MHCA CEO's Weekly Update - 11 July

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This Week

Primary Health Organisations

This week I attended an information session on the future of Primary Health Organisations - the replacement for Medicare Locals.  The Department intend to call for tender proposals later this year, so that new organisations can be named in February or March 2015 and begin operation in July 2015.

Clearly this transition will be very important to many currently involved with Medicare Locals.  It is not clear, at this stage, how non-GPs, allied health professionals and the broader community mental health sector will be involved in the “GP led Clinical Governance arrangements” that will drive the new organisations.  I would be very interested to hear from members who are involved in (or who wish to be involved in) bids.  I think it is essential that new arrangements give appropriate consideration to how mental health will be addressed in the new organisations.

ACOSS Welfare Reform

On Tuesday Josh Fear and I attended a meeting of community sector organisations convened by ACOSS to discuss the McClure Report.  Along with about 12 other organisations we have agreed to pool information as we work to prepare or submissions to this stage of the McClure review. 

MHCA Survey - experiences with the welfare system - response to the McClure Review

You will have seen last week we released a summary of key issues for mental health in the McClure review.

This week, the Mental Health Council of Australia (MHCA) is looking for consumers and carers to tell their stories about their experiences with the welfare system in Australia.  The policy team have developed a survey so that your stories can be used to help guide a response to the Interim Report on Welfare Reform.  

It is vital that we hear from consumers and carers, and the people that are going to be affected by any change to the welfare system.

We would like to hear your views on areas such as life on the Disability Support Pension and Carer Payment, experiences with Centrelink, and your thoughts about working. Your information will be de-identified and you will remain anonymous. The survey closes on Thursday, 31 July 2014. 

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The MHCA’s summary of the key issues in the McClure Review can be found on our website for you reference.

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Dr Bruce Bonyhady – Press Club Address

On Wednesday, a number of MHCA staff attended the National Press Club address by Dr Bruce Bonyhady, Chairperson of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Dr Bonyhady provided an overview of what has been learned from the trial sites in the 12 months since the launch of the NDIS on 1 July last year.

The address highlighted a number of the opportunities and success stories from the trial sites as well as some of the challenges that have arisen during the early stages of the implementation of this important reform.

It was great to hear Dr Bonyhady speaking directly about mental health at such an important address.

Roundtable Discussion on Welfare Reform

On Friday 11 July, the MHCA’s Manager of Policy and Projects, Emily Clay attended a Roundtable Discussion on Welfare Reform. The Roundtable is part of the consultation process that follows the release of the Interim Report of the Reference Group on Welfare Reform on 29 June. The roundtable discussions and an online discussion forum will enable the MHCA to provide some preliminary views on the Interim Report and feedback on future directions for Australia’s social support system to inform the Reference Group’s Final Report. We will also be providing a written submission.

NAIDOC Week Morning Tea

On Wednesday morning, the MHCA hosted a morning tea to mark NAIDOC week. We were joined by Ngunnawal Elder, Roslyn Brown who gave a welcome to Country and shared some of her life experiences with us. As many of you will be aware, the MHCA is in the process of developing a Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan. Celebrating events such as NAIDOC week are an important part of this process.



Australian Healthcare Summit

The Australian Healthcare Summit will be held on the 15th and 16th of October at the Grace Hotel Sydney.This year’s event is a forum focusing on innovative models of care that form guidelines, industry reform, and policies, plus a focus on health priorities including: diabetes / obesity, ageing, mental, Aboriginal health, and other major health priorities. It will also look at prevention versus cure strategies, and the role of new technology.  I will be addressing the conference on mental health related issues.  Read More

eHeadspace Live information Session

eHeadspace live information sessions provide an opportunity for people to ask professionals questions in an online anonymous environment. This month’s session is on the topic ‘When relationships go wrong’ covering romantic partners, friends, family, teachers and even workmates. The session will run from 5.00 - 6.00pm (AEST) Thursday 17 July. Download

WISE Stand Up for Mental Health

Applications are now open for the first Sydney-based WISE Stand Up for Mental Health (WSMH) program. Run by WISE Employment in partnership with award-winning comedian and counsellor David Granirer, nine budding comedians will undertake three months of comedy classes to develop their own stand-up routines. They’ll perform together with comics from the 2013 Melbourne program at The Sydney Town Hall, 30 October 2014. Using the power of comedy to share experiences of mental illness, WSMH breaks down stigma and creates a once in a lifetime experience for the comics and audience alike.  More Info

AMA Family Doctor Week, 21- 27 July 2014

Family Doctor Week is the AMA’s annual celebration of the hard work and dedication of the nation’s GPs – your family doctors. This year’s theme this year is Your Family Doctor – Keeping you Healthy. The AMA will be highlighting the need for people to look after their health through regular checks with their family doctor for: Immunisations; Glaucoma; Blood Pressure, Cholesterol, and Blood Sugar Levels; Bowel Cancer Screening; Mental Health; Child and Infant health; Pap Smears; Breast screening; and Annual health checks. Read More

World Volunteer Conference

The 23rd IAVE World Volunteer Conference will be hosted in our backyard on the Gold Coast from 17 – 20 September 2014. Hosted by Volunteering Australia, this conference is a must attend event for all those in the volunteering sector including: Leaders and staff in volunteer involving organisations, volunteer managers, Government representatives both Parliamentarians and public/civil servants (especially those engaged in policy making), Corporations engaged in employee volunteering, corporate and social responsibility, and Academics researching in the area of volunteering

With delegates from around the globe and an exciting line-up of keynote speakers (including IAVE President and Co-Chair of the Korea Council of Volunteering, Dr Kang Hyuan Lee, Executive Co-ordinator United Nations Volunteers Mr Richard Dictus, The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, and Aboriginal Affairs specialist Jody Broun) the Conference will highlight both the importance and complexity of volunteering.

Early Bird registrations close 31 July. Download

6th Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium

The 6th Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium offers an invaluable opportunity to build relationships with mental health practitioners. You are invited to join us in Albury from the 12 - 14 November 2014, as a sponsor, exhibitor and/or advertiser. This important event seeks to give a voice to those rural and remote practitioners who are faced with the challenges of limited access to mental health services and support. The symposium will include keynote speakers, concurrent sessions and workshops that develop skills related specifically to the mental health needs of our rural and remote communities, and ways to effectively prepare mental and other health professionals to meet future challenges.  More Info

Lifeline Stress Down Day - 25 July

This year’s Stress Down Day is being celebrated on Friday 25 July. A Lifeline initiative, Stress Down Day is a fun and easy way to reduce stress by encouraging us all to have a laugh. Lifeline have a list of activities that you can do on the day to help raise funds and reduce stress including hosting a morning tea, holding a worst dad joke competition or a team yoga session. Visit the website for more details. More Info

Warm regards (from chilly Canberra!)


Frank Quinlan

Chief Executive Officer
T: 02 6285 3100  |  M: 0409 655 460
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Newsletter, welfare reform