CEO Update - Will the PC Inquiry provide clarity and certainty in an otherwise uncertain time?

Will the PC Inquiry provide clarity and certainty in an otherwise uncertain time?

Over the coming weeks we will edge towards a Federal Budget, and then a Federal Election, where many things will be uncertain, some things unclear and definitely a lot of things under pressure. Because that’s the nature of politics and the state and federal environments in which we operate.

Election campaigns, and care-taker periods interrupt real and lasting reform, but this year is different. Different for the mental health sector that is. This year we have opportunity to contribute to real and lasting change for the sector as a whole. Change that can be bigger than a new or returning government or Minister.

While the major and minor parties, and the increasing number of independents for that matter, will hit the streets campaigning for votes, the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health will continue in full swing.

As Australians head to polls in May, the PC Inquiry will have already begun sifting through the many submissions and brief comments from organisations and individuals, into how an improved mental health system will not only help people in our community, but help the economy.

This remains my Number 1 hope for this Inquiry. The hope that at the end of this 18 month process, when the report is delivered in May 2020, there is lasting clarity and certainty for a mental health sector that has too often operated under pressure, underfunded, and under resourced to meet the need in uncertain political times.

The need for mental health services and support has never been greater. The Productivity Commission Inquiry is the biggest opportunity yet to address these issues at both a federal and state level combined.

Next Tuesday, when Members and delegates of Mental Health Australia meet in Canberra at our first Members Policy Forum of the year, the PC Inquiry will be top of the agenda. 

Assistant Commissioner Rosalyn Bell will be in attendance to listen to our concerns and to outline the process and timelines, as well as answer any questions ahead of the first key date – with submissions due on Friday 5 April. 

This week, we also announced that following the success of our Investing to Save report released last year, Mental Health Australia we will be partnering KPMG again, this time on our submissions to the Productivity Commission Inquiry.

Many of you will have noticed the Investing to Save report is now frequently referenced in articles on mental health, particularly in relation to the Productivity Commission Inquiry, with its most recent appearance in the Australian Parliamentary Library Guide to Mental Health. 

Working with KPMG, Mental Health Australia’s first submission to the Productivity Commission Inquiry will comprise two parts:

  1. Our expectations of the Productivity Commission and its final report, and 
  2. The ideal governance and financing arrangements that provide cross-portfolio and cross-jurisdictional responsibilities and accountabilities.  

KPMG will use their global network and expertise to support our submissions by:

  1. Delivering a presentation to the Productivity Commission on the measures in the Investing to Save report that can be scaled up to achieve substantial downstream savings
  2. Conducting a local and global evidence review of innovative and best practice service delivery models
  3. Identifying the best intergovernmental governance and financing arrangements to achieve integrated social and mental health policies and services, and long term funding arrangements for them. Outcomes previous inquires have not managed to secure.

These submissions, as well as the many more currently being prepared by Members, stakeholders and individuals in the sector will go a long way to informing the Productivity Commission Inquiry and helping shape the certainty and clarity we need in the mental health sector.

A true once in a generation opportunity in an otherwise unpredictable time leading up to, during, and immediately after a Federal Election

Warm regards,

Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer

National Multicultural Mental Health Project
Help contribute to a new name and brand!
Take the five minute SURVEY TODAY 

The National Multicultural Mental Health Project provides a national focus on mental health and suicide prevention for people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.  
This new Project builds on the important work of previous national multicultural mental health projects (e.g. Mental Health in Multicultural Australia [MHiMA], and Multicultural Mental Health Australia), and works towards an equitable mental health system which reflects and responds well to the needs of Australia’s multicultural population.
Project activities include:
•    Providing support for organisations to evaluate and improve their cultural responsiveness through further development and promotion of the 
Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia
•    Establishing, maintaining and promoting a quality-assured knowledge exchange and repository platform on the project’s website
•    Increasing mental health awareness, knowledge and capacity in CALD communities.
•    Mapping available evidence-based resources and tools and from these findings, identifying priorities and developing new resources and training

More information about the Project can be found here

Mental Health Australia is working together with the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Council of Australia and National Ethnic Disability Alliance to deliver the project, and we are seeking your thoughts, feelings and ideas on the brand values and a new name for the National Multicultural Mental Health Project.

Naming & Branding Activity - Take the five minute SURVEY

We welcome your contributions to the discussion and development of a new name and brand that will capture the essence and identity of the National Multicultural Mental Health Project.

Click here to take the five minute survey by Friday 15 March 2019.

Thank you and farewell to Belinda Highmore

On behalf of the Mental Health Australia Board and all of our staff I would like to thank and congratulate Belinda Highmore on her work and contribution to Mental Health Australia for the last two years. Belinda has worked in health policy more broadly for more than 25 years, and has been an incredibly valuable asset to Mental Health Australia. She played big role in our Investing to Save report with KMPG, as well as our recent work around the NDIS Psychosocial Pathway Project. We wish Belinda all the best with her impending tree change and early retirement to the Bega Valley, and thank her again for her commitment and dedication to the often slow and unrewarding task of health policy. Thanks and good luck Belinda. You leave behind an enormous legacy of improved health care for all Australians.


Productivity Commission Inquiry News

What has the Commission been asked to look at?

This inquiry will examine the effect of mental health on people’s ability to participate in and prosper in the community and workplace, and the effects it has more generally on our economy and productivity. It will look at how governments across Australia, employers, professional and community groups in healthcare, education, employment, social services, housing and justice can contribute to improving mental health for people of all ages and cultural backgrounds.
The Commission will be consulting widely, including in regional Australia. They are also considering how to most effectively receive input from particular groups such as consumers and carers. Find out more here – with initial submissions due by Friday 5th April 2019



Mental Health News

$1.2 Million for Indigenous Youth Health in Victoria through the Real Healthy Program

The Liberal National Government will provide $1.2 million to help hundreds of young Aboriginal people in Victoria to lead healthier lives, with a focus on nutrition, fitness, wellbeing and mental health. The funding will support the Korin Gamadji Institute (KGI) to establish three regional Real Healthy hubs in Melbourne, Mildura and Albury Wodonga, providing 300 young people with cultural connection, nutrition, mental wellbeing, mental health first-aid training and fitness services.

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$1.75 Million to kick health goals outside the locker room

The successful Outside the Locker Room sport, school and community support program will undergo a major expansion across Western Australia, thanks to a $1.75 million funding commitment from the Liberal National Government. The program, founded by former AFL player Jake Edwards, provides participants with strategies to build respect and combat social and mental health challenges, suicide, addiction, gambling, bullying and domestic violence. Minister for Health, Greg Hunt said the Government is committed to ensuring Australians of all ages have access to the support they need to face life’s challenges.

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Better patient care in mental health: Nurse to patient ratios

A Daley Labor Government will introduce nurse-to-patient ratios in mental health units in the State’s hospital system - as part of its Mental Health policy. This will dramatically improve patient care, reassure family members and support hard working nurses and other hospital staff. This was announced by NSW Labor leader Michael Daley and NSW Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord. Mr Daley will make the announcement at the NSW ALP campaign launch today.  
Read More

COAG Health Council Meeting Communique

The Federal and State and Territory Health Ministers met in Adelaide last week at the COAG Health Council to discuss a range of national health issues. Ministers discussed: National Medical Workforce Strategy, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Medical Workforce Plan, Roadmaps to address high priority health issues for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People , National Health Reform Agreement, Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy: 2019 and Beyond, Professional Indemnity Insurance for Privately Practicing Midwives, Update on ageing and aged care matters, Update on National Missions under the Medical Research Future Fund, NDIS, Mental Health Services, Tobacco industry issues.
Read More




On Monday we will holding a Board Induction day with new Directors in Canberra.


On Tuesday more than 70 delegates from some 50+ organisations will join us at Old Parliament House in Canberra for our first Members Policy Forum of the year to discuss the upcoming Federal Election, the Productivity Commission Inquiry and much more.


On Wednesday we will hold a board meeting at the Mental Health Australia office in Canberra while on Thursday I will be attending a Mental Health Reform Stakeholder Group Meeting also in Canberra.


Member Profiles

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGPis Australia’s largest professional general practice organisation and represents urban and rural general practitioners. They represent more than 35,000 members working in or towards a career in general practice. The RACGP’s mission is to improve the health and wellbeing of all people in Australia by supporting GPs, general practice registrars and medical students through its principal activities of education, training and research and by assessing doctors’ skills and knowledge, supplying ongoing professional development activities, developing resources and guidelines, helping GPs with issues that affect their practice, and developing standards that general practices use to ensure high quality healthcare.
Website - Facebook - Twitter

WayAhead – the Mental Health Association NSW plays a vital role in the development of mental health initiatives, the provision of information,  support and advocacy which increases community awareness and knowledge of mental health issues. With the support of their board, staff, members, volunteers and students, they work towards a society free from prejudice and discrimination against people living with mental illness. They strive towards a society that understands, values and actively supports the best possible mental health and wellbeing for all people.
Website - Facebook - Twitter - Instagram - 



Draft Terms of Reference for a Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability

The Australian Government has announced the beginning of a public consultation on the draft terms of reference for a Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.
The consultation seeks feedback on issues that may be confronting and distressing. Sometimes words can cause sadness or distress, or trigger traumatic memories for people, particularly people who have experienced past abuse or trauma.
Have your say on the Terms of Reference
You can have your say on the Terms of Reference by completing a public survey.
The survey will be open from Wednesday, 13 March to Thursday, 28 March 2019.
Please note this survey is to inform the Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission and the supports that might be needed during the Royal Commission.

Read more

Certification framework and national standards for digital mental health services

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. The certification framework will support ongoing safety and quality assurance for digital mental health services, including those listed on the Australian Government’s digital mental health gateway Head to Health. The Commission will report to the Australian Government Department of Health in June 2019 on options for certification and national standards for digital mental health services.
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ESSA stays committed to continuous progress of exercise and the benefits for mental illness


Last year Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) stated that Australians deserve a responsive and strong health system that not only puts individuals at the centre of care when treating mental health, but that addresses the health gaps in our nation, providing a fair go for those who need it the most.
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WHO Quality Rights Initiative

The WHO QualityRights initiative is working to improve access to quality mental health services globally and to promote the human rights of people with mental health conditions and psychosocial, intellectual, and cognitive disabilities.  As part of this initiative they are developing a good practice guidance document which will present information on community-based mental health services that promote human rights and the recovery approach.
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Sane Forums Topic Tuesday’s in March

Being a Carer in a Regional Community – Tuesday 19th March from 7pm AEDT

Featuring a special guest from ARAFMI! this topic Tuesday will explore the challenges faced by Carers in regional and often isolated communities.

Loneliness in smaller communities – Tuesday 26th March from 7pm AEDT 

Living in smaller communities can be aligned with so many wonderful things. You might be near nature, enjoy the comfort of familiar faces or perhaps relish in more down time. On occasion, living within smaller communities can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, especially for young Australians. This Topic Tuesday we will be joined by a SANE Youth Peer Ambassador, Nicole. Nicole will draw on her lived experience, relevant to those of all ages, and we will be discussing ways to enhance our sense of connectedness within smaller communities. 
Read more





Mental Health Australia is a proud member of an Alliance of national organisations leading change to promote and create mentally healthy workplaces – strengthening our community and our economy. Chaired by Lucy Brogden, Chair of the National Mental Health Commission, the Alliance brings together business, unions, the mental health sector and regulators to promote mentally healthy workplaces. We know work has a profound impact on our mental health and with 12.6 million Australians employed, it is an idea place to prevent mental illness and help people recover when they are unwell.  

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