Weekly CEO Update: Sustaining hope

Close up image of the legs of someone wearing ripped jeans. The rip is just above the knee and a smiley face is drawn on the skin revealed by the rip

“The shared humanity of our community can be measured by the way we treat one another — including the kindness, compassion, dignity and respect we show.”

This is the opening line from the Forward to Final Report of the Royal Commission into Mental Health Services in Victoria.

And it would have been just as relevant in the Aged Care Royal Commission Report and in the current work of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with a Disability.

And it could be equally as relevant and poignant in considering the treatment of women, of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people, of those in the LGBTQI+ community, of refugees and migrants, of the homeless and of those challenged by addictions or other life experiences that create disadvantage.

So on the eve of International Women’s Day, the Labour Day long weekend for some states and the Sydney Mardi Gras, we are overwhelmed by evidence that inclusion and respect is still absolutely a work in progress. We take some steps forward and other steps back. It feels important to mention those four words again: kindness, compassion, dignity and respect.

As we grapple with the realities of abuse and disrespect, the lack of kindness and compassion and overwhelming indignity, we are learning as a community to listen to those at the centre, and to give them safe spaces to share their experience. 

It is these courageous stories that expose the sad reality, and elicit our compassion. And it is not that witnesses to recent Royal Commissions or those speaking out about their experiences of abuse and trauma are the first people to tell their story, but that somehow now, in 2021, our community is more able to listen and to hear and (perhaps) to act.

Real structural and cultural change takes time and is deeply challenging. It will require leadership and a willingness to take risks. 

Progress can be slow and disheartening. Those of us who have been ‘in’ the system for many years, like I have, risk becoming cynical about more reports with more recommendations, many of which we have heard before. There is also a risk that in looking back at systems that have been described as ‘broken’ the workforce and leadership can experience feeling blamed, despite the many many earnest and committed people who make up the system. 

So how will we stay optimistic and stay the course through the very real and often uncomfortable, or even costly disruption of change as governments begin to act to bring in promised reform?

A cornerstone for recovery for people with a mental illness, or those who are elderly or those who have suffered trauma is the part that hope plays.

Hope comes from being heard and being taken seriously. 

Hope comes from someone asking you “how can I help you?”

Hope balances despair. 

Hope will sustain us as the machinery of change begins, systems are upended, strategies revised, workforces reformed.

Hope for a future where our community reliably acts with compassion.

At Mental Health Australia we are absolutely committed to reform that will move Australia towards this future. 

We know this means working with you, the mental health ecosystem, to advocate to ensure progress is sustained and real, and that we don’t slip back or become distracted and overwhelmed by the very real barriers to structural and cultural change.

Have a good weekend and sustain the hope. 

Leanne Beagley
CEO


Media releases on this week’s Royal Commissions

You can read our media releases on the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, “Victorian Royal Commission the final piece in solving the national mental health reform puzzle” and on the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, “Mental health concerns among the most common in Aged Care Royal Commission”.

 

NEXT WEEK

On Tuesday I have my regular meetings with both Dr Ruth Vine, Deputy Chief Medical Officer and with Christine Morgan, CEO at the National Mental Health Commission. I also have a meeting with the ACTU team to talk about psychological safety at work.

On Wednesday there is a presentation from the MBS taskforce and meetings with Tamieka Fraser from AGPAL.
 
On Thursday we have our housing and homelessness webinar and also a meeting with the Australian College of Emergency Medicine.

On Friday we have a Mental Health Australia Board Meeting.

 

Member Benefits and Profiles

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Member Profiles

Bipolar Australia logo (two human stick figures in green in the shape "B" and "A" next to the words "Bipolar Australia". Underneath it says "Recovering together...")

Bipolar Australia
Bipolar Australia is a national not-for-profit organisation representing everyone affected by bipolar disorder, including the 598,000 people with the condition, as well as their families, friends, and supporters.


Open Minds logo (blue text saying "open minds" with an arch connecting "p" and "d")

Open Minds
Open Minds is a leading provider of mental health and disability support services in Queensland and Northern New South Wales. With more than 100 years of history, Open Minds is committed to its purpose of enabling an independent and positive future for people living with mental illness and disabilities. Open Minds is also a registered NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) provider, with more than 400 employees spread across 35 locations.

 

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.

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

Full human rights for all Australians with disability, including prisoners

The Victorian Public Advocate launched a major new reform agenda to ensure full human rights for the four million Australians with a disability, including prisoners. Decision Time: Activating the rights of adults with cognitive disability aims to ensure Australia fully meets its United Nations obligations for people with disability within five years.

Read more


New program to support people living with mental illness at risk of homelessness

In a NSW first, people who no longer require acute mental health services but have no home to return to can access temporary accommodation and intervention-based support thanks to the ‘Stepping Stones’ program at Macquarie Hospital. Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor met with some of the program’s first residents to benefit from the initiative which aims to support participants’ wellbeing and to help them transition to community living.

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Improving mental health in Tasmanian workplaces

Elise Archer, Minister for Building and Construction, said a new free online tool designed to help employers across Australia create mentally healthy workplaces and meet their responsibilities under work health and safety laws has been launched today. ‘People at Work’ is Australia’s only validated psychosocial risk assessment tool and will help Tasmanian businesses identify, assess and manage work-related psychosocial hazards and factors, without the need for an expert to interpret the assessment results.

Read more


Respect, care and dignity: Aged Care Royal Commission, $425m immediate response

The Australian Government welcomes the Final Report from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, which has been tabled in Parliament, noting its significant and sweeping proposals for reform of the aged care sector. As a country it is important that we all acknowledge that we need to do more to ensure senior Australians are treated with respect, care and dignity and have access to quality care as they age. The Royal Commission’s Final Report recognises the immense effort of our nurses and carers but also brings the challenges of aged care services into clear focus.

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Looking the Other Way: young people and self-harm

Self-harm among young people in Australia is a significant public health issue, yet one that, like the behaviour itself, remains covered and misunderstood. Orygen have produced a comprehensive report that looks at the prevalence and impact of self-harming behaviour in young people, the barriers to these young access appropriate care and what can be done to improve outcomes for these young people.

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Mental Health Victoria welcomes Royal Commission’s bold vision for the mental health system

Mental Health Victoria welcomes today’s public release of the final report of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s mental health system. Mental Health Victoria CEO Angus Clelland said the release of the Royal Commission’s final report during an historic joint sitting of both houses of the Victorian Parliament today was the most significant development in mental health since de-institutionalisation in the 1990s. It is the culmination of more than two decades of outstanding advocacy efforts from individuals, carers, families, academics, and mental health professionals from across Victoria.

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Mental health reports provide a template for the nation

The report of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System aligns in many ways with the recent report of the Productivity Commission, strengthening the impetus for more effective and equitable care and support Australia-wide, the Consumers Health Forum of Australia says. “The Victorian report shares with the Productivity Commission’s mental health report a blueprint for a fresh standard of support and access to care for mental health.”

Read more

 

Reminders 

Conversations with Eating Disorders QLD - Challenging Fatphobia

Fat activist, intersectional feminist, and thought leader Nic McDermid will be joining Eating Disorders Qld this year for their International Women’s Day celebrations. Tune in via EDQ’s Instagram page at 10:30am (AEST) on Wednesday 10th March to hear Rohie Marshall (EDQ) and Nic McDermid take a deep dive into Challenging Fatphobia. The conversation will also be recorded and made available online after the live event. RSVPs are essential, find out more here.

Occupational Therapy Australia (OTAUS) 2021 National Conference

OTAUS’s 29th National Conference and Exhibition 2021 will proceed as a fully virtual event taking place online 23-25 June 2021 with additional coordinating in-person engagement hubs in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. Early bird registration closes 31 March.

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