Weekly CEO Update: Building on the national conversation about mental health

A month ago today Prime Minister Scott Morrison released the Final Report of the much anticipated Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health where he “affirmed the government’s commitment to providing Australians with the mental health support they need, particularly in these challenging times.”

Further down in his speech he went on to say…

“We will build a system of comprehensive coordinated and compassionate care. That must be our goal, bringing together clinical care and social supports in the community and understanding how they connect, particularly for Australians with complex needs. And this means holistic care based on the needs of the person, their carers and their family, and we’ll commit to a system that is consumer, person-driven, carer driven. This means facilitating power and choice, recruiting people into support networks into the individual’s recovery journey and listening when something isn’t working.”

In the days and weeks that have followed the release of the Report, the depth of sector analysis and questions around ‘Where to next?’ have grown.

At Mental Health Australia we have provided our members and stakeholders with the opportunity to hear from, and ask questions of, Dr Stephen King, Christine Morgan, Mark Roddam, Tania Rishniw, and last week the Secretary of the Department of Health, Dr Brendan Murphy, who delivered a memorable 2020 Grace Groom Memorial Oration – which you can watch here.

As well as trying to facilitate these initial opportunities to provide feedback, we have also undertaken our own ‘deep dive’ into the 1600+ pages of the Report to produce a detailed analysis for, and with, the sector where we conclude:

“The Productivity Commission’s report is a unique take on a mental health system the community already understands to be facing unsustainable pressures. It considers this system through the lens of national productivity and economic impact. It quantifies the impact poor mental health has on our economy and suggests ways this can be lessened. This economic analysis is the real strength of the Commission’s work. It represents a valuable opportunity for Mental Health Australia and our members and stakeholders to change the national conversation about planning for mental health care away from only pills and beds, and towards a community based system.”

Click Here for the Analysis of the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health: final report

We also encourage members and stakeholders to provide your own feedback to the Department of Health, just like Dr Murphy invited us all to do, via the Consultation Hub which closes on 10 February 2021 or via email to MHStrategy@health.gov.au.

For some this might all feel like a merry-go-round, and just more of the same consultation and consideration rather than reform or action, especially at the end of a remarkable and busy year, but we have to realise the legacy of the Report — some two years in the making — should not be defined by its first four weeks.

For me it is important we acknowledge the momentum which has been built, and continues to build, and make the most of the opportunities that present themselves as a result. Opportunities for new government arrangements, and new voices to be heard.

Since the release of the Report last month, the National Federation Reform Council (NFRC) has agreed to collaborate on systemic, whole-of-governments reform of the mental health and suicide prevention system.

The NFRC media release states this is will be achieved through a new National Agreement on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, which has been one of Mental Health Australia’s major initiatives, as outlined in Charter 2020. This is to be negotiated through the Health National Cabinet Reform Committee by the end of November 2021.

We have also seen the establishment of a new Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. This Committee will inquire into the findings of the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health, the Report of the National Suicide Prevention Officer, the Victorian Royal Commission, the National Mental Health Workforce Strategy and other recent strategic reviews of the current mental health system in light of events such as the 2019 Bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic, including the capacity of the mental health workforce to respond to such events.

Some in our sector will see this as a way of delaying action on the report’s recommendations, however there will be some value in building cross-parliamentary support for integrated whole of government investment that supports the breadth of the recommendations covered in the report, as well as the many other reports active at this time. 

The best way to realise this is to continue to advocate for what we need to do now, as well as what we need to focus on in the future. And that’s what we’ll be doing when we return to work in 2021. 

Season’s greetings and have a safe, and hopefully restful, summer.


Leanne Beagley
CEO


Your Feedback is Welcome - World Mental Health Day 2020 Survey

We would like to invite you to participate in a short survey that is being conducted by Kantar Public on behalf of Mental Health Australia. We would love to hear your feedback about your experience with this year’s World Mental Health Day campaign “Look after your mental health, Australia”. Your feedback will help us inform the development of future mental health promotion campaigns.

Also by completing this survey, you will go into the running to win one of three $100 e-gift cards.

The survey will take only 10 to 15 minutes to complete, is completed online and will need to be completed in one sitting. If you would like to complete the survey, please click the link below.

World Mental Health Day 2020 Survey


 

OFFICE CLOSED OVER CHRISTMAS & NEW YEAR

The Mental Health Australia office will close for a Christmas/New Year Shut Down from Thursday 24 December to Monday 4 January

 
 

Mental Health News

Further support for multicultural communities

The Victorian Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Ros Spence announced an additional $18.8 million to the CALD Communities Taskforce so that multicultural organisations can continue to lead local responses to the pandemic, including emergency relief, food and clothing supplies and outreach support. The Taskforce will allocate the funds where needed, with more than $5.4 million distributed to multicultural and multifaith organisations since it was set up in August.

Read more


Expanding mental health support for residents of aged care during the COVID-19 pandemic

The expansion of the Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners through the MBS (Better Access) initiative to aged care residents commenced on 10 December 2020. The expansion was announced on 30 November 2020 as part of the Government’s response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s Aged care and COVID-19: a special report. The expansion will run until 30 June 2022 and will allow aged care residents to access up to 20 individual Medicare subsidised psychological services each calendar year in line with the broader community. To support practitioners in delivering services in aged care facilities, flag fall fees will be available.

Read more


Easing the regulatory burden on charities

Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, says Australian charities hit hard by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will receive relief from burdensome financial reporting requirements under an agreement signed by all Federal, state and territory treasurers. Inconsistent and outdated regulations across jurisdictions create an estimated regulatory burden of $13.3 million a year for the charitable fundraising sector.

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#MakingTime for what matters to us this summer

The National Mental Health Commission (the Commission) is launching #MakingTime, designed to build resilience over the summer period in Australians who live with mental illness, those who care for them, and those who experience mental distress. #MakingTime is an initiative led by the Commission in collaboration with people experiencing mental illness, carers, mental health professionals and sector organisations. The program will take a grassroots peer-to-peer approach, calling on the community to share their positive experiences and strategies, prompting people to make time to support their mental health and wellbeing.

Read more


RANZCP welcomes final MBS taskforce review report with some concerns

The President of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP), Associate Professor John Allan, has welcomed the report’s findings, a culmination of five year’s work on better aligning health services with clinical evidence and practice to improve patient outcomes. ‘We are pleased with the support for telehealth, from both reports, in major cities for people who are otherwise prevented from attending face-to-face sessions and strongly encourage that this be considered alongside the government’s other plans for telehealth on a long-term basis,’ said Associate Professor Allan.

Read more

 

Member Profiles

Australian Psychological Society
Australian Psychological Society (APS) is the peak body for psychologists in Australia, representing more than 25,000 members. We advocate for the profession of psychology, support high standards, promote community wellbeing, and are dedicated to providing benefits to support members. We aim to amplify the role of psychological science and psychologists in helping people achieve positive change so they can confidently contribute their best to the community. The APS has nearly 200 active member groups. There are 42 APS branches spread across Australia, nine colleges representing special areas in psychology, and 48 interest groups in a wide range of special areas.


Mental Health Partners
Mental Health Partners offers help and strategic planning for workplace mental health and provides accredited or custom-designed mental health training courses which come with complimentary 24/7 support and aftercare from experienced professionals. Fully accredited, and highly knowledgeable, the Mental Health Partners team is always there when you need us, we’ll help you create and maintain a mentally healthy and productive work environment.

 
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