Weekly CEO Update: Mental health in Australia is top of mind and ready for systemic change

picture of flannel flowers

This week we are proud to launch the 2021-2024 Strategic Plan for Mental Health Australia, and I acknowledge our Board for their leadership, drive and collaboration in developing this new direction at such a critical time for mental health reform.

It is a strategic plan which will deliver on our vision for ‘mentally healthy people, mentally healthy communities’, and will focus our work over the next three years on the following core objectives:

  1. Promote a national voice for those with lived experience of mental illness and for those who love and care for them.
  2. Highlight the social determinants for mental ill health and advocate for lasting changes across the whole ecosystem.
  3. Deliver value to our members and the wider mental health ecosystem.

If the pandemic has made mental health care and reform more top of mind for the entire nation, so much so that mental health has become a feature of government spending at federal, state and territory level, then we have to acknowledge the outstanding work that has highlighted this need over many years, not just last year.

We have to acknowledge the work of many individuals, organisations, campaigns, and government initiatives over the last decade or more that have made talking about mental health and suicide prevention front of mind. Work that has also led to action and investment. 

We also must acknowledge the persistent and courageous voices of people living with mental ill health, and their carers and families, who have reminded us over and over, of their right to belong, their right to be safe, and their right to receive quality care they need, when they need it.

It is our view that generations of consumers and their loved ones have fought for access to community-based programs to support a contributing life by sharing their stories and breaking down stigma. 

As a community, we are having these open and very public conversations, debates, and even budget announcements about mental health services because of these strong voices and the work of our members and many stakeholders to advocate for systemic change to our mental health system. 

This week we were pleased to continue those discussions and offer members the opportunity to speak with Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, the Hon David Coleman MP, as well as Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing, the Hon Mark Butler MP and Shadow Assistant Minister for Mental Health, Emma McBride MP.

And while the response to the Federal Budget has been positive, and we will provide further analysis next week, the one word on everyone’s lips would have to be ‘implementation’. 

That’s right, how these new initiatives will integrate with, and improve our system, as well as dovetail into the forthcoming National Agreement for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, was the key question from all. In fact, it’s even more important now that we have witnessed the significant investment from the Victorian government in their Budget announcements yesterday for the expansion of the mental health service system.

For Mental Health Australia, good and considered implementation is up to all of us, and that has to start with the National Agreement across federal, state and territory governments.

So to help with the process, we will develop Advice to Governments on what we see as crucial to be addressed in the National Agreement for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention and provide this to them in July.

To do this we will canvas and consult with members and key stakeholders over the coming weeks on the advice on what we see as the key response to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health. This, together with the many other reports and reviews, is what we now need to turn into action… and implementation outcomes and real reform.

The National Agreement has the ability to ignite and embed substantial generational reform for our mental health ecosystem, and will go a long way to answering those ‘implementation’ questions. 
Add your voice and work with us in developing our Advice to Governments.

Have a good weekend.

Leanne Beagley


On Monday, Mental Health Australia celebrated International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia (or IDAHOBIT). The day recognises the strides made by the LGBTIQ+ community as well as the ongoing challenges to reduce erasure and discrimination, and increase inclusivity. For example, Elaine Czulkowski from ACON spoke to us about her experience as the former Fundraising Manager for the Marriage Equality Campaign in Australia. Although the campaign was successful — we now have marriage equality — Elaine reflected on the “barrage of negativity” the LGBTIQ+ community experienced around the postal survey, and the increase in the use of mental health crisis hotlines that resulted.

Homophobia, biphobia, interphobia, and transphobia continue to be huge issues in Australia, despite legal protections. The statistics around discrimination, as reported by Minus18, are staggering. 75% of LGBTIQ+ youth have experienced some form of discrimination. 77% of trans and gender diverse people have experienced discrimination in the last 12 months. These communities report much higher rates of mental health challenges than the general population. They are 6 times as likely, for example, to experience depression.

Acceptance and inclusion remains an important task for everyone. And addressing homophobia, biphobia, interphobia, and transphobia is central to improving Australia’s mental health. For more information, the Minus18 and ACON websites both provide valuable resources.

Consultation response: Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide terms of reference

Mental Health Australia provided a response to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs public consultation regarding the Terms of Reference for a Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide. Mental Health Australia supported the Department’s proposed themes, and further called for a focus on the transition from military to civilian life, the experience of defence personnel and veterans in making claims and accessing government services, and stigma regarding mental ill-health and help-seeking. Mental Health Australia recommended the Royal Commission should have regard to the extent to which the recommendations of previous relevant inquiries have been implemented, and make recommendations to improve government services for veterans and mitigate risks in the transition period. Mental Health Australia strongly argued that people with lived experience should be represented at every stage and level of decision making in the Royal Commission’s inquiry, and that from the outset the inquiry must be conducted with a trauma-informed approach. 


On Monday we are delighted to be hosting a webinar at midday to talk about the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy (NATSISPS). This is an opportunity to hear directly from the CEO of Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia, Tom Brideson, about the renewal of the strategy. You can register here. Then, later that day I am meeting with Georgie Harman from Beyond Blue.

On Tuesday we have a Governance Committee meeting with our Board and later I am meeting with Helen Christensen from Black Dog Institute.

On Wednesday I am meeting with Rose Cuff from the Satellite Foundation, and later with trauma specialist, Dr Rob Gordon. Then I am meeting with Jenny Smith from the Council to Homeless Persons.

On Thursday I have a National Peak Bodies Bushfire Recovery Coordination Forum. Then we are meeting with our Embrace Multicultural Mental Health Project partners and finally, I have my regular meeting with Christine Morgan from the National Mental Health Commission.

On Friday I will be meeting with Dr Melinda Goodyear from Emerging Minds and later the leadership group from the National Disability and Carers Alliance.


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.

Member Profiles


GROW is Australia’s foremost intentional peer to peer support organisation in mental health support and mutual help. GROW was founded by people with lived experience as a consumer driven organisation and remains that way today. 

Wise Employment Ltd
WISE are an Australian not-for-profit employment services provider with offices in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia and the Northern Territory. Since 1992 we have been connecting and empowering job seekers and employers because we believe our community benefits when everyone is supported to achieve their potential.


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. Registrations can be made using the following links:

For 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.

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

Victorian Budget and Responses

Building our mental health system from the ground up (Victorian Government)

Lived Experience At The Heart Of Our Mental Health System (Victorian Government)

Helping Families Support A Loved One’s Mental Health (Victorian Government)

More mental health support for children and young people (Victorian Government)

Better mental health care for regional Victoria (Victorian Government)

Rebuilding Victoria’s Forensic Mental Health System (Victorian Government)

cohealth praises major Budget investment in mental health

Mental Health Victoria applauds historic Victorian Government mental health reform investment

Victorian Budget signals commitment for suicide prevention (Suicide Prevention Australia)

Beyond Blue welcomes Victorian Government’s commitment to rebuild Victoria’s mental health system

Investing in Better Mental Health in Australian Workplaces

This week the Australia Institute, the Centre for Future Work and the ACTU released the Investing in Better Mental Health in Australian Workplaces report on the economic and social impact of poor workplace mental health. Australian society is experiencing an epidemic of mental illness that imposes enormous costs on individuals with poor mental health, their families, and the broader economy.

Read more

Psychiatry workforce shortage should be top priority

In 2016, the Federal Department of Health conducted a psychiatry review that concluded by 2030, there would be a significant national shortfall of psychiatrists. Likewise, the New Zealand Ministry of Health is updating their Mental Health and Addiction Workforce Action Plan as part of the government’s response to He Ara Oranga. With only 9 years until the point of no return is reached, a panel of psychiatrists, led by Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists President, Associate Professor John Allan, has gathered to discuss the issues facing the psychiatric workforce in Australia and New Zealand.

Read more

$26.8 million investment to support young Australians

The Australian Government is making a $26.8 million investment in Yourtown’s Kids Helpline. It is estimated that more than three quarters of mental health conditions begin before the age of 25, and there are approximately 630,000 young people with mild to moderate mental illness nationally. Kids Helpline has provided lifesaving care in times of crisis, practical advice or a place to turn to so young Australians know that they are not alone.

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Keeping workers safe from psychological harm

The Victorian Government is implementing new regulations to better prevent workplace psychological hazards and injuries. The regulations will strengthen the occupational health and safety framework by providing clearer guidance to employers on their obligations to better protect workers from mental injury. The changes will put psychological hazards on the same footing as physical ones - recognising that they can be just as harmful to workers’ safety and wellbeing.

Read more

COVID-19 immunisations for people with underlying medical conditions in Victoria

Adults with specified underlying medical conditions are eligible as part of phase 1b to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine is safe, effective and free. By getting vaccinated you’re helping to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19. If you are aged 50 years and over, you can access the AstraZeneca vaccine through a State vaccination clinic or your GP. If you are under 50 years of age, you will be eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine from Monday 17 May 2021 by booking at a State vaccination clinic.

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Psychiatrists launch roadmap critical to the future of rural mental health care

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) has launched the RANZCP Rural Psychiatry Roadmap 2021-31: A pathway to equitable and sustainable rural mental health services committed to addressing and supporting regional, rural, and remote psychiatry training pathways. 

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Reframing children’s mental health – a communications toolkit

The words we use make a difference. Research shows that child mental health experts and practitioners working with children, parents/adults and families have different understandings about children’s mental health. How we communicate our messages is key to bridging this gap. 
This toolkit, by the FrameWorks Institute and the Emerging Minds: National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health (NWC), has been developed for this purpose. 

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. 

Gidget Foundation Australia Perinatal Mental Health Conference

The inaugural Gidget Foundation Australia Perinatal Mental Health Conference will being Monday 19 July in Sydney as a hybrid event. The theme of the Conference is Towards Healing: Insights into the Complexities of Perinatal Mental Health. The conference will include an array of inspirational presenters and leaders in the perinatal emotional wellbeing field, who come from all over Australia. They will be sharing the latest approaches, clinical interventions, and research. There are (limited) face-to-face delegate tickets, as well as virtual delegate tickets, available. Early Bird for face-to-face delegate tickets for $250 will run until 17 May, unless sold out.

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.


In Australia, more and more young people are experiencing body dissatisfaction, and without intervention, they are heading for a dire future. Butterfly is calling upon Australians to #ChangeThePicture on body dissatisfaction starting young by donating to our Prevention and Education services. It’s time to support our kids’ mental health so they don’t develop eating or body image concerns down the track. 

Queensland Mental Health Commission Taking the Pulse Survey

The Queensland Mental Health Commission’s annual ‘Taking the Pulse’ survey is now open. The survey gathers your feedback on their performance and effectiveness. The survey will take approximately 5-10 minutes to complete and is anonymous.

Update on the NDIS psychosocial disability quality and safeguarding: Future directions webinar

On 27 May, Join MHCC’s free webinar on Future Directions for NDIS psychosocial disability quality and safeguarding to learn about: Key NDIS psychosocial disability quality and safeguarding issues, systemic NDIS issues impacting on quality and safeguarding, and The Embracing Change Project Report drawing on National Forum survey responses.

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 is offering a free six-week online mindfulness course for mental health carers. During 45 minute weekly sessions, an experienced facilitator from Simply Mindful will teach you a range of practices and tips to help improve your wellbeing. In addition to the live sessions, you will be able to access a range of ‘on demand’ guided practices once you have completed the course. The first series of courses begin on Tuesday 25 May.

National Reconciliation Week 2021: Get involved, take action

Reconciliation Australia is officially launching National Reconciliation Week by asking everyone to Acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the Country you are on. Starting 9am AEST on Thursday 27 May, share your Acknowledgement on social media to show the strength and respect of the reconciliation movement. Use the hashtags #NRW2021 and #MoreThanAWord to tag your posts and download posters and resources.

National Palliative Care Week 2021

National Palliative Care Week 2021 will be held from Sunday 23 May – Saturday 29 May, with the theme “Palliative Care It’s more than you think.”, which seeks to raise awareness about the many benefits of quality palliative care. One of the great myths about palliative care is that it is only a synonym for end-of-life care. It is so much more than that. National Palliative Care Week provides an opportunity to discuss the benefits of palliative care and celebrate the amazing dedication of all those working and volunteering in palliative care across Australia.

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