MHCA CEO's Weekly Update - 23 May

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MHCA Media Release

This Week

DSP Facts

We distributed a media release and key issues brief this week in an effort to address a range of misconceptions about people who experience psychosocial disability and their access to the Disability Support Pension (DSP). The brief also discusses the possible impacts of changes to the DSP as announced in the recent Federal Budget. You can download the media release and key issues brief from our website, and please feel free to distribute it through your networks.

Yesterday I was interviewed as part of the ABC’s PM radio program to discuss the front page of the Daily Telegraph which co-opted the ANZAC tradition to depict disability pensioners as slackers and I registered my disappointment with a major media organisation stigmatising vulnerable people in such a way. You can listen in or view the transcript here.

Our Director of Policy and Programs, Josh Fear, also spoke with Lyndal Curtis on ABC News24’s Capital Hill program about the DSP more broadly and the segment (which begins at the 16 minute mark) can be viewed here.

NMHCCF and National Register Annual Issues Workshop

The National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum (NMHCCF) and National Register are currently holding their annual two-day workshop which is a great opportunity for consumer and carer leaders and advocates to discuss current issues, learn from each other, network and develop new skills to increase their effectiveness as representatives. I addressed the workshop yesterday and today Josh Fear is joining the group to discuss the NDIS. Kylie Wake and Kathryn Sequoia from our Consumer and Carer team are also attending the workshop. There has been a lot of great discussion on a number of topics, including current opportunities and challenges in the mental health landscape for advocates, peer workforce, trauma informed care, the NDIS, recovery and stigma.

Changes to DSS Grants

The Department of Social Services (DSS) this week announced substantial changes to its grants funding program. The changes include streamlining 18 discretionary grant programs into seven and applications for grant funding under the new arrangements will open on 19 June. I think it is very important for mental health organisations, consumers and carers to be thinking about how to be involved in these bids now, as I understand grants will be awarded for up to 5 years.  An explanation of the changes is available on the DSS website.
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Budget Update

Also on Wednesday, Josh heard Treasurer Joe Hockey provide a budget update to community sector stakeholders at an event organised by ACOSS. Naturally a great deal of concern was expressed about proposed changes to welfare, which could see many people with mental health issues fall further into poverty. On a positive note, people at the event were surprised to learn about the Treasurer’s preference for ‘permanent contracts’ instead of the usual short term arrangements that community-based providers have grown to expect. We would be delighted to hear more from the Government on that note!

National Mental Health Leaders Project

As I reported in my update two weeks ago, the first workshop of the inaugural National Mental Health Leaders Project was held in Sydney on 5-6 May. The participants have released a communique that provides some background to the project as well as outlining their shared commitment to supporting and driving change. The communique can be downloaded from the National Mental Health Commission’s website.

New members

The MHCA is pleased to announce that three new members have recently joined us. Mental Health First Aid Australia have joined as a full member and the Movember Foundation and Break Thru People Solutions are now both associate members. We are looking forward to working closely with these important organisations over the coming months. If your organisation is interested in joining the MHCA and collaborating with more than 130 other member organisations please visit our website for more details.
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Make a mental health promise

As flagged in a previous update, the MHCA is partnering with Australian comedian Felicity Ward as part of this year’s World Mental Health Day campaign. Felicity is filming a documentary to be aired on ABC2 on October 7 and as part of the program she has pledged to face her fears and fly in a stunt plane if we can achieve 3000 mental health promises. So we need your help! Please visit the website and make a mental health promise to yourself (or two!). We have around 400 promises to go to meet Felicity’s goal so help us spread the word among your colleagues and friends.
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World first Twitter tool to monitor the world’s emotions

Our friends at the Black Dog Institute launched a very exciting new tool this week that aims to measure, monitor and possibly even predict, the prevalence of different emotional states across the world. Called ‘We Feel’, the tool analyses around 6000 tweets/sec for emotional content. While the visual representation it produces is fascinating, the potential power of this tool cannot be underestimated. For full details please visit the We Feel website. Read More

Tell them they’re dreaming - report from Orygen Youth Health

An important report discussing employment marginalisation of young Australians suffering mental illness was released by Orygen Youth Health Research Centre this week. Conducted in February and March 2014, the report examines labour market outcomes, educational attainment, employment services for job seekers and the barriers facing young people with mental illness looking for work. The report also looks at the effects of employment as a recovery tool and suggests any evidence-based models to improve rates of employment among young people with mental illness. More Info

Heads Up campaign launched

A campaign to support Australian businesses to create more mentally healthy workplaces was launched this week. The Heads Up campaign is powered by the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance (of which the MHCA is a member) and beyondblue. The Heads Up website is the central point of contact for all individuals and offers simple, practical information including interactive tools and resources. For more details or to help spread the word please visit the website. Read more

National Reconciliation Week

Don’t forget that 27 May to 3 June is National Reconciliation Week. The week is a time to build better relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians. As discussed in previous updates, the MHCA is currently developing a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and as part of that process we will be celebrating Reconciliation Action Week with a staff morning tea that will include a screening of the National Apology to the Stolen Generation. There are many things your organisation can do to get involved in the week so visit the website for some great ideas. Download

AMA Conference live stream

The Australian Medical Association’s National Conference is taking place this weekend in Canberra. Speakers at the Conference include the Hon John Berry, US Ambassador to Australia, the Minister for Health, the Hon Peter Dutton MP and Shadow Minister for Health, the Hon Catherine King MP. For those who can’t attend the Conference, key sessions are being live streamed and you can also follow the discussion on Twitter via the hashtag #amanc14. Further details can be found at the AMA website. Download

ACOSS Budget Analysis

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) released an analysis of the Federal Budget this week. The analysis shows that people on low and middle incomes will carry the overwhelming burden of repairing the budget. To read the full statement from ACOSS or to download the analysis please visit their website. Read more

Move to mandatory use of PIN

The Industry Security Initiative, a collective of Australia’s major financial institutions and card schemes, has announced that PIN will become the main form of card payment authorisation in Australia from 1 August 2014. This move will potentially have a major impact on a range of people with special needs including those with cognitive impairment. Alzheimer’s Australia has been advocating for alternative arrangements on behalf of consumers who have expressed concerns that the mandatory use of PIN will add further barriers to people living with dementia in going about daily activities such as shopping and banking. Further details about Alzheimer’s Australia’s advocacy on this and other issues is available from their website. Download

Mind and Its Potential Conference

A reminder that the MHCA has secured a 20% discount rate for our members to attend this year’s Mind and Its Potential Conference from 27-28 October in Sydney. Members need to register before 27 June to take advantage of the discount.The conference features 30+ world renowned international and local speakers and attendees will discover how individuals, organisations and companies can do extraordinary things to improve wellbeing and productivity. The discount code was sent to members in this week’s Media Summary, if you didn’t receive it please contact the MHCA office. Download

Working with adult survivors of complex trauma - workshops

Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA) has announced a new series of upcoming workshops for health practitioners. The workshop addresses the nature and impacts of unresolved childhood trauma and is suitable for psychologists, clinical psychologists, counsellors, psychotherapists, mental health nurses, social workers, GPs and psychiatrists working clinically with adult survivors of complex trauma. Full details can be found on the ASCA website. Download

Warm regards


Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer

T: 02 6285 3100  |  M: 0409 655 460
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