issues that unite the mental health and suicide prevention sector.

A Charter to ensure we all work hard to implement this once in a generation opportunity, the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health.

Warm regards,

Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer 


Vale Leonie Manns

We were saddened to hear of the passing of Leonie Manns this week, a strong and influential leader of the consumer/ lived experience movement from the 1990’s. Leonie will be remembered as an influencer across the sector, nationally with the historically significant National Community Advisory Group Mental Health, THEMHS Conference committee, NSW Consumer Advisory Group, and multiple committees and policy advisory roles and internationally as Chairman of World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry. Leonie was a CEO of MHCC NSW, a recipient of a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship In 1998 ‘To investigate the provision of consumer driven mental health services - UK, USA, Italy’, and besides being a trainer and spokesperson retired into an enjoyable life with friends and family. Her funeral will be held next Wednesday, 18 September at 2pm at the Eastern Suburbs Memorial Cemetery and Crematorium at Matraville, in Sydney.


World Mental Health Day

The 2019 World Mental Health Day campaign is officially underway! 

The more organisations who commit to promoting awareness, the more we reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and play our part in creating a mentally healthy community. 

Looking to attend or host an event on Thursday 10 October? You can do this HERE

You can also make a #MentalHealthPromise. Choose from a pre-written promise or get creative and write your own! Then share the promise amongst your social networks.


Mental Health News

National action on Indigenous mental illness and suicide prevention

The Morrison Government is investing over $5.5 million in an approach that will help two of the nation’s leading mental health organisations reduce suicide rates and improve mental health outcomes for First Australians. 

Read more 

Indigenous leaders welcome $5.5 million social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention initiatives

Indigenous leaders welcomed Health Minister Greg Hunt’s $4.5 million announcement of Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia – a national independent and inclusive Indigenous social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and suicide prevention leadership body – at a Parliament House Poche Indigenous Health Network (PIHN) breakfast this week.

Read more

R U OK? Day

Shadow Minister for Mental Health, Chris Bowen and Shadow Assistant Minister for Mental Health, Emma McBride, say R U OK Day should serve as a reminder to us all to check in with our friends, family and colleagues who may not be doing so well. 

Read more

AASW strongly opposes Newstart drug testing

The mandatory drug testing of Newstart recipients, accompanied by a possible reduction in income support payments, is deeply unethical and does not understand the complex nature of addiction, said Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) National President Christine Craik. 

Read more



On Monday, Harry Lovelock, Director of Policy and Projects will be attending the Parliamentary Friends of Mental Health discussion. The discussion is regarding Mental Health support services for people living with severe and complex mental health issues.

On Tuesday, I will be in Melbourne speaking at the Allied Health Professions Australia Policy Forum to the topic of: Mental Health is everyone’s business.

On Wednesday, the National Consumer and Carer Forum will be meeting with representatives from the Mental Health Australia Board. The Mental Health Australia Board will also be meeting via teleconference later in the day. 

On Thursday, Harry will be attending the next meeting of the National Mental Health Sector Reference Group in Melbourne 


Member Profiles

The Brain and Mind Centre is a group of multidisciplinary research teams at the forefront of brain and mind sciences. They collaborate across industries and disciplines to find answers to some of the world’s greatest health challenges, including: Childhood development and behaviour, such as autism and behavioural disorders. Youth mental health and addiction, including youth, addiction, gambling and mental health policy. Ageing and neurodegeneration, such as dementia, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.
The Brain and Mind Centre represents a virtual network of academics across University of Sydney, Westmead Hospital, Nepean Hospital, Royal North Shore Hospital, Kolling Institute, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, Sydney Adventist Hospital,  Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and the Sydney Local Health District.
Website - 


The Employee Assistance Professional Association of Australasia EAPAA is a National Professional Association with International Affiliation which aims to ensure the highest professional and ethical standards in EAP provision in Australasia. The role and responsibility of EAPAA is to:
- provide guidance for quality control for EAPs in Australasia
- define professional and ethical standards in EAP provision
- to provide recommendations for qualifications and issues of accreditation in service provision
- to provide information and advice to organisations with regards to standards of program design and operations
- to promote the concept and implementation of EAPs throughout Australasian organisations
- to support, provide research, development and training within the EAP profession to provide a forum for networking within the EAP community



National safety and quality standards for digital mental health services

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission), is developing national safety and quality standards for digital mental health services (national standards). The development of national standards is a significant first step in providing safety and quality assurance for digital mental health service users, and best practice guidance for service providers and developers. The Commission will provide draft standards to the Australian Government Department of Health for approval in June 2020.

Read more

Queensland Alliance for Mental Health 2019 Conference

Queensland Alliance for Mental Health is proud to present our 2019 conference: Altering States - Evidence & Effect, 7th & 8th November 2019, Cairns. 

Be inspired by leading practitioners, peers and advocates to:

  • create powerful messages to counter stigma,
  • ​use evidence to strategically drive reform and effectively persuade policy makers, and
  • translate ideas into action.

View the full program here. The keynote speakers include:

  • Catherine McGregor AM | Freelance Writer. Broadcaster. Author.
  • Andrew Dempster, KPMG | Economic Analyst. Mental Health Advisory Consultant. Advocate.
  • Carmel Tebbutt, Mental Health Coordinating Council | Leader. Campaigner. Advocate. 
  • Professor Patrick McGorry AO | Advocate. Researcher. Psychiatrist.

Read more and register

Forum on changes to the Medicare Benefits Scheme

There are a number of changes that will be occurring on 1 November 2019 for Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) items for anaesthesia, colonoscopy, eating disorder services as well as other minor MBS changes. These changes are a result of recommendations from the independent MBS Review Taskforce, following a comprehensive review of the MBS items by clinicians, health system experts and consumers, and consultation with stakeholders.

The Department of Health is hosting an educational stakeholder forum on these changes on:

Date: Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Time: 10:30am – 2.30pm AEST

Venue: Bendigo & Wangaratta Rooms, PARKROYAL Melbourne Airport

Address: Arrival Drive Melbourne Airport, Tullamarine, Victoria

Read more

Network MindOUT Webinar (A Case Study)

Bfriend is one of the last remaining LGBTIQA+ specific services in SA, currently operated by two part-time workers and housed in Uniting Communities, one of the largest NGOs in the state. Best known for its free peer mentoring program that connects LGBTIQA+ people with volunteers from the community, Bfriend has supported Adelaide’s LGBTIQA+ community for almost 25 years. The team will share how the service continues to be a valuable method of supporting folk in the LGBTIQA+ community in SA, and the opportunities available as we look forward into the future and approaches its 25 year anniversary.

Tuesday 17th September, 2019

NSW, VIC, ACT, QLD and TAS: 1pm to 2pm
SA and NT: 12.30pm to 1.30pm
WA: 11am to 12pm


Blue Knot Foundation workshop: The alternate framework to the medical model of mental distress

Listen to John Cromby co-author of the Power Threat Meaning Framework speak about why the framework is going to be a game-changer. Don’t miss the opportunity to take part in this 1 day workshop. 


Date And Time
Friday 1 November 2019
9:30 am – 5:00 pm AWST

Adina Apartment Hotel
33 Mounts Bay Road
Perth, WA 6000 


Date And Time
Wed., 6 November 2019
9:30 am – 5:00 pm AEDT

Aerial UTS Function Centre
235 Jones Street
Building 10, Level 7
Ultimo, NSW 2007


National Mental Health Commission: Consumer and Carer Engagement - a Practical Guide

The National Mental Health Commission is pleased to let you know that the NMHC’s Consumer and Carer Engagement: a Practical Guide is now available on their website. In 2017 and 2018 the Commission formed a Lived Experience Steering Group to co-design with Craze Lateral Solutions the Engage and Participate in Mental Health Project. That project culminated in the release of a summary report and resource database (both available here) and has provided a very useful foundation for continuing work in this area.

As a follow-up to this work, the Commission supported the creation of Consumer and Carer Engagement: a Practical Guide drawing on materials from the Engage and Participate project as well as other work undertaken for the Commission on safety in engagement and participation. The aim was to take the core values and principles identified in our earlier work and transform them into a practical and actionable step-by-step guide to getting started on the road towards engaging and participating with consumers and carers in a way that moves beyond tokenistic tick-box approaches.



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