CEO Update: We need to turn confusion and conflict into consensus

We need to turn confusion and conflict into consensus

In a happy diary accident this week, I had the chance to participate in two separate forums on leadership in times of political change.

The forums included reflections on issues and campaigns for change as diverse as Obama Care, Marriage Equality, Refugee Care, the Raise the Rate Campaign, and many more.

In the midst of these opportunities to reflect, Minister for Health The Hon Greg Hunt MP also convened a roundtable on youth suicide, essentially in order to outline the Government’s commitment to suicide reduction, and to garner views about how these issues might best be progressed in the relatively short term.

At a time when we are considering the next wave of our efforts on mental health reform, my primary reflections on these few days can be summarised in three words: confusion, conflict, and consensus. Three words that tie into the current state of mental health reform.


The environment we are seeking to influence can be characterised by confusion at many levels. Political analysis is no longer as clear as it once was. The recent election saw people we would have once called ‘left’ vote for the ‘right’. People who would have once been called ‘centre’ split to the left and the right. Some on the ‘right’ voted further to the ‘right’. One presenter even told an anecdote of an inner city, apartment dwelling gay couple with an electric car and a vegetable garden on their balcony voting for the United Australia Party!

Our pollsters and media analysts got it wrong, and did not see the reality of what was happening politically.

Campaigns like ‘Raise the Rate’ on Newstart – with support from ‘right’ and ‘left’, from economists, from community organisations, and the community alike, were not successful, despite the apparent, almost universal support.

Other issues, topical this week, like freedom of the press, seem to proceed politically out of nowhere, without apparent popular support or widespread debate. Confusing right?


Some campaigning for political change has been grounded in conflict.

There seems to be a lot of encouragement, including through traditional and social media, to shout at our political ‘opponents’. We shout at them to get them to do something, we shout at them to get them to stop doing things, we shout at them to ridicule or devalue them in order to make way for our own superior view.

We are also encouraged to shout at each other. My view is a higher priority than your view.  If you are getting something, and resources are limited, I shout because I want something too. If you are shouting at each other, then I don’t really need to listen to you, I am just relieved to have a temporary reprieve while you are not shouting at me.

And like seagulls fighting for a few chips – the noise gets ever louder, and none of them notice the number of chips remains the same anyway!


I end my week of reflection on political change with a reinforced belief in the power of consensus.

The successful Marriage Equality campaign was very careful not to shout at its opponents. It sought to give voice to those who had not previously told their stories. It sought out allies rather than enemies. It made its argument that the recognition of the rights that had not previously been recognised, did not have to come at any cost to those who already enjoyed those very same rights.

Many sections of the community who came to the discussion with quite different priorities and different plans for implementation, set aside those differences for a time, in order to achieve the greater good.

As I have said in recent weeks, this is our current opportunity.

Let’s build our consensus. For the most part, real consensus in mental health just means recognising the consensus that already exists on so many key issues.

Consumer, clinician, carer, community worker, right, left, centre, Government, Opposition, Green, Independent, MP, Senator – consensus.

Let’s stop shouting at each other. Let’s collaborate.

And let’s work together to ensure that consensus is realised.

Warm regards,

Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer

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

NDIS Psychosocial Stream

This week Mental Health Australia participated in the third meeting of the NDIS Psychosocial Stream working group. This working group is a joint initiative with the National Disability Insurance Agency following on from consultations undertaken by Mental Health Australia last year resulting in the NDIS Psychosocial Disability Pathway Report. This week the group held productive discussions around: 

  • improving linkages to services outside the NDIS, when people with psychosocial disability are found to be ineligible to receive a support package through the scheme 
  • encouraging the uptake of the peer workforce by NDIS participants with psychosocial disability
  • psychosocial disability practice guidance for NDIA and partner staff.

Mental Health Australia is continuing to advocate for the needs of the sector through this tangible process and is encouraged by the NDIA’s genuine efforts to improve the scheme’s capacity to meet the needs of people with psychosocial disability. 

Submission to Productivity Commission Inquiry into mental health on cultural diversity

Mental Health Australia is proud to have partnered with the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) and the National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA) to produce a joint submission to the Productivity Commission’s mental health inquiry. This submission highlighted issues and opportunities related to mental health for Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds. It aims towards an equitable mental health system which reflects and responds well to the needs of Australia’s multicultural population. You can read the full submission here.


Mental Health News

ACT budget and mental health

The ACT Government’s budget was handed down earlier this week. The ACT’s Minister for Mental Health, Shane Rattenbury, has produced a media release outlining the budget’s relevance to mental health. 

Mental Health Community Coalition ACT have published an analysis of the mental health aspects of the budget, which can be read here.

Queensland government embraces the Way Back support service

Beyond Blue welcomes the Queensland Government’s plan to join the Commonwealth and Beyond Blue in funding an innovative service that supports people after a suicide attempt. The Way Back Support Service, developed by Beyond Blue, delivers personalised support to people for up to three months after they’re discharged from hospital following a suicide attempt. This is a high-risk period for reattempts. Beyond Blue CEO Georgie Harman welcomed Queensland Health and Ambulance Services Minister Steven Miles’ announcement that next week’s State Budget would include $7.5 million over four years to expand The Way Back in Queensland. 

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Psychologists urge action to close mental health service gaps

Thousands of Australians vulnerable to mental health disorders are falling between the cracks because they lack access to affordable treatment and care options, according to Australia’s peak psychology body. An estimated 45 per cent of all Australians experience a mental illness in their lifetime, but less than half will access treatment. The Australian Psychological Society (APS) President Ros Knight said while the Government’s increased focus on mental health was encouraging, the mental health needs of a significant number of Australians were not being met under current Medicare arrangements.

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Child and youth mental health report: Victoria

Victoria’s Auditor-General, Andrew Greaves, this week tabled a report in the Victorian Parliament: Child and Youth Mental Health. Mental illness is the number one health issue facing young people worldwide. One in four Australians aged 16-24 will experience mental illness in any given year. For children and young people, intervention early in life and early in mental illness can reduce its duration and impact. Without access to mental health services, young people are at risk of ongoing problems that may affect their engagement with education and employment, and lead to greater contact with human services and the justice system. 

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Morrison Government awards $5m for eating disorder research

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, says the Liberal National Government is providing $5 million for ground-breaking research into the early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of eating disorders. Around 1 million Australians live with an eating disorder. They are extremely complex illnesses, and have one of the highest mortality rates of any psychiatric illness. The projects funded under this initiative include a specific focus on using digital solutions to prevent the onset of eating disorders, and on transforming our health system to enable earlier intervention, so that individuals have the best chance of recovery.

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The Mental Health Australia office will be closed on Monday, due to the Queen’s Birthday Public Holiday. We will reopen on Tuesday. 

On Wednesday, the Mental Health Australia staff will be participating in some Diversity Training in our office presented by A Gender Agenda, on understanding Sex and Gender Diversity.

On Thursday, Harry Lovelock - Director Policy and Projects, will attend an NDIA National Mental Health Sector Reference Group meeting in Melbourne, and I will be attending the National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum face-to-face meeting in Adelaide.


Member Profiles

United Synergies is a not for profit organisation established in 1989. Everything they do is dedicated to building better lives. United Synergies support people of all ages with:
• Child and family relationships
• Education support
• Employment
• Homelessness
• Mental health
• Support after suicide
United Synergies support people across Southern Queensland from their sites in Tewantin, Maroochydore, Toowoomba and Caboolture. They also provide support after suicide to individuals and communities across Australia.
Website - Facebook - 


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.
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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SANE Forum June Topic Tuesdays

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Key date for research grant opportunities

The 2019 Suicide Prevention Research Fund Grants Program is well underway.

Innovation Research Grants Expressions of Interest period opened on 15 May and close on 15 June. Applications for the PhD Scholarships and Post-Doctoral Fellowships open 1 July 2019.

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ABC’s Trailblazers program - apply now

Applications for the ABC’s Trailblazers program opened on Tuesday 4 June! Trailblazers is a program supporting young leaders doing great things in regional Australia. Winners receive a package of support including having their story told on the ABC, a trip to the Heywire Regional Youth Summit in Canberra and mentorship and media support.  


ABC is looking for people aged 18-28 who are working on a project that strengthens regional communities. Individuals or groups of up to three can apply. Applications close July 5.

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Help provide a voice for young people around My Health Records

Orygen has maintained a continued dialogue with the Australian Digital Health Agency about the need for appropriate communications and means of communicating with young people about My Health Record. The 14-17-year-old age group has been identified as a particular priority, given that they take individual control of their Record at this age. These young people thus need appropriate information to make decisions around the management of their Record. Similarly, parents and guardians and other important adults need support to have meaningful conversations with young people about My Health Record.

They have now been engaged by the Australian Digital Health Agency to assist with the design of tailored communications to 14-17 year olds about My Health Record. They intend to consult with young people and their parents and guardians across the country through an online survey and face-to-face workshops.

Information on the surveys can be found directly below; Orygen are also we are calling for interest in collaboration on the in-person phase of the project. Please contact Sophie Prober at if your organisation is interested in being involved, or if you have any questions, and she will be happy to discuss further.

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Orygen survey on My Health Record

Are you between 14 and 17 years old, or the parent, guardian or carer of a 14-17-year-old?

Orygen would like to hear from you in a short online survey!

My Health Record is a digital platform that stores your health information. From the age of 14, you can take control of your own Record. 

Orygen are currently looking for 14-17 year olds and parents, guardians and carers of 14-17 year olds to share their views. These surveys will help them learn about what you already know, what you would like to know, and how you would like to get that information. They should take under 10 minutes to complete.

Young people can access their survey here.

Parents can access their survey here.

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Webinar on mental health and value-based care

On 24 June, the AHHA’s Australian Centre for Value-Based Health Care is pleased to present a free webinar with Robert McGough, Partner at Hill Dickinson LLP, discussing “Implementing value based healthcare procurement and contracts in the UK and Europe”.

Rob’s presentation will review the experience of the UK and Europe on the adoption of outcomes and value-based models including challenges and case studies in areas where this has been implemented and the lessons learned.

He will draw on his experience working with the Lambeth Living Well Alliance on a project which aimed to deliver integrated, high quality, affordable and sustainable social care and NHS-funded healthcare services to people with mental health and complex life problems in the London Borough of Lambeth, an area which has the highest rate of psychosis in the UK

Read more 

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