CEO Update: Vale Tim Fischer, an advocate for country and city people alike

Vale Tim Fischer, an advocate for country and city people alike

Tim Fischer was deputy prime minister in John Howard’s government from 1996 to 1999 and leader of the federal Nationals between 1990 and 1999. He will be honoured and at a State Funeral in Albury (my place of birth) today, and after more than 30 years in public life and office, he will be remembered fondly.

Which is certainly no surprise to me, following my one and only encounter with him.

In 2009 I was among a rag tag bunch of Catholic Social Services staff on a study tour to the UK and Europe.

When we were in Rome, the then first resident Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, Tim Fischer travelled across town on public transport to meet us in an ancient grotto and regale us with stories of politics, railways, and international diplomacy.

He didn’t attend because he had to, not because we were important, but just because we were Australian and he wanted to connect. Generous, funny, honourable, humble. It gave me a great insight into how he represented people. He made an impression, and an impression that has remained with me for a decade or more.

On his sad passing last week, our friends and members at the National Rural Health Alliance penned a tribute, saying “Tim was country through and through… And won the respect of country and city people alike, giving him unequalled authority to speak about issues affecting rural communities”. A true advocate for his community, representing his people.

And you don’t have to look too far back to see the former Deputy PM advocating for young people in rural communities, and for their mental health.

Speaking as the Patron for the Country Education Foundation of Australia (CEF) event in August last year, Mr Fischer helped highlight a University of Newcastle study, published by the Medical Journal of Australia, revealing that stress associated with the drought was more acute in younger people and was affecting their mental health and wellbeing.

The Drought-related stress among farmers: findings from the Australian Rural Mental Health Study found that:

Farmers in NSW experience significant stress about the effects of drought on themselves, their families, and their communities. Farmers who are younger, live and work on a farm, experience financial hardship, or are isolated are at particular risk of drought-related stress. Medical practitioners who provide assistance to farmers and farming communities can contribute to initiatives that relieve stress about drought.

And in introducing the study, Mr Fischer was quick to link the importance of education and the ability to face challenges, to help improve mental health in rural communities. 

“There are many crossroads in life, from teenager to adulthood, from student to workplace, and so forth,” Mr Fischer said at the CEF event in August 2018.

“For country people, these crossroads become even harder to traverse in periods of intense drought and other climate wildcards,” he said.

“This is exactly where the Country Education Foundation has a vital role to play in its interface with students, to help them through the challenges of academic and practical endeavour.”

Vale Tim Fischer, a true advocate for his community, a true advocate for Australia.

Warm regards,

Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer

Sign the Joint Letter to the Prime Minister and our Charter 2020 ‘Time To Fix Mental Health’

Thank you to the 60 + organisations that have already signed our Joint Letter to the Prime Minister and Charter 2020 ‘Time To Fix Mental Health’, as listed below.

The letter is deliberately free of Mental Health Australia letterhead and branding to highlight our collaboration, and with the Charter 2020 ‘Time To Fix Mental Health’, it will become the basis for our advocacy campaign over the coming months, ahead of the release of the Productivity Commission Inquiry Draft Report in November.

We hope to present the Prime Minister with the Joint Letter and Charter 2020 ‘Time To Fix Mental Health’ during the next sitting of the Parliament.

Signatories as at 28 August, 2019

Farewell Liz Crowther, and welcome Laura Collister

We join with Wellways in thanking Liz Crowther for her incredible 24 years of service to the mental health sector as the CEO of Wellways. We wish her all the very best for her future endeavours as she leaves this role. We also join with Wellways in welcoming aboard Laura Collister as the new Wellways CEO and look forward to working closely with her from December. 

Join the Mental Health Australia team!

We have an exciting opportunity for a passionate Senior Project and Engagement Officer to join the team in Canberra, on a full-time basis.

Reporting to the National Project Manager, you will be responsible for developing key relationships and engaging with state and territory mental health services, Primary Health Networks, and other multicultural mental health stakeholders. This position will promote and support implementation of the Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (the Framework) and other elements of the Embrace Multicultural Mental Health Project (Embrace Project).

Read more and apply now

Mental Health News

Uncovering a “hidden disability” affecting one million Australians

There are 1.2 million Australians currently living with a communication disability, which can affect relationships, employment, education and social inclusion. Speech Pathology Australia is already putting a spotlight on this “hidden” disability through the course of Speech Pathology Week (25-31 August), which is well underway. Speech Pathology Australia’s Acting National President, Belinda Hill, said successful communication is the key to quality of life across all ages, which is why this year’s theme is Communicating with Confidence.

Read more

Disability Royal Commission to officially open inquiry in Brisbane on Monday 16 September

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (DRC) will hold its first public sitting in Brisbane on Monday 16 September 2019. All Commissioners of the DRC will be in attendance and will outline the work of the DRC, including its scope, key themes likely to direct the DRC’s initial inquiries, the next steps for the DRC in progressing its work, and how it will ensure people with disability can engage with the DRC.

Read more

Joint Communique - Veterans Ministerial Council

Veteran wellbeing, mental health, homelessness and transition have been the focus of a meeting between federal, state and territory Ministers in Canberra this week. The Veterans Ministerial Council provides an opportunity for ministers responsible for veterans issues from across Australia to come together to discuss how different levels of government can collaborate to support veterans and their families. 

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Joint statement for the inclusion of LGBTI people in the 2021 census

The National LGBTI Health Alliance (the Alliance), the national peak health organisation in Australia for organisations and individuals that provide health-related programs, services and research focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people (LGBTI) is excited to have led an initiative to unite mental health and wellbeing peak bodies across Australia to develop a Joint Statement calling for the meaningful inclusion of LGBTI data in the 2021 Census. 

Read more 

Building a cyber safe world for our children in regional Australia

With one in five Australian children reporting being cyber bullied and the latest research indicating students in regional areas are more susceptible to being bullied online, learning how to be cyber safe has never been more important. Schools, libraries, community organisations and workplaces around the country are working to protect our most vulnerable from bullying by taking part in this year’s National eSmart Week to showcase their commitment to building a cyber safe community and celebrating the positive side of speaking up. 

 Read more



Next week I will be on leave, returning Monday 9th September.

On Thursday, Harry Lovelock – Director, Policy & Projects will be attending the next Mental Health Expert Reference Panel meeting in Sydney.

And on Friday, we will be celebrating Women’s Health Week with a morning tea, and discussions about women’s health in the office. 


Member Profiles

The Black Dog Institute is dedicated to understanding, preventing and treating mental illness. They are about creating a world where mental illness is treated with the same level of concern, immediacy and seriousness as physical illness; where scientists work to discover the causes of illness and new treatments, and where discoveries are immediately put into practice through health services, technology and community education. Vision - A mentally healthier world. Mission - Enabling mentally healthier lives through innovations in science, medicine, education, public policy and knowledge translation.
Website Facebook Twitter Instagram

Connections is a not-for-profit community service organisation that provides individual support, training, programs and advocacy in the support of mental health and wellbeing. Connections vision is to Improve Mental Health in the Community and achieves this by providing relevant evidence-based learning and life skill development programs that assist in the facilitation of recovery. Connections is committed to supporting people to be well resourced and make choices regarding all aspects of their individual support. They encourage the people we work with to make informed decisions about every day and long-term lifestyle issues, and to direct their own journey towards wellbeing and recovery. Each person’s individual needs are identified, and the planning offered will be responsive to these needs. Connections acknowledges its responsibility to respond to the individual need of each client, and ensures that the persons plan is guided by an individual’s goals and aspirations. 
Website - Facebook - 



Wear it purple day - August 30 2019

Wear it purple day was founded in 2010 in response to several young people taking their own lives following bullying and harassment resulting from the lack of acceptance of their sexuality or gender identity.

This Friday, (30th August) wear it purple encourages you to stand up, and stand out in support of LGBTI young people and help save lives.

Read more  

Health Justice 2019

Do you work in mental health? Do you see the broader context of how social and legal problems exacerbate poor mental health? Are you grappling with complexity and wondering how to help people with intersecting need? Then Health Justice 2019 is for you!

Over 24-25 September in Sydney, this highly engaging program will bring together everyone working at the intersections of legal, health and social need: practitioners, researchers, policy-makers, funders and community members; across disciplines, services, systems and communities.


Expert Insight Forum: Exploring attitudes and stigma - multicultural perspectives on mental health and suicide

This forum will share information about best practice when working with members of Tasmania’s newly arrived community members from refugee and humanitarian entrant backgrounds.

When: Friday 6 September, 10:00am – 3:00pm

Where: Tailrace Centre, Launceston

Keynote Speaker: Associate Professor Jill Benson AM


FECCA Conference 2019 - Program now available

FECCA is pleased to announce that the FECCA Conference program is now available for download from the FECCA Conference website.




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