MHCA CEO's Weekly Update - 11 April

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This Week

And what a week we had!

This week MHCA Board gathered on Tuesday, our members met all day Wednesday (including a Special General Meeting to complete our transition to new company arrangements), and our members and a a wider group of stakeholders met to discuss the NDIS on Thursday!  

With so much happening in the mental health space at the moment, it was a great week to “check in” with our members and friends about the direction of our work.

There will be many reports to follow once we have consolidated all that we heard, but I’ve provided a brief outline below.

My sincerest thanks go to the MHCA staff who worked so hard to make the events of the week a success for our members and friends.

Board Meeting

The Board meeting was mainly focused on refining our input to the National Mental Health Commission’s review of mental health services and programs - whose call for submissions closes on Monday.

The meeting explored ways to ensure that our efforts in mental health are directed towards prevention and early intervention; have a recovery orientation; provide integration across the range of services required to support a contributing life; and, enhance the economic and social participation of those who expereince mental ill health.

Members Policy Forum

The Members Policy Forum gave us a chance to further explore these themes, and included a long session with David Butt - CEO of the National Mental Health Commission where members were able to engage in a robust discussion about the direction of the review and the future of mental health services and programs.

In addition to discussing Trauma Informed Care with MHCA member Cathy Kezelman from ASCA, we were also pleased to welcome Pia Van de Zandt and Davina Dressler from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Pia gave members an outline of the work of the Royal Commission, noting the impact it will have on the mental health sector and ways we can respond. A fact sheet has been developed by the Royal Commission and MHCA with input from our members, consumers and carers, and will be released soon. For further information about the Royal Commission in the interim please visit the website.
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Dinner with Bryan Dawe

On Wednesday night MHCA members and friends enjoyed a wonderful dinner at the National Press Club.  We were entertained by the entertaining Bryan Dawe (and via video link with his guest Sir Murray Rivers QC).  Sadly Bryan told us that satire is dead - because too many politicians from all sides are satirising themselves!  It was a great break between two solid days of policy work and we are very grateful to Bryan for being such a wonderful guest and to Primary Communications whose support made the event possible.

CONGO Meeting

This year’s Council of Non Government Organisations on Mental Health focused on the NDIS.  We heard from participants in the trial sites, from the NDIA, and from delegates about some of the frustrations and challenges that NDIS implementation is bringing - though we also heard some of the great hopes and expectations that so many continue to have for the scheme.

Delegates helped us to develop a workplan for key activities to support the NDIS roll-out and to develop proposals for how that roll out can best be achieved in a successful and sustainable way.  There will be many more papers to follow on this!

In the meantime, during her presentation Kim Koop, CEO of VICSERV, pointed us to the latest edition of VICSERV’s magazine newparadigm which is devoted to discussing the NDIS. The edition features diverse views and issues including the perspectives of consumers and families of people with mental illness, the National Disability Insurance Agency, agencies at the front line, and researchers who are considering the issues and implications for consumers as well as providers. You can download the magazine from the VICSERV website.

Interview on Sky News tomorrow

For those who don’t sleep in on Saturdays, I will be joining Senator Mitch Fifield and The Hon Jenny Macklin MP tomorrow morning for a panel discussion on Sky News at 8.15am. We will be exploring issues around the NDIS with host David Lipsom.

The future of welfare reform

Minister for Social Services Kevin Andrews attended a meeting yesterday to discuss the future of welfare reform with ACOSS, disability peaks and advocacy bodies on the same day as our CONGO. The MHCA was represented by Emily Clay, our Manager of Policy and Projects. The interim report of the McClure Welfare Review has been provided to government, and is likely to be released soon.  We understand the report focusses on structural reforms, which will go through a public consultation process later this year before any decisions are made.  While the May 2014 Federal Budget is not likely to include structural reforms to the welfare system, it might introduce measures around activity testing and/or eligibility for more recent recipients of DSP. Unfortunately most of the details are ‘budget-in-confidence’ and could not be shared, but we will be seeking further information through another meeting currently scheduled for shortly after Easter. 


Group selected for the 2014 National Mental Health Leadership Project

You may have seen the announcement late last week of the inaugural group of participants for the National Mental Health Leaders Project. The project, being run by the National Mental Health Commission, will support the further development of existing mental health leaders and advocates, and find and develop the next generation of leaders. Congratulations to those selected to take part in 2014. Full details are available on the Commission’s website. Read More

Joint Committee to visit NDIS Trial Sites

The Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee of the National Disability Insurance Scheme will be visiting all four NDIS trial sites over coming weeks. This will be the first opportunity that the newly formed committee will have to talk to people about the rollout of the NDIS. The committee is asking service providers and current NDIS participants and their family members and carers to register for these events. Full details are available on the website. Read More

National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Communications Charter

The National Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Communications Charter is in development through consultations with different mental health and suicide prevention organisations with the Mindframe National Media Initiative as the document’s ‘steward’. Ultimately the Charter will be used to inform the development of communication strategies by organisations involved in raising community awareness about and advocacy for mental health and suicide prevention, and reduce the duplication of efforts that exist in the sector. The latest version of the Charter can be downloaded from the Mindframe website. Read More

Switch Off Social campaign

A campaign focussed on improving adolescent health is being held this weekend. Switch Off Social is asking the public to make a statement about adolescent health and take a break from social media on the 12th and 13th of April. You can get involved in the campaign by fundraising or donating funds and switching off social media. More details are available from the campaign website. Download

National Youth Week

National Youth Week is on right now and concludes on Sunday. You can get involved in a range of events and activities that are taking place in headspace centres across the country. There is a Starcraft 2 gaming tournament and an instagram competition being jointly held with the Black Dog Institute. For full details please visit the headspace website.  Read More

Final call for 2014 LiFE Award Nominations

Nominations for the 2014 LiFE Awards will close on Monday 14 April. This is your last chance to recognise individuals and organisations in the suicide prevention sector who work tirelessly towards a world without suicide. Award winners will be announced at the 2014 National Suicide Prevention Conference in July. Full details are available on the conference website. Download

TheMHS Awards Program - nominations closing soon

Nominations for the 2014 TheMHS Awards Program are closing on 17 April. TheMHS are looking for exciting and dynamic programs or services, and individuals who have made a significant contribution to the area of Mental Health. If this sounds like you, or like someone you might know, visit the TheMHS website and submit an application today. Read More

Discussing anxiety on The Project

You may have seen a segment discussing anxiety on Channel 10’s The Project this week. One of the members of the National Mental Health Consumer Organisation’s Consumer Reference Group, Emily Todorov, shared her experience during the episode which also featured Kate Carnell of beyondblue. To view the segment please visit The Project’s website. Read More

Experiences of services after a suicide attempt - call for survey participants

The National Mental Health Commission, in conjunction with the Black Dog Institute, is currently calling for participants to take part in a research project examining people’s experiences of health services following a suicide attempt. In particular, they are looking for people willing to respond to an online survey. The project is aiming to assess the types, acceptability and effectiveness of services received by people (and by those supporting them) after a suicide attempt. Full details are available from the Black Dog Institute website. More Info

Shaping Solutions: Men’s Health and Wellbeing Conference

This event brings together state and national leaders in the growing field of men’s health for two days of discussion, networking, collaboration and skill building. The conference will be addressing the challenges and current issues in men’s health within NSW and nationally. The conference will take place in Penrith on 1-2 May. Download

Postvention Australia 2014 Conference

The Postvention 2014 Conference will be held from 5-7 June at the University of NSW. This year’s theme is ‘Pathways to Hope and Healing’. The conference will bring together those bereaved by suicide and individuals/organisations working in the field of suicide postvention. Download

Generation Next Seminars

headspace will be attending a series of seminars being held across Australia from May to August. Generation Next is convening the ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing of Young People’ seminar series that aims to raise awareness and understanding of the key issues that children and young people face. Full details are available on the Generation Next website. Read More

Merging Minds Conference - program announced

The program for the third biennial Merging Minds Conference has been announced. The theme for this year’s conference is physical health in the context of comorbid mental health, alcohol and other drug use. The Conference is being held in Wagga Wagga on 13 May and registrations are also now open. Full details are available on the Conference website. Download

Australian Medical Association National Conference - registrations open

The 2014 AMA National Conference will be held at the National Convention Centre, Canberra, from 23-25 May. With the theme, Global Practice: Australian Perspective, the Conference will feature prominent national and international speakers including the Minister for Health, The Hon Peter Dutton MP; Shadow Minister for Health, The Hon Catherine King MP; US Ambassador The Hon John Berry and World Medical Association President, Dr Margaret Mungherera. Download

Warm regards


Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer

T: 02 6285 3100  |  M: 0409 655 460
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