Weekly CEO Update from Mental Health Australia: Budget Analysis - Details will be crucial to the National Agreement

picture of wood-textured puzzle pieces.

When you look at the origins of the old idiom, “The devil is in the detail” it’s actually more of positive sentiment than one would think. It encapsulates the idea that whatever one does should be done thoroughly. 

So of course details are important, which is why over the last couple of weeks we’ve been further combing the 2021 Federal Budget papers, and follow up commentary, to provide you with this analysis… of the detail.

Mental Health Australia 2021 Federal Budget Analysis

In my mind, the many and welcomed Budget initiatives announced a couple of weeks ago are further pieces in the mental health ecosystem puzzle that was highlighted by the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health and other reports, and now needs to be put together.

Solving the puzzle, or at least starting with the edges and working our way in, will require agreement on who will focus on what, and where that focus needs to be. 

And to do that we have to look at accountabilities, and our capacity to discern if the mental health care provided actually makes the difference people are asking for. This is clearly one of the highest priorities underpinning real structural change.  

We must strive to know what works and what does not work for people. We must monitor whether our systemic response to mental illness is improving or not. We must understand not only about access to services but about their cost, quality and the impact they have on people’s lives.  

Australia’s efforts to develop accountability for mental health expenditure remains rudimentary, largely focused on measuring and reporting inputs (spending, staff numbers, beds) and outputs (numbers of services, occasions of care). We are output focused but outcome blind. 

The recent funding and action announced to address this is absolutely welcomed and if effectively implemented, would represent vital structural reform to our system.

More specifically, accountability structures must be clearly identified and embedded in the new National Agreement for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, due for completion in November 2021. 
At Mental Health Australia, we see the National Agreement as an integral piece of work that will set out the roles and responsibilities between the Commonwealth and state and territory governments for mental health reform and service delivery for the foreseeable future. 

It behoves the sector not only to consider the contents of any new National Agreement, the key priorities and the scale of investments necessary. It is also vital to understand the mechanisms which underpin these agreements – the incentives and sanctions which will drive new and coordinated mental health reform to occur right across Australia.

The significance of this matter has now been reinforced by the Victorian Budget. This massive investment, with its focus on community, consumer-led and out-of-hospital care, raises key questions about the direction of development for Australia’s mental health system nationally. For the full value of these investments to be realised it will need these new initiatives to be implemented in a coordinated, integrated and collaborative way across all tiers of government. And this must be the case for all state and territory investments in mental health care.

Considering the time and resources and personal stories that have already gone into the hundreds of submissions contributing to the review work so far from many of our members, Mental Health Australia will draft an Advice to Governments over the next month, with and on behalf of, members and key stakeholders to inform this process.  

This document will be drawn together through consultation with you via video webinars and the opportunity to provide feedback on a consultation paper. We are aiming to finalise this Advice in late July.

As always we will keep you informed of this process and the ongoing development of the Advice to Governments and will continue to do so via our email updates, looking to share as much detail as possible. 

Have a good weekend.

Leanne Beagley

Joint Submission to the Joint Standing Committee on NDIS Inquiry into Independent Assessments

Mental Health Australia, Community Mental Health Australia and the Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia recently provided a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on NDIS Inquiry into Independent Assessments, which has now been published on the Inquiry website. This submission reinforces the key recommendations from a position statement Mental Health Australia developed with Members in November 2020 and extends an offer to collaborate with the NDIA to build flexibility into the assessment process for people with psychosocial disability who will not benefit from Independent Assessments. Mental Health Australia also makes recommendations around consultation and transparency, including the provision of information to consumers about consumer rights, embedding a recovery-oriented approach in the assessment process and removing some of the further barriers people with psychosocial disability will face in accessing assessments.

Read more on the Mental Health Australia website.

Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

Mental Health Australia submitted a paper to the Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Inquiry that has now been published on the Inquiry’s website. In that submission, Mental Health Australia reiterated our position to the Australian Government’s consultation on the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry Final Report that the Government should prioritise: 

  • The development of an implementation plan for the PC Report’s recommendations including any gaps identified in the other reviews and well informed by mental health consumers, carers, and the broader sector. 
  • The provision of an accompanying budgetary plan that identifies the key components of the future mental health system. 
  • Immediate investment to fund the PC Report recommendations that can be implemented immediately, and to ensure continuity of funding for the psychosocial service sector.

The paper also provided a range of feedback and recommendation related to the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference. 


On Monday I am meeting with Julie Borninkhof from PANDA and in the afternoon with Professor Maree Teesson about mental health research.  

On Tuesday I have meetings with the Consumer and Carer Co-Chairs of the National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum and later with the team at Health Justice.

On Wednesday I will meet with Liz Callaghan, CEO of Carers Australia and later with Assistant Minister David Coleman. Then in the afternoon, I have a National Workforce Strategy Meeting.

On Thursday I have been invited to give evidence to the Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention and also have a meeting with Darren Black from OzHelp and also one with Martin Hoffman, CEO of the National Disability Insurance Agency.

On Friday I am meeting with the Mental Health and Suicide Prevention leaders at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and with the team at Everymind. Later I will meet with the team at Exercise & Sports Science Australia.


Member Benefits, Jobs and Profiles

Communicate your news, job vacancies, or upcoming events to more than 5,000 people in the mental health ecosystem weekly.

Mental Health Australia members are invited to send us news, announcements, job vacancies, events or other notices for inclusion in the Weekly CEO Update newsletter. To do so, simply fill out this form by COB each Wednesday for your notice to appear in the newsletter the following Friday.

New member: Spiritual Health Association

Mental Health Australia is pleased to welcome Spiritual Health Association as a new Non-Voting Member.
Spiritual Health Association (SHA) is the peak body advocating and promoting spiritual care as part of whole person care across the health sector. They seek to enable the provision of quality spiritual care as an integral part of all health services. SHA advocates for holistic person-centred care to be inclusive of the spiritual domain of a person’s expression in healthcare initiatives

Job vacancy

OzHelp is seeking an experienced part-time Counsellor to join our Canberra based-team of amazing, compassionate humans. The successful candidate will join a professional team of Counsellors, Nurses and Wellbeing Support Workers who provide high-quality clinical services to ‘hard-to-reach’ blue-collar workers and their families in building/construction and other blue-collar industries where there is a higher risk of suicide.

Member Profiles

headspace logo

Headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, provides early intervention mental health services to young people age 12-25.

Juno logo

Juno (formerly WISHIN)
Since 2002, Juno has been helping women in Melbourne’s north to create the life they deserve. WISHIN provide specialist support across two service systems: Homelessness and Family Violence.


Embrace Multicultural Mental Health News

Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia Workshops
We are pleased to announce that we are holding 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. You can register here for the Brisbane workshop on 8 JuneFor further enquiries, please contact multicultural@mhaustralia.org

Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia Survey

We have over 1000 registered Embrace Framework users. We’re now looking for feedback to get a better understanding of how people find the Framework, how they’ve benefitted from it and what improvements can be made. Find our quick survey here.

COVID-19 vaccine information for multicultural audiences

The Department of Health’s stakeholder kit includes translated campaign key messages and links to campaign creative including videos, radio files, posters, social media content and images, and sample EDM/website content for multicultural audiences.

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

We Need a Consumer-centric Approach

With the NSW State Budget due to be handed down next month, BEING – Mental Health Consumers watched on with interest as the Victorian State Budget 2021-22 was released. While the Victorian Government states that lived experience will be at the “heart of their mental health system”, BEING – Mental Health Consumers calls on the NSW State Government to take a stronger stance, through more significant investment in new peer-led initiatives and by taking action to ensure the human rights of individuals are not only upheld but placed front and centre of our mental health infrastructure.

Read more

New mental health support for Tasmanians

Tasmanians experiencing mild mental illness will have easier access to the support they need, when and where they need it, through new telephone and online services funded by the federal Government. Remedy Healthcare, commissioned by Primary Health Tasmania (Tasmania PHN), has started delivery of its MindStepR and Healing Minds services in Tasmania. 

Read more

Enhanced mental health strategy for NSW workplaces 

SafeWork NSW’s Mentally Healthy Workplaces Strategy has been relaunched, aiming to improve workplace mental health in response to significant shifts in ways of working due to COVID-19. The re-designed strategy is focused on helping every type of business in NSW become mentally healthy. 

Read more

$14.5 million boost for community and mental health services in WA

The WA Government has delivered almost $15 million in funding increases and extended contracts for 12 months to ensure the continuation of important community and mental health services through the COVID-19 recovery. Contracts for eligible providers have been extended to June 30 next year to ensure critical and in-demand community services continue to support vulnerable Western Australians through the State’s COVID-19 recovery and support jobs in the female-dominated sector.

Read more




More real conversations will help better understand addiction

Building on the success of Addicted Australia, RANZCP have launched the Rethink Addiction campaign to change the conversation about addiction and tackle the stigma and misinformation that stops people getting the help they need. Learn more about the Rethink Addiction campaign, and consider signing the petition or sharing your story. 

Expressions of Interest Requested: ACT Mental Health Advisory Council Member

Expressions of interest are invited from suitably qualified and experienced persons interested in becoming a member of the Mental Health Advisory Council. One current vacancy exists on the Council. The Council meets at least four times a year and provides advice to the ACT Minister for Mental Health on a range of topics including mental health consumer and carer interests, emerging mental health issues; mental health policy and mental health services reforms.

Apply to present at RRMH 2021

Presenter applications for the Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium are open until 4 June. Present your case studies, research and ideas with an audience of like minded professionals at the 2021 Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium, taking place from 3-5 November in Canberra. Authors or organisations are invited to submit a presentation of no more than 300 words.

Regional Data Hub consultation

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications is inviting submissions to the public consultation process for the creation of the new Regional Data Hub. Feedback can be provided via a 20 minute survey or a submission responding to the consultation paper providing views through the Have Your Say page. Consultations close 5pm AEST Friday 2 July.

Families in Australia Survey

The Australian Institute of Family Studies has just launched the third Families in Australia Survey. The 20-minute survey helps paint a picture of what life is like for families across the length and breadth of Australia. Telling your stories will help inform government and service providers on how families are faring in Australia. As a thank you, participants can opt-in to a random draw for one of five $500 shopping vouchers.

Season 2 of Beyond Blue’s Not Alone Podcast

Not Alone uses the power of storytelling to explore topics that come up repeatedly in Beyond Blue’s online forums to reinforce that, if you are dealing with a mental health condition, or supporting someone with a mental health condition, you are Not Alone. Marc Fennell is once again hosting this season, along with episode Q&As with Dr Grant Blashki, who offers his unique clinical perspective on the themes and experiences discussed. Each Tuesday, across the next six weeks, a new podcast episode will be released.

Carers Australia Opioid Campaign Stakeholder Kit

Everyone who’s experienced pain knows what it is and how it feels. But, everyone’s pain is different. The factors that cause pain are different for each person. Carers Australia’s Opioid Campaign Stakeholder Kit includes information, articles, and social media and campaign resources. By using these promotional assets, you will be helping unpaid carers in your network better understand opioids to combat low opioid literacy and improve confidence.

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