What’s the plan for mental health?
Last week, and again this week, we have written to all leaders asking them to outline their plans for mental health policy during the election campaign. Today, Friday 18 April, The Australian Greens have released their policy with a link below. We are still waiting to see clear and considered policy from the Coalition and Labor, and here’s hoping we don’t have to wait too long. You could ask them too – send copies of these letters (links below) and post them on your social media with the hashtag #mentalhealthvotes.
Dear Prime Minister Morrison, Mr Bill Shorten, and Dr Di Natale,
In the lead up to this important election, I write to ask you to lay out your plans for the mental health of all Australians.
Your plans for the one in five Australians who report serious mental illness each year.
Your plans for the children who, with the right support early, might avoid mental illness.
Your plans for those who, while ill today, could enjoy better mental health tomorrow.
Your plans for the workforce who work tirelessly in a fragmented system, often in the face of unreasonable demands and great policy uncertainty.
Your plans for the families and friends who offer unpaid support as carers.
Your plans for workplaces, where lost productivity and lost opportunities for early intervention leave us with greater human suffering and lesser national productivity than we could otherwise enjoy.
As the Treasurer said in his Budget Speech this year, “mental health is an issue of deep concern to all Australians.”
As the Labor party announced recently “we need to take more action on mental health because it is the right thing to do – for Australians living with mental ill health, their families and the broader community”.
As Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said recently “Australians struggling with mental ill health already have the odds stacked against them with insufficient mental health services”.
Australians who will all head to the ballot box in May.
Voters who are all entitled to know what your plans are to address the mental health of all Australians.
And like all Australians, I await your response.
Chief Executive Officer
Link to Letter to the Prime Minister
Link to Letter to Mr Bill Shorten
Link to Letter to Dr Richard Di Natale
Our submission to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into mental health
Last week Mental Health Australia provided its first submission to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into mental health. The submission provides preliminary advice to the Productivity Commission about how to target its Inquiry both in relation to the suite and mix of mental health services needed, and the structures which underpin those services and enable integration across the social determinants of mental health.
Despite numerous inquiries into mental health with minimal impact, Mental Health Australia has welcomed the inquiry with hope because of its unique focus on the impact of mental health on economic and social participation.
Australia’s mental health system has been shaped by our legacy health financing arrangements and as a result investment has focussed primarily on a narrow biomedical model. If the existing mix of mental health governance, finance, services and programs were working effectively, Australians would not be experiencing the levels of social exclusion, distress, illness, lost productivity and premature death that are so prevalent today. Demand for mental health services and programs currently outstrips supply at almost every level of care and for more than a decade, mental health services have been subject to unprecedented uncertainty.
If this Inquiry is successful, in ten years Australians should be able to celebrate how it incrementally but fundamentally changed the landscape of mental health in Australia. It should outline radical systemic reform but also be mindful of institutional stability. Australia should be able to measure a significant increase in mental health, in social and economic participation, in the nation’s productivity and in increased access to mental health services. In order to reach this point, the Productivity Commission will need to consider both the type and mix of services needed and also the intergovernmental governance and finance arrangements required to support the optimal mix of services and programs. The Productivity Commission should make recommendations that acknowledge and build on the strengths of existing services and system structures, while also recommending a planned and orderly transition to new arrangements. The Productivity Commission should also continue to listen to the voices of mental health consumers and carers. Through lived experience expertise the Productivity Commission will be able to better understand the current barriers to realising mental health and begin to envisage solutions that will make a real impact.
You can read the full submission at the Mental Health Australia website here.
Congratulations to Tom Dalton, new CEO of Neami National
Congratulations to Tom Dalton on being appointed the new CEO of Neami International. We look forward to working with him upon his commencement in June this year.
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.
As mentioned above, Mental Health Australia is asking parties and candidates in the 2019 Election to signal their commitment to a range of aims and actions critical to the success of mental health reform in Australia. As such, and in line with our 2019 Election platform, Mental Health Australia is looking for all parties to publish their policy positions and intent around the following issues:
• Permanently embedding arrangements for ongoing, active involvement of consumers and carers in all areas of policy and oversight
• Providing community-based assertive outreach to people who have attempted suicide
• Expanding community-based psychosocial support programs
• Expanding the capacity of the NDIA to support psychosocial disability
• Expanding the paid peer workforce
• Cognitive based therapy and other interventions for children and young people
• Increase uptake of e-mental health early intervention services, and
• Work with employers to improve workplace mental health and wellbeing.
Party responses will be published via an Election Report Card once received.
batyr Board Announcement 2019
A note from batyr Founder and Chair of the Board:
“At the start of the year, at our annual batyr retreat, I had the privilege of doing a Q&A with the team. Whilst we covered many areas one stood out to me: the need for us to continue to ‘fall outwards’. To trust others so that collectively we can continue to seek the positive impact that our community needs. Recently the batyr board implemented a significant change to the structure of batyr that calls on this mentality now more so than ever as we look to better enable innovation and strategy to truly see batyr flourish.
Going forward, we will be appointing an Advisory Panel of industry experts which will help with the strategic direction of batyr. The Advisory Panel will replace the role of CEO. We thank Jon Davies for his dedication to batyr over the last 12 months.”
Green’s launch transformative youth mental health policy
The Australian Greens have unveiled a comprehensive suite of policies that will support young Australians to access high quality mental health services wherever they live. “Around one in four young people have a mental health condition. Of those who develop a mental health condition in their lifetime, 50% do so before they are 14, and 75% before they are 25. That’s why the Greens are strongly committed to early intervention and prevention,” Australian Greens spokesperson on mental health Senator Rachel Siewert said.
Read the full policy here.
Community Mental Health Australia releases ‘alarming’ findings in NDIS Tracking Transitions Phase 2 report
A team from Community Mental Health Australia (CMHA) and the University of Sydney have released alarming findings about the adequacy of support that will be available for people living with serious mental illness outside of the NDIS when three Commonwealth funded mental health programs cease in 2020. The report shows that 50% of people currently utilising the Partners in Recovery (PIR), Personal Helpers and Mentors (PHaMs) and Support for Day to Day Living (D2DL) national programs have not yet applied for the NDIS. More worryingly, only half of those who have applied have been deemed eligible to enter the NDIS.
Read the report here.
Making it matter: Rural people’s health at stake
The National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) has named four key areas an incoming Federal Government must address to help rural Australians get healthier and live longer. They have also listed in detail what needs to be done in each area. The four areas are:
- Improving the health of Indigenous Australians
- Boosting the supply and distribution of allied health care workers in rural, regional and remote areas
- Creating a greater research focus on factors affecting rural health; and,
- Developing a new National Rural Health Strategy.
Inquiry into Sleep Health Awareness important for the ongoing wellbeing of unpaid carers
Carers Australia welcomes the release of the House of Representatives Committee’s Inquiry into Sleep Health Awareness in Australia as an important step towards including sleep as a chief contributor to overall wellbeing. ‘We know that the sleep deprivation experienced by many family and friend carers negatively impacts their own health and wellbeing, not to mention their ability to sustain unpaid care,’ said Ara Cresswell, CEO of Carers Australia.
Labor to invest in community mental health in Higgins
A Shorten Labor Government will invest $4 million in a new Star Health Mental Health Community Hub in Prahran. Labor Leader in the Senate, Penny Wong said, “Labor knows that mental health is a cornerstone of wellbeing. Community providers like Star Health are accessible and understand the people they work with. They are a vital cog in the mental health system.”
Support for youth and Indigenous mental health
The Morrison Government is increasing funding for research and new services to prevent Indigenous youth suicide under a $503.1 million Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan.
Giving Victorians a voice at the Mental Health Royal Commission
The Royal Commission into Mental Health took a major step forward today, unveiling an online portal for all Victorians to share their experiences and tell the Commissioners what matters to them. The new Royal Commission portal – available from Wednesday 17 April – allows people to share their views through a written submission, an audio submission or a video recording. Submissions can be short, or more formal, longer pieces.
New Headspace for Katoomba
The Morrison Government will establish a new headspace in Katoomba to provide innovative mental health support for young Australians in the Blue Mountains. One in four people aged 16 to 24 experiences some form of mental illness every year and three-quarters of all mental illness manifests in people under the age of 25. Intervention at the earliest possible stage is important to reduce the duration and impact. Minister for Health Greg Hunt said Katoomba was identified by headspace National and the local Primary Health Network (PHN), Nepean Blue Mountains as an area of particular need.
Labor’s plan to improve the health outcomes of First Australians
Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, Shadow Minster for Health and Medicare, Catherine King, Shadow Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, Shadow Assistant Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, Patrick Dodson, and Senator for the Northern Territory, Malarndirri McCarthy, say a Shorten Labor Government will prioritise the health and wellbeing of First Nations peoples by delivering a $115.1 million package that will put First Australians at the centre of decision-making - from primary care delivery to health research. They say every Australian, Indigenous or non-Indigenous, should have access to the health services they need, where and when they need them, and that improving the health status of First Australians is critical to the journey towards reconciliation.
Please note our office will be closed over the Easter long weekend period, reopening on Tuesday 23 April, and then closed again on ANZAC Day, Thursday 25 April.
Soldier On provides a range of support services to Australian Defence Force members, Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and other security agency personnel. Soldier On’s mission is to work side by side with those who serve and protect Australia, and their families, helping them to secure their futures. Staff work side by side with individuals and families, to strengthen resilience and develop meaningful connections with family members, mates, and the local community through a diverse range of health and wellbeing services, employment opportunities, learning and education programs, and participation in community, social, and sporting activities.
Website - www.soldieron.org.au/
The Anxiety Recovery Centre Victoria (ARCVic) is a state-wide, specialist mental health organisation, providing support, recovery and educational services to people and families living with anxiety disorders. They aim to support and equip people with knowledge and skills that will build resilience and recovery and reduce the impact of anxiety disorders.
Website - www.arcvic.org.au Facebook - www.facebook.com/AnxietyRecoveryCentreVictoria Twitter - www.twitter.com/ARC_Vic
‘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.
Fearless May Webinar: Let’s talk PTSD
Join Fearless for their next free webinar on Thursday 2 May at 12:30pm and hear from Belinda Neil, an inspiration speaker, author and former New South Wales Police Inspector. The topic for the webinar is “Let’s talk PTSD: the lived experience perspective on early intervention and management strategies.” Register here.
$100,000 in youth-led grants available from FRRR and ABC Heywire
Want to make life better for young people in your community? The FRRR ABC Heywire Youth Innovation Grants are now open, with grants of $10,000 available to implement youth-developed ideas. Groups can apply for seed funding to adopt one of seven ideas, which tackle issues including beating drug addiction, access to health care and supporting Indigenous culture. Applications are open now and close May 14.
Blue Knot Foundation: Introduction to Working Therapeutically with Complex Trauma Clients training
This one-day interactive professional development training provides practitioners with the foundational knowledge and skills needed to work in counselling and/or therapeutic relationships with adult survivors of complex trauma. It presents best practice principles for working with complex trauma clients, drawing on current research in trauma theory and therapy, attachment, affective neuroscience and interpersonal neurobiology. It differentiates complex trauma from single incident trauma (PTSD) and explores the importance of a phased approach for complex trauma clients with a primary focus on safety and stabilisation in phase 1 work.
This training provides essential knowledge, insights and tools to enhance clinical practice and possibilities for recovery for complex trauma clients who present challenges around to ‘adaptive’ coping strategies, arousal, emotional regulation, attachment and safety. This training is designed for practitioners who work in a counselling or therapeutic relationship with complex trauma clients.
Read more and register
Digital Health Agency - Online consultation for all Australians
The Australian Digital Health Agency has opened an online consultation for all Australians, including frontline clinicians, consumers, healthcare organisations and the technology sector to have their say on a more modern, digitally connected health system.
The online consultation is part of a nationwide series of discussions used to co-design the National Health Interoperability Roadmap, which will agree the standards and priorities required to achieve a more modern digitally connected health system in Australia.
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.
ANU Centre for Mental Health Research: Suicide Prevention events
The ANU Centre for Mental Health Research is hosting two suicide prevention events in May, featuring keynote speaker Professor Karine Chevreul, as its second series of Workshops on Mental Health Policies and Suicide Prevention for 2019.
The events are:
- Suicide prevention program evaluation on Wednesday 1 May. Program for the day can be accessed here.
- E-health for suicide prevention - local and international challenges and opportunities on Thursday 2 May. Program for the day can be accessed here.
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.
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.
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).