CEO Update - What would a mentally healthy election campaign look like?

More than half a million Australians will experience mental illness during the election campaign.

Sadly, in the same period, some 300 Australians will end their own life. More than eight a day.

If history is a good indicator of the future, the 2019 election campaign is likely to bring us behaviour that in any other context would be considered bullying and harassment.

Behaviour such as: threats, name calling, public ridicule, repeated and unsolicited direct messaging, deception, mistruths, the list goes on.

The experts tell us that Mentally Healthy Workplaces have four key characteristics:

  • Positive workplace culture
  • Stress and other risks to mental health are managed
  • People with mental health conditions are supported
  • Zero-tolerance approach to discrimination.

So what would it mean for us to have a “mentally healthy election”?

Firstly, there would be no insults and name calling, no bad behaviour. Imagine that!

Policies would be proposed, discussed, debated and even constructively criticised with intent to deliver positive outcomes over political gain.

Secondly, we would not be bombarded 24/7 with news, opinion, scandal and negative advertisements. Candidates, their staff, journalists and others would retain their work life balance, rather than working very long days, every day, for the entire campaign.

Thirdly, candidates would be out and about speaking about their own mental health, and the mental health of the community, and the things they do to support it and promote a positive workplace culture.

Lived experience of mental health issues, and of caring for loved ones with mental health issues, would also feature routinely. Opportunities to seek help would also be readily available and promoted widely.

Finally, no policy would be described as crazy or mad, no terrorist would be described as a raving lunatic, no political rival as inept, insane.  If these descriptors were used, in the “heat of the battle” they would be corrected by those that heard them used.

In a mentally healthy election campaign, the focus would be on identifying the need for programs and services and on meeting that need with the appropriate mix of interventions, especially where there are high priority populations and service gaps.

Mental health impacts all of us and knows no political boundaries. It does not understand right, left or centre. It does not discriminate between MP, Senator, journalist, volunteer or voter.

Mental health is not an abstract concept. It is real. And it is affecting one in five Australians annually.

The 2019 election campaign will have an impact on the mental health of many, let’s work together to ensure that impact is a positive and lasting one.

Warm regards,

Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer


Appointment of Harry Lovelock as Director, Policy and Projects

We are very pleased to announce the appointment of Harry Lovelock as Mental Health Australia’s new Director, Policy and Projects. Harry has deep expertise in mental health policy having undertaken executive policy positions at the Australian Psychological Society, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists and prior to that within government. Harry will help to drive Mental Health Australia’s work in relation to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health and other key policy issues. We’re very excited to welcome Harry to the team.

Easter period closure

Our offices will be closed over the Easter long weekend period, reopening on Tuesday 23 April, and closed again on ANZAC Day. There will be several staff absences over this period as well, and we apologise in advance for any delayed responses during this time. 


Productivity Commission Inquiry News

What next? Draft report release and public hearings

Now that submissions are in, the Productivity Commission will seek further information and feedback following the expected release of a draft report at a date yet to be determined.


Mental Health News

NSW’s first non-clinical Suicide Prevention and Recovery Centre (SPARC) to be trialled by Independent Community Living Australia in Sydney 

The Commonwealth Government is providing $1.25 million through the Federal Budget to Independent Community Living Australia (ICLA) to develop and trial a new service providing support and care for people experiencing a suicide-related crisis in a homelike environment in Sydney. 

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Appointment of Andrea Mason as Commissioner for the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with a Disability

The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, has welcomed the appointment of Ms Andrea Mason OAM as a Commissioner for the Royal Commission into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with a disability, announced last week by the Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP. Andrea Mason is a Karoni and Ngaanyatjarra woman from Central Australia with an outstanding record of service and dedication to improving the lives of all Indigenous Australians. 

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NDIS invests $15.5m in Disabled Peoples Organisations and Families Organisations across Australia

The Morrison Government announced over the weekend the 127 disability organisations to benefit from $15.5 million in Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) grants under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Minister for Families and Social Services, Paul Fletcher said the grants will assist Disabled Peoples Organisations and Families Organisations (DPOs/FOs) build organisational capacity, and that of NDIS participants, their families and carers.

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People with disability call for Commissioners to step down

People with disability, their organisations and supporters have called for two Commissioners to step down from their roles with the newly announced Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, and for stronger provisions for all Commissioners about real, perceived and potential conflicts of interest. “We want to make sure that our Royal Commission is trusted by people with disability from across Australia, as a safe place we can tell our stories,” said Matthew Bowden, Co-CEO People with Disability Australia, a member of Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPO Australia). 

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VMIAC: The Seclusion Report

The Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council has just released a new report that ranks 23 hospital-based mental health services, from best to worst, based on how often they use ‘seclusion’. “It’s hard to understand how any mental health service can use seclusion in this day and age,” said Maggie Toko, VMIAC CEO. “Frankly, our hospitals are hurting people and it has to stop. Victoria must commit to eliminating seclusion.” The report is a major initiative by VMIAC which aims to:

- Make information about seclusion more accessible
- Increase accountability on clinical services for harms caused to consumers
- Remind the community of major issues as the Royal Commission into Mental Health (VIC) gets underway.

Read the report here.

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Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety - Forum

Community forums are a way that members of the public can engage with the Commission. Forums are taking place in a number of locations around the country. The forums are an opportunity for members of the public to hear about the work of the Commission and to offer their ideas on the challenges and strengths of aged care. This will also be a chance for anyone to propose ideas for improvement.

The next community forum will be held in Maidstone, West Melbourne on Friday 3 May 2019
from 9.30am to 12.00pm. Commissioners Richard Tracey AM RFD QC and Lynelle Briggs AO
will be present.

Read More 




On Monday I will be participating in a PHN and National Mental Health Stakeholders roundtable working group.

On Tuesday I will be participating in the MIFA Biannual Conference and attending the conference dinner at the Australian National University. I will also be meeting with Mind Australia.

On Thursday I have a teleconference with the National Disability and Carers Advisory Council (NDCAC) Co-Chairs, followed by a meeting with Christine Morgan, the new CEO of the National Mental Health Commission.

The Mental Health Australia office will be closed for the Easter long weekend and reopen on Tuesday 23rd April; it will then close again on ANZAC Day.


Member Profiles

The Society for Mental Health Research (formerly known as the Australasian Society for Psychiatric Research, ASPR) is an Incorporated Association, registered as a health promotion charity with DGR status. The Society aims to prevent mental illness by:
• Arranging a multidisciplinary Australasian forum for presentation and discussion of psychiatric and mental health research;
• supporting and assisting mental health research, and researchers;
• assisting mental health researchers to be informed about research developments;
• facilitating networking, sharing of information and collaboration between researchers of different disciplines of psychiatric and mental health research;
• assisting education, training and raising awareness of mental health issues, particularly developments arising from research; and
• encourage and support the inclusion of psychiatric and mental health issues in the development of health policies, funding and services.
Website Facebook Twitter


Anglicare Tasmania is a non-profit organisation providing a wide range of community services to the people of Tasmania. They are part of the national Anglicare Australia network of organisations. Anglicare advocates for social justice and aids people in times of need. They provide programs relating to health, accommodation, families, substance abuse and more. Anglicare have branch offices, group activities, individual carers and safe gathering spaces throughout Tasmania. Over the years they’ve provided essential help and services to many Tasmanians, and they are consistently monitoring current and future needs.
Website - Facebook - 




‘Easy Read’ election guides for those with a disability

The Disability Advisory Committee (DAC) have finalised Easy Read Guides and Dignified Access to Voting video resources to assist people with disability to enrol and vote.

The Easy Read Guides include:

- How to Enrol to Vote

- How to Vote at a Polling Place

- How to Vote by Mail

The videos include:
Dignified Access to Voting (with Auslan and Captions) 

- Dignified Access to Voting (no Captions or Auslan) 

- Participating in an Election 
- Voting in an Election 

A factsheet on disability and mobility voting can be found here.

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The Mental Health Service Conference - Registration now open

The Mental Health Services Conference is Australasia’s leading and most diverse mental health conference. It will be held this year in Brisbane from 27-30 August. The theme for this year’s conference is “Building Healthy Communities: Stories of Resilience and Hope”. Highlights of this year’s conference include an International Workshop on Suicide Prevention and a ‘Music in Mind’ orchestral performance by the Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University. 

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The Mental Health Service Awards - Apply now

The Mental Health Service Awards are aimed at awarding and recognising best practice, excellence and innovation in mental health service delivery and honouring individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to mental health across Australia and New Zealand. Prizes are awarded in each of the four categories. Winners will receive financial support to attend the 2019 TheMHS Conference in Brisbane (details above) including travel, accommodation and a complimentary 3-day conference registration. The Awards Ambassador for 2019 is the Hon Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO.

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National Mental Health Commission: Peer Workforce Development: - Expressions of Interest for Steering Committee

The National Mental Health Commission has been tasked with leading the development of National Peer Workforce Development Guidelines under Action 29 of the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan Implementation Plan. To develop the guidelines, they are seeking Expressions of Interest from interested and appropriately qualified persons to sit on the project’s Steering Committee. 

The Steering Committee will comprise of a mix of healthcare professionals, including consumer peer workers, carer peer workers, workforce and recruitment specialists, and managers and employers in mental healthcare settings across government, non-government and private sectors.

The EOI process is open now and will close Sunday 28 April

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SANE Forums Topic Tuesday

The next SANE Lived Experience forum will take place on Tuesday 16th April from 7-9pm AESTThis forum will explore how we manage our mental health issues in times where our routine might be different or our comforts aren’t the same.


The next SANE Carers forum will take place on Tuesday 23rd April from 7-9pm AESTThe forum will discuss the manifestation of carer’s guilt in a safe and gentle space and  working through guilt as a carer.

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This Is My Brave Australia: Canberra Mental Health Film Festival - Submissions now open

Submissions are now open for the 2019 Canberra Film Festival.  Qualifying films can have been produced anytime and MUST meet one or all of the following criteria:

- Provides an inspiring voice for social justice and human rights for people with mental illness
- Highlights positive contributions made by mental health recipients
- Fights stigma and defies stereotypes associated with mental illness
- Shares real-life stories of people with mental health concerns

Submitted films may be of any length and genre – documentaries, features, and shorts. 

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FECCA 2019 Conference - Registrations now open

FECCA 2019 will take place in Hobart from 9 - 11 October 2019 and registrations are now open. Early Bird registration rates closes on 12 July 2019 - don’t miss out!

The FECCA 2019 Organising Committee are working on an exciting and innovative program. This year’s participants will hear from new speakers, young people and diverse voices that will shape our multicultural Australia into the future.

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Certification framework and national standards for digital mental health services - survey closes April 26

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission), is scoping the development of a certification framework and national standards for digital mental health services. Certification of services has the potential to build user confidence, increase adoption rates, and increase consumer choice in digital mental health services. 

They have launched their online survey (via Survey Monkey) for anyone who wishes to provide feedback but can’t make it to one of the workshops. The survey is open until Friday 26 April.

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Metro North Health Forum - Save the date

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 year’s forum theme is, ‘Our way to wellbeing’. 

Registrations and exhibition prospectus will be available in May 2019.

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Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan Consumer and Carer Survey - closes April 30

The NMHC is surveying consumers and carers on the performance of mental health services in the past 12 months, to help them understand if the implementation of actions under the Fifth Plan is translating into genuine improvements in their care.

The survey will remain open until Tuesday 30 April. 

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Ehealth for suicide prevention: local and international challenges and opportunities - Register now

The second of two events in the ANU Centre for Mental Health Research’s second series of Workshops on Mental Health Policies and Suicide Prevention for 2019, this event aims to generate joint understanding of what evidence exists and what avenues are open for further progress using ehealth for suicide prevention. 

The event will be held on Thursday 2 May 2019 from 9:30am - 1:05pm at the Innovations Theatre, Anthony Low Building 124 Eggleston Road, Acton. Registration is essential.

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Help shape the National Disability Strategy beyond 2020

Australian governments are asking people to help shape the future of Australian disability policy for 2020 and beyond. Ten years ago the launch of the first National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 (the Strategy) paved the way for how governments could help improve the lives of people with disability. At the end of 2020 the Strategy will end and all Australian governments are working together to develop a new strategy for beyond 2020. The strategy is for all Australians and we encourage people with disability, their families and carers to have their say on the priorities and actions of the next strategy.  

The first stage of consultation is from April to June 2019. 

All consultations are accessible for people with disability.

You can have your say through:
• a public survey (from mid-April)
• face-to-face community workshops in every state and territory (from 29 April)
• online forums (from mid-May).

Read more




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