MHCA CEO's Weekly Update - 21 February

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This Week

MHCA Pre-Budget Submission

As you can see if you follow the link at the top of this email, the MHCA policy team has laboured tirelessly for some time now to develop our pre-budget submission. This is always a challenging process. This year the challenge was to recognise the financial constraints that will be a signature of this year’s budget, while also trying to advance the cause for mental health - which has been underresourced for so long. We believe we have found a mix of ‘no-costs solutions’; small investments to continue the reform process; and significant reforms that have been long standing requests with the potential for long-term savings.

Meeting with Senator Fifield (NDIS)

On Monday our Acting Policy Director, Emily Clay, and I, along with David Meldrum from the Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia, met with Senator Mitch Fifield, Assistant Minister for Social Services, to discuss the challenges of incorporating psychosocial disability in the NDIS, and some possible solutions to these challenges. The Minister was already aware of many concerns and seems eager to ensure the implementation process does not result in a reduction of services.

Appearance at the Senate inquiry into the Commission of Audit

On Tuesday morning I was called to Parliament House again, this time to give evidence to the Senate Inquiry into the Government’s Commission of Audit. While this was a highly politicised inquiry, I used the opportunity to reiterate the concerns we have raised in several submissions in recent weeks, including our view that any changes to mental health should be through the review being conducted by the National Mental Health Commission, and that any savings identified should be reinvested back into the mental health system.  A full transcript of the hearing is available on Hansard.  
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TheMHS Summer Forum

On Thursday I visited TheMHS Summer Forum. The forum focused on trauma and the mental health workforce this year and gathered some very interesting perspectives. I’d encourage you to look into future programs.

Communications collective

Our Communications Director Chris Wagner attended the Mental Health Comms Collective in Sydney. Established by the Black Dog Institute and by Inspire Foundation, the event was hosted by the BMRI and included a tour of their incredible facilities. Chris was certainly surprised to discover that this mental health communications managers meeting included a visit to a laboratory full of fish!

Chris also used to opportunity to begin gathering information and interest in a new Members Newsletter being developed by his team. The newsletter will focus on information sharing amongst MHCA members, helping us understand the work and campaigns we are undertaking in our particular mental health fields. Watch this space for more information on the publication over the coming weeks.

Canadian delegation

On Tuesday we were also pleased to host Patrick McGorry and a high level Canadian delegation, made up of philanthropic foundations, leaders in health research and government representatives. The delegation has been on a whirlwind tour, learning about mental health reform in Australia, with a particular interest in youth mental health. It was a pleasure to meet the members of the delegation, and was a valuable opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences about the Australian and Canadian systems.

Joint submission to the ALRC

The NMHCCF and MHCA made a submission to the Australian Law Reform Commission discussing human rights and equal recognition before the law for people with mental illness and psychosocial disability.
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Targets and Indicators

I recently sent an email to members requesting their help in encouraging senior government policy-makers to accept long-term, meaningful targets and indicators to drive mental health reform. Thanks to those who have already written letters of support.  I would encourage all members to use the template letter provided and send it prior the upcoming Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council meeting on March 7. It is especially important that relevant state and territory leaders and Health Ministers understand this position. We would also love to receive a copy of your letter if possible. Please send them to



Understanding psychosocial disability - NMHCCF article

An article discussing psychosocial disability and its impacts has been published in the Summer edition of the Health Issues Journal. Written by the National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum (NMHCCF), the article describes the lack of support that many people with a psychosocial disability, and their families, receive as well as the stigma they face. Read More

New Victorian Mental Health Act

Victorian Minister for Mental Health, Mary Wooldridge introduced a new Mental Health Act to the State Parliament this week. The new legislation aims to put people with mental illness and their families at the centre of decisions about assessment, treatment and recovery. Further information on the new act is available on the website. Read more

Youth Mental Health Symposium - registrations open

Registrations are open for the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists youth mental health symposium being held in Brisbane next Friday and Saturday. The symposium is aimed at youth mental health clinicians and the program will feature areas that deal with either common clinical scenarios or areas in which clinicians will benefit of further development of their skills. Read more

Primary Mental Health Care Conference

Registrations are also now open for the Primary Mental Health Care Conference being held in Canberra on 21-22 March. This year’s conference will focus on the provision of health care that truly integrates physical and mental health and ways in which this can be achieved in primary health care. Read more

AMA Awards 2014 - call for nominations

The Australian Medical Association is currently calling for entries for their 2014 awards. Nominations are due by 28 March 2014 and award categories include the AMA Excellence in Healthcare Award, Women in Medicine Award, Women’s Health Award, Men’s Health Award and a Youth Health Award. Full details are available on the website. Download

Work and Suicide Prevention Position Statement

Suicide Prevention Australia this week launched a position statement on ‘Work and Suicide Prevention’. The statement identifies the workplace as playing a vital role in the creation of a suicide safe community. SPA is calling on organisations of all sizes to implement workplace policies and programs that promote a mentally healthy workforce and prevent suicide behaviours. Read more

Find a Psychologist Service

Do you need to find a psychologist in your local area? The Australian Psychological Society’s Find a Psychologist Service might be what you need. The service is an online, telephone and email referral service for the general public, GPs and other health professionals who are seeking the advice and assistance of a qualified APS psychologist.

Collective Impact Conference

There are still places available at the collaborative workshops that will take place in conjunction with the Collective Impact Conference program. The Conference is being held at the Novotel Sydney next Tuesday and Wednesday. The workshops will allow participants to deepen their knowledge and skills in specific areas of Collective Impact. Read more

Kokoda Challenge - raising funds for Lifeline’s Online Crisis Support Chat service

The upcoming Kokoda Challenge is being organised by Lifeline to raise funds for their Online Crisis Support Chat service, a new online service for people who would prefer to seek help and advice via a real time, one-on-one online conversation. The Challenge will run from 20-30 April and participants will walk in the footsteps of Australian soldiers on the Kokoda Track and take part in a special Anzac Day memorial at Brigade Hill. To donate or for more information please visit the website. More Info

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

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. Read more

Last chance! Applications for Hocking Fellowship close next week

Applications for SANE Australia’s Hocking Fellowship are closing next Friday, 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. Don’t miss your chance to apply for this fantastic opportunity. Read more

Warm regards


Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer

T: 02 6285 3100  |  M: 0409 655 460
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