MHCA CEO's Weekly Update - 19 December

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This Week

Can you believe it? Last update for the year!

What a year it has been.

As 2013 draws to a close it is timely to reflect on our year here at the MHCA - what has been achieved and all that remains to be done.

There are many things we can be proud of.  We have employed a great team of staff here at the Council and they have worked tirelessly over the course of a hectic year.  It seemed like we were in election mode for much of the year, and through our ongoing advocacy and the publication of Perspectives fought to keep mental health on the political agenda.  Our Consumer and Carer team continued their work with the National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum and the National Register and the Consumer Reference Group - advancing the voices of lived experience in so many forums.  Our Policy and Projects team has injected our thinking into the public discourse on many fronts including the NDIS and insurance discrimination.  Our new Chair, Jennifer Westacott, delivered an agenda setting Grace Groom Oration - a stunning event supported by the new MHCA Comms team. New Minister for Health, Peter Dutton MP, participated in the Grace Groom and spent time with members at our Members Policy Forum. World Mental Health Day saw thousands make and share their mental health promises as part of a our new campaign. While all this was happening, members approved a new constitution for the MHCA (to be adopted next year) as we become a company limited by guarantee and we launched a new Strategic Plan.  We built a new www site and member database so that we can communicate more effectively.  Our Admin and Finance Team kept us in good order amidst all the chaos. 

While we can always work to improve, we are well engaged with our members and stakeholders. Just as well, because the New Year will bring challenges for us all. Tightening fiscal constraints are likely to make defending recent gains a challenge, let alone advancing attitudes and spending on mental health to where they should be.  A review of the mental health system to be conducted by the National Mental Health Commission and the report of the governments Commission of Audit are both likely to provide markers early in the New Year.

We do hope the Christmas period is one of rest and rejuvenation for all our friends.  Like you, we know the period can also be challenging for some as we remember loss and separation and things that have not gone well.  But even in the face of these challenges, we can all plan for things to be better next year.  Working together, we hope we can make things better for those who experience mental illness and those who care for them.  We can all commit to improving our own mental health, and discussing our progress with those around us. And in 2014 we can also commit to working together to ensure Australia has the best mental health system in the world. 

NDIS Capacity Building - Information Portal

The Policy and Projects Team have been working hard over the past few months to develop an online information portal for consumers, carers, service providers and NGOs on the NDIS and mental health. The portal is now live on the MHCA website  and contains a substantial amount of information about the Scheme, providing an easy to navigate access point to key information on the NDIS.  One thing members have been telling us is that the NDIS website contains so much complex information that it is difficult to find.  We hope we have addressed that issue and the MHCA NDIS portal covers policy issues, the NDIS Rules, eligibility and assessment, pricing and advice on how to resolve problems.  The portal is intended to be a ‘one-stop shop’ for all information relating to the NDIS and mental health. It will be updated regularly and we welcome contributions from members. If you have any queries about the portal or would like us to post information (eg upcoming events, resources and materials) please contact Travis Gilbert on 02 6285 3100 or at

Letter to the PM

MHCA Chair, Jennifer Westacott, wrote to Prime Minister Tony Abbott this week seeking to advance a range of issues including the NDIS and mental health system reform. Following on from the release of a document outlining the first 100 days of the new coalition government and the mid year budget review, it is an opportune time for us to engage with the government as they set their priorities for the next 12 months.

Pre-Budget Submission

The MHCA is currently putting the final touches on our pre-budget submission to the government. The mid year budget review indicates that there are significant fiscal challenges ahead which places an increased importance on ensuring that the priorities of the mental health sector are fed into the budget process as soon as possible. The government has invited submissions from individuals, businesses and community groups and all submissions should be lodged by 31 January. Our submission will be circulated when finalised. Contact Emily Clay for more information



The Hocking Fellowship - applications open

Applications are now open for SANE Australia’s Hocking Fellowship. This is a new award that offers an opportunity to undertake a Fellowship which promotes a better understanding of mental health. The Fellowship is open to all Australians active in the mental health with the capacity to use what they have learned, including those living with a mental illness, carers and professionals. The winner will receive a grant of up to $20,000 to cover travel, accommodation and associated costs. Applications are due by 28 February 2014. Read More

The Sorter - now featuring in Apps4Change

In great news for our friends at by Inspire Foundation, The Sorter has been added to Apps4Change, an initiative of the Telco Together Foundation promoting mobile apps for social good. If you haven’t checked out The Sorter yet, I would encourage you to download it and have a look. Read more

DLA Piper background paper into Access to Justice

This week DLA Piper released a background paper on access to justice for people with disability in the criminal justice system. This paper will be an important companion piece to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s report on access to justice which will be launched on Wednesday 5 February 2014. Read more

Young and Well CRC Connect 2014

A national conference hosted by the Young and Well CRC will be held in Melbourne on 20-21 February 2014. Connect 2014 will bring together researchers, policy makers, practitioners and young people from across the country for an exclusive insight into the latest research on how technologies can improve youth mental health. Download

Collective Impact 2014: Convene, Immerse, Learn

Collective Impact 2014 will be Australia’s first ever convening of international thought leaders, local experts and collaborators from business, government, not-for-profit and philanthropy sectors. The Conference will explore how to bring this breakthrough model to life in Australia and will be held in Sydney on 25-26 February. More Info

Richmond Fellowship 2014 Asia Pacific Conference on Mental Health

Registrations are open for the Richmond Fellowship’s 2014 Asia Pacific Conference on Mental Health. The conference will be held in Sri Lanka from 27-30 July 2014 and will focus on the growing trend towards psychosocial rehabilitation and new challenges. Read more

TheMHS Summer Forum - register now

A reminder that the TheMHS 2014 Summer Forum will be held on 20-21 February 2014 in Sydney. The forum will discuss workplace health and safety with an emphasis on psychological as well as physical safety for people working in mental health services. For full details including registration information please visit the website. Read more

I will be off for a few weeks now, but will resume the weekly update when I return in late January.

Warm regards and a very merry Christmas and Happy New Year between now and then.


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