Weekly CEO Update: Responding to trauma — Do no further harm

These four words can best define the starting point for providing trauma-informed care.

Of course it is not that simple, and both subjectively and systemically providing trauma-informed care will always be multilayered across a myriad of situations, but doing no further harm has to be the base from which we move forward.

Doing no further harm in the workplace and in our communities became a national conversation this week, thanks to the brave voice of a 25-year-old woman who evidently was not provided with the trauma-informed response she needed when she alleged that she had been raped at her place of work.

Trauma-informed care is also an international discussion point, with the City of Baltimore’s 36-year-old Mayor Brandon Scott swearing in 29 people to a Trauma-Informed Care Task Force this week. The Task Force is charged with developing a citywide strategy for addressing and reducing trauma for people living in their community. 

Imagine that: a city with population bigger than Tasmania, with a legislated trauma-informed taskforce that plans to begin by training top city officials, including emergency services personnel, on how to respond effectively to those who have experienced trauma.

To me this is an example of leading systemic change. Those with lived experience have long argued for better responses from services that reflect an understanding of trauma. A desire for a greater emphasis on trauma-informed care is certainly not new. Our minimum expectation of care should be that no further harm is experienced in the system, or beyond.

How we respond to trauma really matters.

And we know that true trauma-informed services aim to do no further harm to individuals in our reactions, actions, or words.

Just like we know from recent data released by the AIHW that most people admitted to a mental health bed have routinely waited for more than eight hours in Emergency Departments.

A long wait in a busy ED can be challenging for all of us and can further complicate the often traumatic experience of being unwell and being admitted to an acute mental health unit.

This is just one clear example of how our current system structurally fails to provide trauma-informed care, especially for those in a mental health crisis, even though we know it’s not best practice.

Systems and structures and people all contribute to a lack of responses that respect the impact of trauma in people’s lives.

Which is why the systemic and cultural nature of this issue is so important. An independent review of the system and culture that did not afford a trauma-informed response to Brittany Higgins when she most needed it is welcome. Strong voices, thoughtful review leading to system and structural change and even legislation can help improve how we respond to people and their trauma, and how we help them.

At Mental Health Australia, where one of our key priorities is to champion an effective voice for those with lived experience, I can only hope that the very brave voice we heard from this week is amplified by others. We need to see improvement, and in the first instance do no further harm.

Leanne Beagley

Response to the Department of Health survey on the final recommendations of the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health

Read Mental Health Australia’s response to the Australian Government’s Department of Health survey, which sought views on the final recommendations in the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health Final Report (PC Report), particularly with respect to priorities and implementation issues.



On Monday I have meeting with Minister Hunt’s advisor, Michael Gardner and on Tuesday I have my regular meeting with CEO of the National Mental Health Commission, Christine Morgan.
On Wednesday I am looking forward to talking with Chris Wood at The Mandarin.
Thursday includes meetings with the Embrace (Multicultural Mental Health) Steering Committee and with a local advocate for reducing stigma for people living with mental illness.
On Friday I have the Primary Health Reform Steering Committee and also strategic planning meeting for the National Disability and Carer Alliance


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Member Profiles


Black Dog Institute
Black Dog Institute is the only medical research institute in Australia to investigate mental health across the lifespan. Our aim is to create a mentally healthier world for everyone.  We do this through ‘translational’ research. Integrating our research studies, education programs, digital tools and apps, clinical services, and public resources to discover new solutions, foster connections and create real-world change.

MindShift Foundation
Led by Founder and CEO Elizabeth Venzin, Mindshift are a small but passionate group of industry leaders who donate theirtime and expertise with unrelenting dedication to promoting the importance of positive mental health. Mission: To help individuals, families, communities and workplaces recognise the importance of self-worth, to encourage preventative mental health intervention, and to offer support to the community through awareness campaigns, resources and public discussions. Vision: That a healthy wellbeing and positive mental health can be achieved by any person of any age and from any background.


Embrace Multicultural Mental Health News

The Australian Department of Health’s implementation plan sets out principles to ensure that information and services for the COVID-19 Vaccination Program are delivered in appropriate languages and formats for people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, and within appropriate facilities and locations. You can access the plan here.


Mental Health News

ReachOut announces new Board Chair

ReachOut has announced that Julie White will step down from her role of Chair of the ReachOut Board this month, following 10 years of service. Current ReachOut Board Member, Andrew Wilson, has been announced as the new Chair.

Read more

Mental health bed waiting times continue to blow out

Shadow Minister for Mental Health, Emma Kealy, says thousands of Victorians presenting to emergency departments for mental health reasons are waiting longer than eight hours to be admitted to a mental health bed. “This represents 6059 Victorians being forced to wait for support when they are at their most vulnerable.”

Read more

Head to Health: Set some personal goals for your mental health and wellbeing in 2021

A new year is a great time to set some personal mental health goals. The Australian Department of Health has highlighted information and resources for overcoming anxiety and stress, sleeping better, and having healthier relationships in the year ahead. 

Read more

Date set for Mental Health Royal Commission final report

Premier, Daniel Andrews says the final report and recommendations of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System will be tabled on Tuesday, 2 March, 2021 prior to an historic joint sitting of the Victorian Parliament. The Parliament will hear directly from Chair, Penny Armytage AM, Professor Patrick McGorry AO and a member of the Victorian community with lived experience of mental illness.

Read more


Reducing Social Isolation for Seniors Grant Program

The NSW government is investing a maximum of $600,000, to be allocated in one-off funding opportunities of between $10,000 and $60,000, for initiatives and projects to reduce social isolation for older people aged 65 years and over, or 50 years and over for Aboriginal people, who are socially isolated or at risk of social isolation. Information on the grants can be found here.


Your Mind, Your Choice survey for young people

A new Orygen study is exploring treatment preferences for mental ill-health among young people (12-25 yrs) living in Australia who receive or have received treatment for mental ill-health. Take the survey here.


Award-winning TV series Adventure All Stars aligns with Canberra charity

This Is My Brave Australia Inc. is working with the producers of Australia’s newest travel and adventure TV series Adventure All Stars to find cast members. They’re looking for people to undertake a life-changing 6-day journey in the last quarter of 2021. Find more information here.


Resources for parents: body image and eating disorders

The Butterfly Foundation is has opened a survey, aimed at parents of children aged 12 - 18 years, which seeks to understand the information and resources they would like to support them in their parenting on topics related to the prevention of body dissatisfaction and eating disorders. Take the survey here.


Alcohol and other drugs regional community forums

Community leaders and community members are invited to join the conversation about reform of the alcohol and other drugs (AOD) system in Queensland. The Queensland Mental Health Commission is working on a renewed state-wide alcohol and other drugs plan to prevent and reduce harm from alcohol and other drug use, and to guide multi-faceted system and service responses to alcohol and drug issues. The regional forums will gather community perspectives on key themes for reform. Register here.


ACEM ‘Nowhere Else to Go’ Roundtables Continue into 2021

Last year, the Australian College of Emergency Medicine launched the Nowhere Else to Go report in September and hosted follow-up roundtable meetings. This year, these meetings will continue, starting with a Queensland roundtable on 25 February. Panellists include representatives from the College of Emergency Nursing Australasia, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, and Australia’s leading lived experience of suicide organisation, Roses in the Ocean. Register here


Contracted HR/Recruitment Consultant required

The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations is looking for a person with disability who has experience in Personnel/Recruitment to work closely with our CEO to assist with the recruitment of a range of positions which will be advertising over the next couple of weeks. Find out more.



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