MHCA CEO's Weekly Update - 7 March

Mental Health Council of Australia Header

This Week

Meeting with the National Mental Health Commission

This week Jennifer Westacott and I met with David Butt and Georgie Harman from the National Mental Health Commission to discuss the review of mental health.  

We had a very frank (no pun) and wide ranging discussion about the direction of the review that the Commission is conducting, and the ways in which the Commission and the MHCA may be able to cooperate on key areas.

It was clear from the discussion that the Commission has understood many of the key issues that we have previously advocated:

  • The need for fundamental systemic reform
  • The need to identify and agreed vision for a world class mental health system
  • The need for a detailed implementation plan to assist governments to make progress toward this vision
  • The need to re-orient the system away from the acute end and towards prevention, early intervention and health promotion

The processes for the Commission’s ongoing review will invite submissions, but will not involve substantial consultation processes.  We indicated that the MHCA and its members are very eager to support the development of a new model for the world’s best mental health system and to promote consensus and political support across the sector for the key measures that will need to implemented to acheive that system.

We have agreed to develop a workplan to ensure the work we do is mutually complementary and I will send more information in future updates.

Establishing the new National Mental Health Consumer Organisation

On Thursday, the Consumer Reference Group (CRG), MHCA project team and I met in Melbourne. The CRG canvassed critical issues related to setting up the new peak, including robust discussions on feedback from the recent constitution consultation. Advertising for directors to join the inaugural Board will commence soon - more information about this process will be available in the coming weeks.

Today we have been joined by representatives from state and national mental health consumer peak organisations from around the country to consider how to strengthen the national voice of mental health consumers. We’ve also been discussing what’s happening in the mental health consumer sector across Australia and how the future organisation could contribute as the national peak, including potential priority areas and where it can partner with and compliment work being undertaken by existing peaks.   

Register your interest to receive regular updates and information about this exciting project, and please encourage other who you know may be interested to do the same.
Read More

Experiences with Disability Employment Services - Consumer and Carer Survey

The MHCA is keen to hear from consumers and carers about their knowledge and experiences with Australian Government Disability Employment Services and this week we have launched a short online survey. The survey should take less than 10 minutes to complete and people who wish to discuss their experiences with Disability Employment Services with us in greater detail can elect to do so by providing their contact details. Otherwise the survey can be completed anonymously.
More info

Disability Peaks Meeting

Emily Clay, acting director Policy and Projects, attended a meeting today convened by ACOSS and hosted at the MHCA national office to discuss its approach to the McClure review of the social security system.  Other attendees included the AFDO, NDS, Disability Employment Australia, Welfare Rights, CDA, PWDA and Carers Australia. A wide range of issues were raised, including links with the NDIS, payment adequacy, technical design aspects including participation requirements, the critical role of services to support employment, and the importance of including consumers and carers in the review and reform process. This is clearly a complex policy area, with potentially significant implications for people with mental illness, and is a high priority for the MHCA.

NMHC’s National Mental Health Leaders Program

The MHCA is partnering with the Commission to find and develop a new cohort of consumers and carers to be the next generation of mental health leaders. On Wednesday, Kylie Wake and I met with Commission staff and others in Sydney to progress this new consumer and carer leadership initiative.

You may recall at the end of last year the Commission sought nominations from people with lived experience of mental health issues and their families and carers, who have the capabilities, experience and/or potential to operate at the national level and to work with and contribute to the Commission’s vision and mission.  The project has received a very large number of excellent applications and this clearly highlights the value of the scheme.

The selection process for this program is underway and will conclude soon. I’m looking forward to sharing more information with you about the program in the coming weeks.
More Info

Reconciliation Action Plan update

You may recall that last year I advised the MHCA was developing a Reconciliation Action Plan. The project is progressing well and staff will be participating in a workshop to discuss the plan during March. A first draft plan will be presented to the Board in April and the final launch will take place during NAIDOC week in July.

New member welcome

I am pleased to welcome The Butterfly Foundation as a new full member of the MHCA. The Butterfly Foundation represents all people affected by eating disorders and negative body image. The staff and Board of the MHCA are looking forward to working with Chrisine Morgan and the entire staff of Butterfly over the coming months.
More info

Proposed change of name for the MHCA

Full members are being asked to consider, and vote on, a proposal for the MHCA to change its name to Mental Health Australia. The proposal stems from work the Board has been doing over the past 12 months in exploring ways to expand and modernise the organisation. The Board believes that Mental Health Australia is a simpler, more inclusive name that aligns with our culture and future direction. The removal of the words ‘Council of’ from the name reflects a desire for the organisation to be seen as being less ‘bureaucratic’ and more representative of the entire mental health sector in Australia. If you have any questions or concerns about this proposal please contact either myself or Chris Wagner to discuss further.


TheMHS 24th Annual Conference - call for papers

The abstract submission deadline for this year’s TheMHS Conference has been extended until 14 March. The Conference will be held from 26-29 August in Perth and is focused around the theme of ‘What we share makes us strong’. For full information about the Conference and submission details please visit the website. Download

ASCA factsheets for people impacted by childhood trauma

Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA) has developed a number of factsheets to meet the needs of the different groups of people who are impacted by childhood trauma.This includes those who have experienced it, as well as those affected by it, including their family and friends. Factsheets have also been developed for people who work with survivors in different ways. These factsheets have been informed by ASCA’s Practice Guidelines for Treatment of Complex Trauma and Trauma Informed Care and Service Delivery as well as additional research and have been made possible through funding provided by the Australian Government Department of Health. More Info

Surviving child abuse: the role of medical practitioners

In other ASCA news, you may be interested in a recent interview on Radio National with the President of ASCA, Dr Cathy Kezelman. Cathy discusses the role of medical practitioners in recognising and helping adults who have been victims of childhood sexual abuse. More info

Online recovery tool survey

Following on from the success of PeerZone, Mary O’Hagan (a long time friend of the MHCA from New Zealand) and associates have received a grant from Richmond New Zealand Trust to research the feasibility of developing an online recovery platform for people who use mental health or addiction services. The platform could be used in collaboration with service providers in Australia, New Zealand and beyond. They have prepared three online surveys – one for service users, one for frontline workers and one for service managers. Individuals would normally fill in just one survey. The surveys should all take under 10 minutes and respondents can choose to be anonymous. More info

Safety and Quality in Health Care updates

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care’s February edition of Medication Safety is now available from their website. The Commission has also released a literature review: Medication Safety in Australia. Read more

AMA position statement on women’s health

The Australian Medical Association this week released a position statement on women’s health. The position statement contains AMA recommendations about the need to factor in gender considerations and the needs of women across a range of areas in health including mental health and suicide, health promotion, disease prevention and early intervention. The full position statement is available on the AMA website. Read more

The National Suicide Prevention Conference - call for abstracts

A call for abstracts for oral and posted presentations for the National Suicide Prevention Conference is now open. 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. Read more

Nominations for 2014 LiFE Awards now open

Suicide Prevention Australia is calling for nominations for the 2014 LiFE Awards, recognising excellence in suicide prevention. The LiFE Awards are a prestigious national event that attract nominations from all areas including business, industry, media, community, government, youth research and medicine – all with an interest in suicide prevention. Full details are available on the website. Read more

15th International Mental Health Conference - call for abstracts

The 15th International Mental Health Conference will focus on the broad spectrum of mental disorders including Suicide, Dementia, Depression, Personality Disorders and Trauma. The call for abstracts is now open for presentations that will educate delegates on effective practice and prevention strategies through innovation, integration and early intervention. The Conference will be held at QT Hotel, Gold Coast from 25-27 August. Read more

Black Dog Institute - healthy thinking trial

The Black Dog Institute is currently recruiting for their Healthy Thinking trial. The trial aims to determine whether a web-based self-help intervention will result in a reduction of suicidal thoughts and in the formulation of suicide plans. Full details on this and other Black Dog trials and research programs are available on their website. Read more

beyondblue National Roadshow

Over the next 18 months, the beyondblue Roadshow will spend time in each of Australia’s 61 Medicare Local regions and work closely with the health services and the community to put on a range of community events and activities. The aim is to encourage people to ‘Take 1 step’ and tune in to their mental health, open up and talk about any problems they might have, and take action early to get appropriate support. Read more

Warm regards


Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer

T: 02 6285 3100  |  M: 0409 655 460
E:  |  W:

Mental health begins with me!


Rate this article: 

© 2024 Mental Health Australia All rights reserved.