Weekly CEO Update from Mental Health Australia: Healing Country and mental health reform

Maggie-Jean Douglas's artwork ‘Care for Country’' from the 2021 National NAIDOC Poster. Text on tip right corner reads: "Celebrating NAIDOC Week, Heal Country! 4-11 July 2021."

This year’s NAIDOC theme to Heal Country is a reminder of the impressive 65,000+ year history and heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia and the resilience of our culture and custom.

Culture is a source of strength and pride, and the foundation for good mental health, and social and emotional wellbeing. However, the culture and values of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples still need to be respected and valued across Australia. 

Healing Country is not just an idea, it requires deliberate action. It is about changing the political and administrative landscape to empower and celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ culture and knowledge in the everyday policies that shape our lives. 

What is good for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is good for everyone. 

In this time of extensive national mental health reform, Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia is leading the following national policy areas. 

Implementing the system-wide reform proposed in these the above would align with the targets and outcomes of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap and begin to address all the critical long-standing disparities listed in the Indigenous Health Performance Framework, which lists alarming rates of suicide and psychological distress.  

Despite Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander Peoples being 3.3% of the Australian Population, we are severely overrepresented in terms of need. Achieving equity and ensuring system and community capacity over the long term to meet this need is required.

In addition, the National Federation Reform Council agreed to collaborate on systemic, whole-of-government reform to deliver a comprehensive, coordinated, consumer-focussed and compassionate mental health and suicide prevention system to benefit all Australians. This will be achieved through a new National Agreement on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention to be negotiated through the Health National Cabinet Reform Committee by the end of November 2021. 

It is vital that the mental health, social and emotional wellbeing and suicide prevention needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples remain a priority across all developments and are aligned with the three major policy directions we are leading, and the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.
Alignment, equity, capacity, and longevity are needed to improve good mental health, and social and emotional wellbeing, and reduce suicides. We invite you to join us in advocating for a sustained commitment across all health and human services sectors in Australia. 

Tom Brideson

CEO, Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia

Vale John McGrath AM

It is with great sadness that we learnt John McGrath AM passed away during the week at the age of 81 following a long illness. John was a political leader who used those skills to help improve the lives of people with mental illness and their carers. He was a former Chair of the Mental Health Council Australia, the forerunner to Mental Health Australia, and also chaired its Consumer and Carer Committee. He was, amongst many other appointments, one of the founding Board Directors and Deputy Chair of Beyond Blue and Chair of the Mental Health Professionals Network. But these roles are only a small reflection of his work in the mental health sector, as his impact and the lasting legacy he leaves is better measured by the strength of the relationships he nurtured, his empathy for others and his commitment to advocating for change on behalf of others less able to do so. We extend our sincerest condolences to his family and friends. 

Lived Experience Title Change

The Secretariat for the National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum and the National Register of Mental Health Consumer and Carer Representatives is making an important, and well-considered, change in title descriptors. 

This is a move to support and recognise the power of language, as well as ensure we are at the forefront in the shift towards contemporary and inclusive language for those with an experience of mental ill-health. 

We understand that the terms ‘consumer’ and ‘carer’ are considered by many to be outdated and narrow, based in the medical model and not representative of the spectrum of experiences. 
As such, we are starting to address this change in language by changing our job titles from using the words ‘consumer and carer’ to using ‘lived experience’:

-    Lead, Lived Experience Programs
-    Manager, Lived Experience Programs
-    Lived Experience Programs Officer

Read the full statement here.

Mental Health Australia Job Vacancies - Embrace Project

The Embrace Multicultural Mental Health Project is looking for two new staff to conitnue its work in providing a national focus on mental health and suicide prevention for people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds. You can follow the links below for more information on the two roles.

Embrace Project Manager – Delivery, Policy & Governance

Embrace Project Officer

The closing date for applications is 19 July.


Next week, Mental Health Australia will be attending a briefing by the NDIA on its Annual Financial Sustainability Report, a meeting of the National Mental Health Workforce Taskforce, an Australian Health and Hospitals Association meeting on the Primary Health Care Reform Recommendations, the launch of the Queensland Mental Health Alliance’s Futures launch event, and a meeting with the CEO and staff of the Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia and the Australian Health, Housing and Homelessness Network. We’ll also be dialling into a meeting with all the states and territories to talk about their plans for World Mental Health Day and Mental Health Month in October.


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.

Welcome to new member: Meaningful Ageing Australia 

Meaningful Ageing Australia

Meaningful Ageing Australia Ltd. is the peak body for spiritual care and ageing. They are the Australian leader in education and resourcing of evidence-based spiritual care for the ageing population in the context of health, aged care and community services. They also regularly engaged with government and key agencies to further their work for the benefit of older people.

Job opportunity

GROW Australia is seeking a strategic, commercially astute, and innovative leader to help drive growth by supporting the National CEO across resources, program and people management. Service delivery/corporate services/financial qualifications is desirable. As is experience in community/NFP sectors. Need not be mental health. Work from inner southside Brisbane with flexible options with the CEO and Board to turn growth strategies into action. More information is available here.

Member Profiles

mhcc. Mental Health Coordinating Council logo.

Mental Health Coordinating Council
Mental Health Coordinating Council (MHCC) is the peak body for community mental health organisations in NSW. Since 1983 we have worked to build the capacity of community organisations to support people on their recovery journeys. Informed through consultation with the sector, MHCC advocates for policy development and legislative reform and best practice approaches, and supports innovation and the value of the sector. MHCC also offers responsive and highly flexible mental health training and professional development opportunities grounded in recovery-oriented and trauma-informed practice. Our work stems from the belief that people with lived experience are drivers of positive change in all mental health services.

Being Mental Health Consumers logo

Being - Mental Health & Wellbeing
Being is the independent, state-wide peak organisation for people with a lived experience of mental illness (consumers) in NSW. They work with consumers to achieve and support systemic change. BEING acts as a bridge between mental health consumers and the government. An essential part of their role is to encourage mental health consumers to provide input into decision making at all levels concerning the way mental health services are provided. They gather information and lobby the decision-makers about issues relevant to the mental health system. They seek to influence legislation and policy introduced by the government where it affects the lives of mental health consumers. BEING also keeps people informed of what is happening in the state through their Network.


Embrace Multicultural Mental Health News

In-language resources on the current Public Health Orders in NSW

NSW Health has produced resources and social media tiles explaining the current NSW stay-at-home order and advice for religious services and places of worship in 52 languages. These resources are available here. Other resources (by topic) for NSW are also available.

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

Beyond Blue pays tribute to former Deputy Chair and founding Board Director John McGrath AM

Beyond Blue extends its deepest sympathies to the family, friends and colleagues of founding Beyond Blue Board Director and former Deputy Chair John McGrath AM, who passed away on July 4 aged 81. John helped establish Beyond Blue and served on the Board from 2000 to 2010, after representing the electorate of Warrnambool as a National Party member from 1985 to 1999.

Read more

AASW to call for national registration of social workers

Australian Association of Social Workers’ Chief Executive Officer Ms Cindy Smith has called for a national approach to social worker regulation, ahead of giving evidence to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee inquiry (8 July) into the Administration of registration and notifications by Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). “There are approximately 40,000 social workers across Australia, providing services to people experiencing homelessness, escaping family violence, experiencing mental illness, and seeking child protection. Despite this, social work is not a formally registered profession, placing the public at risk from unprofessional practice.”

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Building homes for people living with mental illness 

The Victorian Government is investing $49.2 million to build 162 new supported independent living homes, ensuring Victorians living with mental illness have the security and stability of a home. Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Housing Richard Wynne announced $21.1 million to build 62 supported independent living homes across regional Victoria, as part of the nation-leading Big Housing Build. The 62 new homes are being built in four priority regional areas - Seymour, Ballarat West, Drouin and North Bendigo.

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Defence and Veterans suicide 

The federal Government has formally established a Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide following approval by the Governor-General. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Royal Commission recognised the unique nature of military service, and the ongoing effects on the physical and mental health of members and veterans as a result of their service. 

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See the 2021 RRMH program

Gain practical solutions to improve mental health services in Australia’s rural and remote areas at the Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium. It will take place in Canberra and be available virtually 3-5 November. Find the RRMH program here.

National Palliative Care Awards 2021

The National Palliative Care Awards nominations close on 13 July and will be presented via a virtual awards night during the Oceanic Palliative Care Conference on 7 September. This year there are four new awards with the aim to recognise a broader range of people, including the work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, generalist areas, community-based care, and Paediatric palliative care. 

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