MHCA CEO's Weekly Update - 14 February

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This Week

Pre-budget Submission

This week we finalised our 2014 pre-budget submission and have submitted it to the Federal Budget process (we will circulate it to members and publicly next week).  It’s no secret that this year’s budget is shaping up to be a very tight one. The policy team have put together a comprehensive submission that provides the government with a range of options for action; some initiatives that would cost nothing; some small investments that would move us closer to reform, and; some major investments that have been on the agenda for a long time. It will be interesting to follow the response. 

Submission to the Fels Review of Mental Health

Last week I noted that the terms of reference for the Coalition Government’s review of mental health had been released. This week we made an initial submission to that review.  While it is uncertain yet how the review will draw input from the sector, we have offered the assistance of the MHCA and ideas on early directions for the review. I will include a link to the submission in next week’s update.

Government review of Australia’s welfare system

On Monday, Emily, Travis and I met with Patrick McClure and his team who came to the MHCA to discuss the Federal Government’s review of the Australian welfare system. We discussed the unique experiences and barriers that people experiencing mental illness have in employment and accessing support through the social security system. We also discussed potential opportunities, such as the peer workforce and the need for new models of support. The MHCA is currently developing our policy position in response to the review, so if you are, or were, on the Disability Support Pension or some other type of employment benefit, please consider sharing your story with us.
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Mental health and insurance discrimination

This week CHOICE published an article on its investigation into mental health and insurance. The article presents both mental health and insurance sector perspectives, and highlights the work of the MHCA and our partners beyondblue over the past ten years to put an end to unfair discrimination in insurance.

On a related note, our work with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) is continuing, with a number of cases likely to go before the Australian Human Rights Commission this year, as discussed by Kate Carnell, CEO of beyondblue, in the media this week.
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Tell your story about insurance here, or for free legal advice, you can contact Michelle Cohen at PIAC ( or 02 8898 6504).

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

Chris Wagner and Jo Huxley visited the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse this week to discuss a new project the MHCA will be involved with over the coming months. The project aims to engage the mental health sector with the work of the Royal Commission and specifically to provide service providers with a range of tools and information to assist them in supporting survivors of child sexual abuse who wish to tell their story. More details on this project will follow.
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Pharma Collaboration

While in Sydney, Chris and Jo also met with one of the MHCA’s Pharma Collaboration partners, Lundbeck Australia. The meeting was a great opportunity for us to hear about some of the important work that Lundbeck are undertaking in 2014 and their commitment to improving health outcomes for mental health consumers and their carers.
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TheMHS Summer Forum and Open Dialogue Workshop - last chance!

Late registrations are still open for TheMHS events next week. TheMHS Summer Forum discussing Trauma and the Mental Health Workforce on 20-21 February and Open Dialogue Workshop with Professor Jaakko Seikkula on 19 February. Both events are being held at the University of Technology, Sydney.  Details and late registrations are at the TheMHS website. Download

Happiness and its causes conference - early bird rates available!

The world’s leading conference on the causes of a happy and fulfilling life! Have an inspiring and productive 2014. Revitalise, refresh, learn, explore, network and be motivated at the world’s leading happiness event – celebrating its 9th year. Explore the varied causes of a happy and meaningful life for yourself and others at Happiness & Its Causes 2014. Early bird registration rates are available until 28 March so don’t miss your opportunity to attend this fantastic event. Download

SANE Australia online communities

SANE Australia is developing Online Communities for people living with mental illness, and for carers too. This exciting new service will allow users to share experiences and help each other. If you are interested in finding out more, or in taking part please contact SANE Australia for more details. More Info

Hocking Fellowship - applications close 28 February

Applications for SANE Australia’s Hocking Fellowship are closing on 28 February. The Fellowship is open to all Australians active in the mental health field including people with a mental illness, carers and professionals. The Fellowship includes a grant of up to $20,000. Read more report - Whenever I Need It by Inspire Foundation released a special report this week that explores the assistance the service provides lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, questioning and intersex (LGBTQI) young people experiencing high psychological distress. The report shows that up to 20,000 LGBTQI young people visit every month. You can download the full report from the website. Read more

My National Voice Website - call for contributions

Arafmi Australia are seeking stories from carers for their My National Voice website. The website will raise awareness of carer issues by publishing personal stories online, and collating these stories for national advocacy initiatives. The website is currently under development and due for launch in mid 2014. Read more

Call for action on mental health and seniors

Professor Allan Fels, chair of the NMHC, says given the links between mental health and aged care and the alarmingly high prevalence of mental illness among older people, explicit recognition is essential. According to a recent report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare more than 50 per cent of permanent aged care residents show signs of depression. Download the full report from the AIHW website. Read more

Australian National Carer Conference - change of date

The Australian National Carer Conference will be held at the QT Hotel Gold Coast from 16-18 November this year. The Conference theme ‘Keeping Carers Connected’ will explore the diverse needs of carers and the capacity of service providers to meet those needs. Full details including important dates can be found at the Conference website. Read more

Minds Matter Conference

The Minds Matter Conference will be held at Coffs Harbour from 3-5 April. The Conference will bring together academic researchers, policy makers, practitioners, service providers, and non-government organisations to consider and discuss mental health issues confronting rural and regional Australia. Read more

International Women’s Day

Carers Victoria is holding an event to celebrate International Women’s Day on Thursday 6 March. The evening includes a three course dinner, keynote speakers and entertainment from the Choir of Hope and Inspiration (formerly known as the Choir of Hard Knocks). Read more

Young and Well CRC Connect 2014

A national conference hosted by Young and Well CRC, Connect 2014 will take place over two days at Melbourne’s iconic Town Hall, bringing together researchers, policy-makers, practitioners and young people from the CRC’s 75+ partners for an exclusive insight into the latest research on how technologies can improve youth mental health. Read more

Construction Industry Inaugural Mental Health Conference

It is well known that suicide is a preventable problem the Australian building and construction industry face. Each year many more workers die from suicide than accidents at work. This inaugural conference, organised by the National Construction Industry Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Committee, will discuss the theme Is suicide a work place health and safety issue? Download

The National Suicide Prevention Conference - call for abstracts

Mark your calendar and plan to join your colleagues for the 2014 National Suicide Prevention Conference 23-25 July in Perth. This is the premier, multidisciplinary, educational event in the suicide prevention sector and the Program Advisory Committee are now calling for abstracts. The focus of this year’s Conference will be to deliver improved outcomes in suicide prevention for those working with vulnerable populations. Download

The Black Dog Institute - participate in research studies

The Black Dog Institute are currently seeking participants for a range of research studies. Studies include investigations into non-medical treatments for depression inculding bipolar disorder, an online self-help program to help people manage suicidal thoughts, intervention for insomnia and positive coping strategies in men. If you are interested in participating, please visit the Black Dog Institute for all the details. Download

The Shed Online

The Shed Online is an online social community targeted at men aged 55+. I’ts a place where men can get to know other men, learn about almost anything and share almost anything. It is based on the concept of a ‘physical’ men’s shed and provides useful information and resources. Download

Orygen Youth Health Self-harm and Suicide Workshop

Orygen Youth Health offers a comprehensive set of youth mental health training packages which have been developed for a wide range of settings and audiences to promote the understanding of mental health and mental illness, and to highlight the importance of early detection and treatment. Download

Mind Shift - the national self esteem initiative

Mind Shift - the national self esteem initiative have recently launched a new website with a range of information and resources. Download

Warm regards


Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer

T: 02 6285 3100  |  M: 0409 655 460
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