CEO Update: For what they have done, this we will do

For what they have done, this we will do

When the Australian Defence Force (ADF) established the COVID-19 Taskforce earlier this year to assist with the whole of Government response to the pandemic, it was on top of supporting many communities through the bushfires of last summer, and the regular operations that see thousands of men and women posted all over the world - from Afghanistan to Amberley – to serve us.

In the air, on the ground and at sea, our Defence Force personnel often go unseen and unheard, unless they are helping out closer to home – be it flood, fire, or in this case knocking on doors during quarantine or administering border crossings at blockades.

What also often goes unnoticed is the personal impact of their service, whether at war, or on the front line of an emergency response. And that all veterans who have returned from ‘active service’ are still very much part of our communities – some are even still serving.

This week is Veterans’ Health Week and the theme for 2020 is social connection and checking in on a mate. An important message for this year, but it’s also important to understand what we mean when we talk about veterans.

Generally when we think of veterans, images of poppies, legacy badges, ANZAC Day parades and last posts probably come to mind. But in 2020, following active service in the Middle East alone for nearly two decades, there are more and more veterans aged in their 20s, 30s, 40s and then more after that.

Veterans who are rebuilding careers, relationships and new lives after their service. Veterans starting families, growing families or losing families, and importantly veterans who are still serving their country, or still ‘in’ as they say in the ADF

On the battle field the mantra of ‘never leaving anyone behind’ has been embedded in Australian folklore and is often linked to that idea of mateship and honour.

Which is why beyond the field of battle I often feel there is a disconnect when it comes to supporting the ongoing mental health and wellbeing of our veterans, and doing everything we can for those who have done just that for us.

Last week Mental Health Australia and Suicide Prevention Australia provided a second joint submission regarding the establishment of a National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention.

In the submission we strongly supported the objectives of the legislation to set up this new Commission, and outlined a number of ways in which it could be strengthened in relation to: data collection, supporting a whole-of-life wellbeing approach, focusing on transition from the defence force to civilian life as a particularly vulnerable time, connecting people who are bereaved with postvention support, and supporting a whole of government approach.

And of course we highlighted that the insights of veterans themselves should be utilised in improving supports and that the Commissioner should explore systematic ways of embedding the insights from the lived experience of veterans at key points, including and especially during transition.

We also note that the Australian Defence Force has indicated that personnel transitioning from military to civilian life will be better supported with $17.7 million provided for the establishment of the Joint Transition Authority (JTA) as announced in the 2020-21 Budget.

By no means is this new-found policy insight or advocacy from Mental Health Australia, and it is work many organisations such as our members at Solider On have been highlighting for years. But like a lot of things in 2020, the emphasis and what ‘we will do’ appears to be far more direct and clear, and in this case will be backed up by the National Cabinet establishing a Taskforce on Veterans’ Wellbeing in recognition of the challenges faced by our current and ex-service personnel.

And perhaps it’s poignant and timely that the Taskforce will convene at the first meeting of the National Federation Reform Council on 11 December, just one month after Remembrance Day, and another opportunity to acknowledge all veterans for their contribution.

Have a good weekend.

Leanne Beagley



On Monday I’ll be attending an online Black Dog Deliberative Dialogue discussion on Suicide Prevention and later will be meeting with Tania Rishniw (Deputy Secretary) Commonwealth Department of Health.

On Tuesday morning we’ll be having our regular monthly catch up with the National Mental Health Commission and also joining our team in welcoming Candice Jones starting with us as Manager Consumer & Carer Programs.

On Thursday I’ll be attending a National Mental Health Workforce Strategy Consumer and Carer Roundtable meeting.

Then on Friday I’ll be talking part in a panel discussion as part of the Continuity of Care Collaboration and also meeting with the team from the Society for Mental Health Research.


Embrace Multicultural Mental Health News

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. 

Are you looking for resources and information about mental health to support your community?

Community organisations, community leaders and multicultural mental health advocates in Queensland are warmly invited to attend a free video forum on addressing mental health.

Embrace Multicultural Mental Health (the Embrace Project) will be holding a free video forum for QLD multicultural communities to provide you with resources and information on how to address mental health in your community.

The interactive session will provide you with the opportunity to:

  • Learn about the Embrace Project
  • Hear real mental health stories from members of our consumer and carer group and learn about support available
  • Ask questions and discuss mental health in a safe environment
  • Receive information and resources to address mental health in your community

Event Details:

Who is this event for: Community leaders, community organisations and multicultural mental health advocates in QLD

Date: Thursday 5 November

Time: 6:00pm – 7:30pm

Cost: Free

Zoom webinar

Please register for the workshop here:


Mental Health News

Better transition outcomes for veterans

Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel transitioning from military to civilian life will be better supported with $17.7 million provided for the establishment of the Joint Transition Authority (JTA) as announced in the 2020-21 Budget.

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NT psychiatrists call for action now on mental health neglect

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) Northern Territory Branch has called on the NT Government to take a cue from Churchill and ‘action this day’ the rescue of Mental Health Service funding from decades of neglect.

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Melbourne’s biggest mental health charity walk goes virtual 

Melbourne Virtual Coastrek participants have been training in their backyards, inside their homes and on local streets as they prepare to walk 60km or 30km to raise funds for Beyond Blue. On Friday 30 October, more than 900 people will participate in the first virtual Melbourne Coastrek, within Victoria’s current restriction levels. 

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Staying social and fit in Veterans’ Health Week

In a big boost for Veterans’ Health week, the NSW Government has partnered with Veteran Sport Australia (VSA) to bolster programs for veterans to participate in community sport and recreation.

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New statistics demonstrate need for mental health support in schools

New statistics on student to professional support staff ratios reinforces Labor’s calls for increased mental health support for young Tasmanians.

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National network of Mental Health First Aiders

Australians who support veterans and their families are being trained as ‘Mental Health First Aiders’ through free training offered by Open Arms - Veterans & Families Counselling and ex-service organisations around the country. 

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Dementia rises to second leading cause of death for men

Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, overtook lung cancer as the second leading cause of death for men and remained the leading cause for women in 2019, data released this week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows. 

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Member Profiles

Australian Association for Developmental Disability Medicine
Australian Association of Developmental Disability Medicine (AADDM) is an organisation of medical practitioners who specialise or have an interest in improving the health and function of the over 500,000 Australian children, adolescents and adults with ID. AADDM aims to improve the health of children, adolescents and adults with intellectual and developmental disability through professional development and advocacy. AADDM has been and continues to be a major contributor to government policy with a remarkable history of successful advocacy leading to widespread changes in healthcare delivery throughout Australia.

HelpingMinds offers quality and confidential mental health support to the family and friends of people living with mental health challenges across WA & Darwin. We also help people navigate the NDIS system and are a registered NDIS provider.



How well would you rate your LGBT inclusive service provision?

The Health + Wellbeing Equity Index (HWEI) is a suite comprising of an annual benchmarking index and two surveys, to measure LGBT-inclusion in health, human services and wellbeing organisations.

  • Free entry
  • Baseline your LGBT-inclusion
  • Measure your growth year-on-year
  • Free report on your results
  • Open to every organisation – FREE
  • Anonymous (if you wish)
  • Optional staff & service user surveys
  • Gap analysis of your current inclusion initiatives
  • Index broken down in to Basic, Intermediate and Advanced submissions – complete whichever suits your organisations
  • Provides exemplars of best practice.

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End of Year Funding for Women’s Leadership Development Available

Residual funding is available to support the development of female leaders across Australia’s health care sector.  The initiative is providing women with grants of between $1,000 and $5,000 to enable participation in one of three programs that cover such things as elements of a successful team, communication, presence and influence, driving performance, problem solving and decision making, and progressing diversity and inclusion.

The scholarship funding is provided with the specific intent of providing powerful and effective development opportunities for health care sector women but has to be allocated by the end of 2020.

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Take our surveys: Use your expertise and experience to inform the National Mental Health Service Planning Framework

The National Mental Health Service Planning Framework Project Team at the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research are seeking the support of you and your networks to complete short online surveys on a range of topics related to the mental health services that are needed by the Australian population. 

The aim of these surveys is to generate expert consensus about the mental health service needs of the Australian population. The results of these surveys will be used to inform the Australian National Mental Health Service Planning Framework which is a tool designed to help mental health service planners to plan, coordinate and resource mental health services that will meet the needs of people living in Australia. 

Please click on the links below to find out more information and take part in the surveys: 

Free bipolar booklets for your local community

To celebrate Mental Health Month, Bipolar Australia is offering FREE copies of our Coming Home with Bipolar: Information for Families and Carers booklet to local organisations and groups who support people impacted by bipolar disorder.

Coming Home with Bipolar is a comprehensive 40-page resource which has been designed to reduce stigma and promote better communication among family members about the condition. The booklet was developed with the support of the NSW Mental Health Commission and Mental Health Carers NSW

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