Weekly CEO Update: Housing is key to belonging, mental health and wellbeing

Three pairs of hands constructing a house out of lego.

In order to thrive, we need shelter. Like food, water, clean air, and sufficient sleep, shelter is a cornerstone of health and wellbeing.

Mental Health Australia in consultation with our members through the recent Members Policy Hub is proud to release our position statement on housing and mental health, which will form the basis of our advocacy in this area. Mental Health Australia members and stakeholders are also encouraged to use this material for your own advocacy activities.

Mental Health Australia partnered with Mind and AHURI to develop policy priorities for reform based on their Trajectories research and consultation with people with lived experience and other key experts. These policy priorities identified formed the basis of a position statement, which was further developed through a Mental Health Australia Members Policy Hub attended by over 30 people representing 21 organisations. 

As we say in our position statement, the evidence tells us that “appropriate housing is the critical foundation for people to participate in our society, contribute economically, and recover and maintain mental health.”

Secure housing allows people to build links with their communities, and focus on their own wellbeing. It relieves the intense stress of not knowing where you can settle, or if you’re going to be able to afford rent alongside your other needs.

Housing, or to be more precise a lack of appropriate housing options, is among the many social determinants of mental health and needs to be addressed.

Trajectories, a collaborative research project between Mind Australia and the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute found that housing insecurity is associated with poor mental health and increased suicide risk.

As one participant with lived experience in the study said about being faced with housing insecurity, “you feel worthless and like you don’t belong anywhere.”

The sad reality is that those with lived experience of mental ill-health are also more likely to be affected by housing insecurity. In Australia, there are at least 31,000 people living with mental ill-health who are either experiencing homelessness or are at risk of homelessness.

Other common experiences include being forced to live in unsuitable housing, or in institutional care because of a lack of affordable, safe and appropriate accommodation in the community.

There are a range of evidence-based solutions, highlighted by our position statement. These need to be implemented in order to improve the wellbeing of Australians.

There are also economic benefits to addressing housing. As research from the Life Course Centre has found, investment in supported housing can actually save $13,100 per person, per year by reducing the demand and spend of a range of government services. And it would reduce so much human distress.

These issues — housing, homelessness, and mental health — are all linked. Yet, our approach to them is too often siloed. Voices across the sector are pointing out that mental health reform is not simply an issue for health departments, but must be picked up across many portfolios of government and in the National Agreement on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.

Meaningful mental health reform needs to tackle housing to ensure that everyone will have a place where they belong, a place they can rely on, and a place that forms the solid base from where they can thrive. 

Have a good weekend.

Leanne Beagley





On Tuesday, we will be doing some internal work on Mental Health Australia’s equity and diversity policies, actions and framework.

On Wednesday, I am looking forward to an international discussion with Professor Patrick Corrigan in Canada, a leader in peer workforce development, and a meeting prompted by some feedback on the CEO Update! Later in the day, I am meeting with Christine Morgan, National Mental Health Commission and Terina Grace from Black Swan Health in WA. That afternoon I also have a National Workforce Strategy Meeting at the Department of Health. 

On Thursday we will be orientating our new Company Secretary Tony Ficca and also meeting with Ian Yates from the Council on The Aging (COTA). Later, I will be attending an event at the Mental Health Coordinating Council.


Member Benefits and Profiles

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Member Profiles


Emerging minds logo

Emerging Minds
Emerging Minds is dedicated to advancing the mental health and emotional wellbeing of Australian infants, children, adolescents and their families. The organisation leads the National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health, delivered in partnership with the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), the Australian National University (ANU), the Parenting Research Centre (PRC) and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).

VMIAC logo, with slogan, 'by and for consumers'

Victorian Mental Illness Council VMIAC
The Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council (VMIAC) is the peak Victorian non-government organisation for people with lived experience of mental health or emotional issues. VMIAC works to educate the community about mental illness from a consumer perspective, and provide information and support for mental health consumers around the NDIS. They also provide advocacy services to assist consumers and improve the mental health system. VMIAC’s vision is to create a world where all mental health consumers stand proud, live a life with choices honoured, rights upheld and these principles embedded in all aspects of society.


Embrace Multicultural Mental Health News

Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia Workshops
We are pleased to announce that we are holding 3 new workshops on the Framework in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. These free and newly expanded workshops will offer participants an opportunity to learn more about the Framework and hear how services have applied the Framework to their workplace. 
Registrations can be made using the following links:

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) and Department of Health updated COVID-19 advice and information

ATAGI have reinforced their recommendations on the use of the COVID-19 vaccine and the Chief Medical Officer has also issued a statement on the ATAGI advice. In response, the Department of Health has updated its vaccine information on the AstraZeneca vaccine, as well as information for vaccine providers, disability service providers, and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Embrace Australia logo (a rectangle with a light and dark purple cultural stripe pattern with "embrace" and stylised outline of the Australian continent in the lower right corner).


Mental Health News

Universal Telehealth extended through 2021

Over the last 12 months, Telehealth services have been life-changing for many in need of support, which is why as part of the 2021-22 Budget, the Australian Government is investing more than $114 million to extend Telehealth until the end of the year. Telehealth items were rapidly implemented in March 2020 to ensure our primary care sector could continue to function and that Australians could continue to access important health services. 

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Tasmania Greens support independent inquiry into mental health care

Greens Health spokesperson Rosalie Woodruff said all Tasmanians deserve appropriate, timely care when they are in mental distress or suffering poor mental health. The issues raised by 16 psychiatrists in a letter to the Australian Medical Association are alarming. The psychiatric specialists who provide them with treatment and care deserve to be heard, and their calls acted on. 

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There’s more to say after R U OK?

Following the challenges of the last 12 months, there remains a need to connect and regularly check in with those around us.  Rail R U OK?Day on Thursday 29th April 2021 is a joint initiative of national harm prevention charities - the TrackSAFE Foundation and R U OK? and is the only national industry-specific R U OK? day of action.  The TrackSAFE Foundation, Executive Director, Heather Neil says, “Rail R U OK?Day provides a focus for the rail sector as they empower their staff to identify the signs a colleague might not be OK and start a conversation that could change a life.”

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Young adults avoid seeking medical advice during cases of mental ill-health

Despite the high rates of mental trauma in adolescents, fewer than half who need it visit a doctor or mental health professional for treatment, a new study led by Monash University shows. Instead of professional help, young people turn to prescription medication, as well as family and friends for help with their personal and emotional problems because of the barriers they face with accessing mental health care.

Read more

Consumer report card points to highs and lows of the health system

A new Consumer Report Card on Australia’s Health System finds that significant areas including mental health and cost barriers to care present issues of concern. These include relatively high rates of psychological distress compared to other western countries, relatively high level of out-of-pocket health costs and levels of public expenditure on preventive health measures.

Read more

Additional hearing day to be held to examine the COVID-19 vaccination rollout for people with disability

The Royal Commission will hold a one day hearing on 17 May 2021 to examine the approach of the Australian Government and its agencies to the vaccination of people with disability and disability support workers. The Royal Commission previously identified failings in the Australian Government in addressing the needs of people with disability during the early stages of the pandemic. Their report included recommendations that guidelines be drafted, in consultation with bodies including people with disability, explicitly addressing access by people with disability and disability support workers to a COVID-19 vaccine “if and when one becomes available”. A vaccine is now available.

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National Safety and Quality Mental Health Standards for Community Managed Organisations – consultation paper

The Australian Comission on Safety and Quality in Health Care are currently holding a consultation for the NSQMH Standards for CMOs – consultation paper (paper attached). Along with an online survey and written submissions, the consultation also includes a series of information webinars and online focus groups. These are taking place between April and June, and are facilitated by Dr Peggy Brown AO and Senior Clinical Advisor David McGrath. The feedback received will inform the approach to develop the NSQMHS Standards for CMOs. Information about the consultation is available here.

Awareness events to support transplant recipients and their families

The first charity in Australia to provide Accommodation support to transplant recipients and their families is running events to raise awareness. Herd of Hope, provide financial, emotional, physical and mental health support to South Australians who receive transplants. Awareness of the gift of transplants is important as last year, 54% of people who wanted organs donated had that decision overturned after their death by family. You can find more information about the events on the Herd of Hope website

Run for the herd virtual festival

Whether you’re looking for a way to challenge yourself or you’re a keen runner looking to support a cause, batyr’s Run for The Herd virtual festival is a great way to show young Aussies you’ve got their backs. You can take part anywhere and choose your own distance and run, walk, or otherwise move to support youth mental health. You can register for the festival here.

Have your say about the future of disability research in Australia

Researchers from the University of Sydney are leading a national consortium of academic and NGO partners to develop a disability research agenda for Australia for the next 10 years. As part of this agenda-setting, we invite you to participate in a survey that aims to understand your thoughts and priorities in relation to disability research in Australia. Find more information and the survey here.

National Carer Wellbeing Survey

This survey, conducted by researchers from the University of Canberra, asks about the types of care you provide (or have provided in the past) to others. This survey also asks about the types of supports or services you may have heard of or accessed in your caring role, including the new Carer Gateway service funded by the Australian Government. The carer wellbeing survey can take either 10 or 30 minutes to complete (depending on how many questions you choose to answer), is available in English, Arabic, Vietnamese, Simplified Chinese and Italian, and is open until 11.59 pm (AEST), 9 May.

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