MHCA CEO's Weekly Update - 4 April

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National Mental Health Commission Review

This Week

Ongoing mental health funding

As you will be aware, it has been of concern to the sector for some time now that the advent of the NMHC Review of Mental Health, and the uncertainty leading up to the 2014 Commonwealth Budget could see existing mental health programs caught in something of a hiatus – funding for existing programs expiring in June 2014 but uncertainty about future funding awaiting the outcome of the Review.  Members will also be aware from previous updates that the MHCA, along with others from the sector, has made various representations to Minister Dutton and other Ministers to flag these concerns and to encourage some early decision making to provide certainty to the staff of those programs and to the consumers and carers who utilise them. MHCA Chair Jennifer Westacott raised these concerns with the Minister at their first meeting at the end of 2013 and we have continued to correspond with the Minister since that time.

I am very pleased to report that as recently as yesterday, organisations who were contracted to provide services in the 2013-14 financial year have begun to receive communication that their program funding has been extended for 12 months, at existing levels, in order to allow services to continue while the Commission’s review is completed. This decision affects programs like PHaMS, ATAPS, the Mental Health Professionals Network and others. Other budgeted programs (like Better Access) continue unchanged until decisions in the budget or future policy announcements bring about any changes. While no formal announcement on the details of the programs affected has been made, we will provide further details as they emerge.

At a time of great uncertainty this is tremendous news for service users and for the sector, we applaud the Minister and the Government for considering the concerns of the sector and moving to provide some considerable stability for workers and consumers alike. The sector is eager for reform, but ensuring that services are made available to people during such reform is essential.  This is also, perhaps, an illustration that these issues do not always need to be played out in the media to receive serious attention from the Government.

Eddie Bartnik appointed to the NDIA

We also welcomed the announcement yesterday that Eddie Bartnik has been appointed as a strategic advisor on mental health to the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA). Mr Bartnik has extensive experience in both mental health and disability, especially through his recent work as the WA Mental Health Commissioner. His appointment indicates that the Federal Government is taking psychosocial disability very seriously in relation to the NDIS and while there are a still a number of issues to be worked through, this is an important step in ensuring better outcomes for consumers and carers and making certain they have genuine choice and control over the services they need.
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Consultations for co-designing the best mental health system in the world

The policy team have begun speaking to some members and other stakeholders about developing a vision for the best mental health system in the world (MHCA’s Flagship 1 Project).  We have been delighted by the response and the input received to date, and at our Members Policy Forum next week we will have the opportunity to explore these issues with our members.

World Suicide Prevention Day and Mindframe media resources

Our Communications Manager, Jo Huxley, attended two workshops in Sydney this week. On day 1, participants worked with our good friends Suicide Prevention Australia to discuss this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day campaign. The 2014 campaign is shaping up to be a fantastic event you will hear more about it in the lead up to the day on 10 September.

The Hunter Institute of Mental Health hosted a dinner event to launch the new Mindframe National Media Initiative’s resources for media professionals. The resources are an extremely valuable tool to assist media professionals and journalists in reporting on suicide and mental illness. Language has a huge impact on the way we think about an issue and de-stigmatizing the conversation around mental health is so important for all of us to recognise and implement. You can download the resources from the Mindframe website and view our media release about this issue here.
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Mindframe hosted day 2 of the workshop and participants considered a new Communications Charter that will assist all organisations in the sector to develop consistent language and key messaging about mental health. Both days were well attended by representatives from a range of mental health sector organisations and demonstrate the value of sector collaboration.

1010 campaign gets a major boost

We are pleased to announce a partnership with Screentime Australia, to help us promote the World Mental Health Day campaign in 2014. Chris Wagner, Director of Communications, has been working with Screentime on a TV documentary starring comedian Felicity Ward to be screened on ABC 2 in October. Filming has begun, and we are encouraging everyone to go to and make a mental health promise. The more promises we get, the more challenges Felicity will do, while she interviews comedians about mental health and wellbeing.  We hope this means World Mental Health Day will receive more attention in the mainstream media this year.
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Dinner with Bryan Dawe

We are also very excited about our guest speaker for next week’s Member and Stakeholder Dinner. Brought to us by our friends at Primary Communication, top Australian comedian Bryan Dawe will be sharing his brilliant ‘satirist’s journey’ with diners. The event is for delegates invited to our Members Policy Forum and CONGO meetings.

NMHCCF report

The National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum (NMHCCF) have circulated the report from their recent meeting held on 17-18 March 2014. I encourage you to view this report on their website as it informs consumers, carers and other stakeholders about NMHCCF meeting activities.

Staff Personal Efficiency Program training

Over the last 12 months or so, the MHCA has developed a partnership with PEP to help us with personal efficiency and organisation in the office. By helping PEP induct new trainers, we have enjoyed the full PEP training program at significantly reduced rates. Our friends at PEP have indicated that they are keen to expand their training into Melbourne, and Brisbane and are looking for small organisations that they could support. I’d be pelased to discuss the arrangement with members attending the MPF next week.

PHARMA Collaboration

This week we met with our Pharma Collaboration partners to discuss the progress of the collaboration and work we are doing on early intervention and prevention. It is encouraging that the work is making such good progress as it will have implications well beyond the use of medicines.

Australian Child and Adolescent Trauma, Loss and Grief Network

This week I also met with our friends from the Australian Child and Adolescent Trauma, Loss and Grief Network. The network supports research and collaboration in early childhood trauma and provides resources and training that I am sure will be of great interest to many members.



The National Suicide Prevention Conference - call for abstracts closing soon, don’t miss out!

The call for abstracts for oral and poster presentations for the National Suicide Prevention Conference has been extended until Friday 23 April. The Conference will be held from 23-25 July in Perth and will focus on delivering improved outcomes in suicide prevention for those working with vulnerable populations. Don’t miss your opportunity to contribute to this important event. As part of the Conference, the 11th Annual LiFE Awards will also be presented. Nominations for the awards are open and full details are available on the Conference website.  Read More

Submissions invited to the Senate Community Affairs inquiry

Submissions to a new inquiry by the Senate Community Affairs inquiry are now open. The inquiry is focused on the out-of-pocket costs in Australian healthcare and are due by 12 May 2014. Submissions can be made online and for the inquiry’s full terms of reference please visit the website. Download

Perinatal depression and anxiety - 7.30 Report

An interesting insight into perinatal depression and anxiety was screened on the ABC’s 7.30 report this week. It is estimated that depression and anxiety affects as many as one in seven new mothers in Australia and the economic cost of leaving the illnesses untreated is estimated at over half a billion dollars a year. Our member organisation, the Post and Antenatal Depression Association (PANDA) is taking a lead role in raising awareness of this important issue. To view the episode please visit the 7.30 report website. More Info

Suicide increase demands renewed effort - SANE Australia

SANE Australia this week commented on the latest ABS report on Causes of Death in Australia that revealed more than 2,500 people died by suicide in 2012 - the highest number for the past ten years. Jack Heath, CEO of SANE Australia discussed the findings with Fran Kelly on ABC RN Breakfast and the SANE Australia media release on the issue can be found on their website. Read more

Medical students launch campaign to safeguard refugee mental health

This weekend the Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) is launching its latest campaign, AMSA For Refugee and Asylum seeker Mental health (AFRAM), which will focus on safeguarding the mental health of refugees and asylum seekers under Australia’s care. The campaign’s launch event will be held at The Spot, Melbourne University from 12.30pm tomorrow. Full details about the event or the campaign can be found on the AMSA website. Read more

The National LGBTI Health Alliance - MindOUT! training

As part of its MindOUT! training series, the National LGBTI Health Alliance will be presenting the Equal Not Same: Towards LGBTI Inclusive Practice Workshop across Australia. The workshop will define what is meant by inclusive practice for LGBTI people and put forward a rationale for the need for mainstream services to consider their responsiveness to LGBTI people. Read more

LGBTI Mental Health Conference - June 2014

In other news from our friends at the National LGBTI Health Alliance, registrations are now open for their upcoming LGBTI Mental Health Conference. The conference will be held in Sydney on 26-27 June and is the first of its kind in Australia. Delegates will examine the individual and social determinants that impact on the mental health outcomes of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people. Research and programs that have been undertaken in Australia to address mental health and suicide in LGBTI communities will also be showcased. Read more

Activity Based Funding Conference 2014 - program announced

The program has been announced for this year’s Activity Based Funding Conference, to be held in Melbourne from 23-25 June. The conference will focus on applying Activity Based Funding (ABF) at the local level as Australia continues to implement ABF in public hospitals. A call for abstracts is also open, full details are on the website. Read More

Save the date - 6th Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium

The number of Australians experiencing mental health problems in rural and remote areas is estimated to be comparable to major urban centres. However, the rural and remote community faces a greater challenge with limited access to mental health services and support. The Symposium theme, The Practitioner’s Voice, seeks to give voice to those practitioners who are faced with these challenges on a regular basis. The Symposium will be held from 12-14 November in Albury NSW. Full details are available on the website. Read more

TheMHS Conference registrations now open

Don’t forget that registrations for this year’s TheMHS Conference are now open. This year’s theme is “What We Share Makes Us Strong” and the conference will explore topics relating to real, on the ground experience. The conference organisers are very excited to welcome Dr Pat Bracken, Clinical Director of the Mental Health Service in West Cork, Ireland, as a Keynote Speaker in Perth. Full details are available on the website. Read more

Warm regards, I hope to see many of you next week!


Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer

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