CEO Update: Will the pandemic be a game changer for homelessness in our communities?

Will the pandemic be a game changer for homelessness in our communities?

Can we change the way things are done? Of course we can, and wouldn’t it be great if when we are able to look back on the coronavirus pandemic, we can say ‘WOW! What a game changer it was for homelessness in our community and for real policy and procedural change.’

At the start of the pandemic the ABC reported some 7,000 homeless people were provided housing in hotels, motels and empty student accommodation around the country.

It was a service, and logistical exercise, that involved many of our members who provide care and ongoing support to some of the most vulnerable in our community.

Last week, amidst the rising number of positive cases of COVID-19 in Melbourne, the Victorian Government extended their program that will now see some 2,000 rough sleepers have somewhere safe to stay, right through until April 2021.

And with similar programs being run in other states, anecdotal evidence suggests that service providers on the ground are seeing much improved results around outreach, and the longer term goal of finding permanent housing for their clients. 

Ironically, at a time when communities are more isolated than ever before due to lockdowns and physical distancing requirements, these quick, simple and cost effective housing measures appear to be helping some of our most isolated to re-connect with the communities in which they live. 

The measures have also highlighted new and increased questions around the amount of public housing available, the need for more, and the fact that building more will create jobs, a statement confirmed in the call to action for Homelessness Week (#HW2020) - ‘support more social housing to create jobs and help end homelessness’.

New data released this week by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that social housing, as a proportion of all housing stock in Australia, has continued to decline over the past decade. At the same time Homelessness Australia and Everybody’s Home  released new heat maps this week confirming significant shortfalls in social housing in every federal electorate across Australia. Their campaign is calling on all federal MPs to sign a social housing pledge – with a commitment to invest in social housing to tackle homelessness and create jobs.

It’s a smart, two pronged approach to tackle a key social determinant for mental ill-health as well as stimulate the economy.

These policies and quick decisions will also help stem the potential for increased numbers of people becoming homeless as a result of the pandemic.

But they are also changes that can make a long term difference for mental health and wellbeing of those who might have otherwise found themselves without a home, sleeping rough and experiencing alienation within a community.

Have a good weekend.

Leanne Beagley

Response to Adult Mental Health Centres consultation

Last week Mental Health Australia provided a detailed response to the Department of Health’s Consultation Paper – Service Model for Adult Mental Health Centres. This response includes feedback provided by members at the Mental Health Australia Mini Members Policy Forum last month.

Mental Health Australia strongly supports the establishment of services to address the current gap in mental health services for adults experiencing complex mental health needs or mental health crisis, and providing a safe alternative to attending an Emergency Department for such care. However as it stands, Mental Health Australia believes the Consultation Paper does not provide a clear enough framework on how the proposed Adult Mental Health Centres will deliver on this vision.

Read the response here

POSITION VACANCY: Manager Consumer & Carer Programs

This is a great opportunity to become involved with an organisation that is dedicated to driving better mental health for all Australians.

  • Excellent opportunity with a national organisation

  • Full-time position to 30 June 2022, with potential for ongoing

  • Very attractive remuneration package, including charity salary packaging options

  • Supportive, family-friendly work environment

Reporting to the Deputy CEO, the Manager Consumer & Carer Programs is responsible for:

  • facilitating the business of the National Mental Health Consumer & Carer Forum (NMHCCF), which includes providing secretariat, policy and project support.

  • managing the relationship between Mental Health Australia and the NMHCCF, through a trustworthy and trauma-informed approach.

  • strengthening policy and advocacy positions and capacity for mental health consumers and carers working with Mental Health Australia.

Read more and apply here



On Monday I’ll be meeting with Mentally Healthy WA and the Public Health Advocacy Institute of Western Australia as well as having a catch up with the National Mental Health Commission on Vision 2030.

On Tuesday I am meeting with Dr Ruth Vine, Deputy Chief Medical Officer. We’ll be working with Mind and the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) on the Trajectories Research policy development process, while on Wednesday I’m looking forward to meeting with Maree McCabe, CEO at Dementia Australia and after that with Alison Verhoeven from the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association.

On Thursday, the Executive team and I will catch up with our colleagues at Suicide Prevention Australia, while on Friday I’ll be chairing Meeting #2 for National Mental Health Workforce Strategy Working Group, looking at Rural and Remote Mental Health.


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. 

On Wednesday 5 August we held a webinar on Service Module 3 of the Framework: Working Together to Promote Mental Health in Multicultural Communities. This module explores effective engagement with multicultural communities and stakeholders, in addition to mental health promotion and suicide prevention in a multicultural context.

With over 80 participants, the webinar was highly productive and very interactive with lots of questions and comments from participants. 

Our next webinar will be held on Wednesday 14 October where we will be exploring Module 4: Building a Culturally Responsive Mental Health Workforce. Watch this space for registration details closer to the date.

Multilingual COVID-19 messages for those in Melbourne and beyond

Great to see the North Western Melbourne PHN have released a series of short videos in community languages on COVID-19. A simple and engaging way to get the message out.

Read more


Mental Health News

Additional support for people with severe mental illness during the COVID-19 pandemic

The Australian Government is providing an additional $2.6 million to assist Victorians with severe mental illness whose access to psychosocial supports has been impacted by COVID19

Read more

Victorians turn to Beyond Blue during pandemic

Two in three contacts to the Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service are now coming from Victoria. Over the month of July, about 64 per cent of calls and webchats to the Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service came from people in Victoria.

Read more

Additional COVID-19 mental health support

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, says the Australian Government will provide 10 additional Medicare subsidised psychological therapy sessions for people subjected to further restrictions in areas impacted by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more

Australians urged to join global study of COVID-19 mental and physical health impacts

Australians are invited to participate in the world’s largest survey of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on physical and mental health, to generate new insights that can drive better health policies and investments. 

Read more

Mission Australia’s 20-25 Strategy

Mission Australia has launched its new 20-25 Strategy with the vision of creating an Australia where all of us have a safe home and can thrive.

Read more

We need certainty in mental health investment

With a State of Disaster declared in Victoria and a small – yet persistent – number of new cases still emerging daily in NSW, it is imperative governments continue to provide sustained new investment in mental health to meet variable and changing circumstances.

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Global mental health leaders call for structural reform for crisis care

Australia joined with other nations on Tuesday 4th August 2020 to release the first ever International Declaration on Mental Health Crisis Care giving healthcare leaders, governments and community organisations a blueprint for quality mental health crisis care that should be available for everyone, everywhere, every time it is needed. 

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Practical steps to support veteran mental health

General Practitioners (GPs) across Australia now have access to a new 24/7 hotline to assist them in supporting the health and wellbeing of veterans. 

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Lifeline is here for Victorians 24/7 during increased lockdown

Lifeline Australia Chairman, John Brogden made a plea to Victorians to reach out to Lifeline to speak to a Crisis Supporter as the weight of new and stricter lockdown rules extend the impact on people’s mental health. 

Read more

First dynamic modelling of national suicide prevention strategies released

Dynamic modelling by researchers from the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre has revealed key findings that show what strategies are required to help prevent suicide in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic impacts on mental health.

Read more


Member Profiles

The Royal Flying Doctor Service is one of the largest and most comprehensive aeromedical organisations in the world, providing extensive primary health care and 24-hour emergency service to people over an area of 7.69 million square kilometres. Delivered by a dedicated team of professionals, using the latest in aviation, medical and communications technology, and supported by a vast number of volunteers and supporters, the RFDS is vital for those that live, work and travel in rural and remote Australia. Mission - To provide excellence in aeromedical and primary health care across Australia.
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Centacare Catholic Family Services strive to support people in the community who have been marginalised and who are experiencing hardships and challenges in their lives. For the past 74 years, Centacare has worked to help people reach their full potential so they can participate in the community, regardless of their circumstances. Today this commitment underpins the 80 community services they deliver in 35 sites across the Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide, in metropolitan and regional South Australia.
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Looking after your mental health during coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions

The impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, physical distancing and isolation can make us feel anxious, stressed and worried. Read about what you can do to look after your mental wellbeing and look out for those around you as we tackle these challenges together.

Read more

National Counselling and Referral Service (Disability)

The National Counselling and Referral Service is now not only supporting people affected by the Disability Royal Commission. It is a key trauma-informed support for people with disability, family members, carers, advocates and workers who have experienced or witnessed abuse, neglect, violence and exploitation during these difficult times. Anyone who wishes to access this support does not need to make a submission or have any prior involvement with the Disability Royal Commission.

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Brain and Mind Centre Road to Recovery Report

The Brain and Mind Centre at the University of Sydney has released a report with new modelling on strategies to support mental health during the recovery phase from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Read more

Working Collaboratively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People: A Guide to Culturally Safe Practice

The Mental Health Coordinating Council is pleased to release its Guide to Culturally Safe Practice when working with Australia’s First Nations People. It is a valuable addition to resources at a time when First Nations people in Australia are highlighting the need to take action to end discrimination and improve access to services.

The Guide is a useful tool for promoting equitable and effective community support, and helps organisations embed a practice approach that is culturally appropriate and assist workers to engage respectfully with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Guide has been developed to assist organisations supporting Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people foster respectful, collaborative meaningful relationships. The handy two-page guide highlights the importance of acknowledging history, listening and communicating thoughtfully, to create welcoming environments and help breakdown barriers to service engagement

Read more


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