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    Yesterday, ‘we, the mental health sector’ united and went to Parliament House to advocate. Not to back one party over another, but to raise our voice across the parliament. What does that mean? It means we went to be heard. We also went to listen, and to do that we met with the key decision makers. Decision makers who can influence real change and real mental health reform for the people that we serve. The one in five Australians who will experience mental illness this year.

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    This week began with a surprise meeting, the Prime Minister inviting a small group to join him and the Minister for Health Greg Hunt to discuss the progress of mental health reform. It was very encouraging to see the Prime Minister and Minister Hunt listening with such interest, and to see a small group of representatives from diverse parts of the mental health sector presenting such a united front.

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    In less than a fortnight more than 80 representatives from the mental health sector will converge on Parliament House in Canberra for the Mental Health Australia Parliamentary Advocacy Day. United and representing a diverse group of advocates, consumers, carers and health professionals, our aim is for a bi-partisan systematic approach to fixing mental health in this nation.

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    Dear friends of Mental Health Australia, It is with the deepest of sadness I write to acknowledge we lost a dear friend of Mental Health Australia last week.

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    Mental Health Australia has a clear vision of mentally healthy people, and mentally healthy communities. This weekend, thousands of people in our community will celebrate the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. For nearly 40 years, Mardi Gras has grown to represent so much more than a march of pride through city streets. And for many LGBTIQ Australians, it is an important, and sometimes the only weekend where routine discrimination does not cast its dark shadow. Discrimination that is a huge contributor to poor mental health.

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    The release of the Productivity Commission’s Issues Paper and study into National Disability Insurance Scheme Costs this week, is an important next step in building a successful NDIS for all Australians. For the last couple of years we have been advocating to explore the scale, sustainability and real costs of the NDIS and its relationship with the mainstream mental health system, and this study is a further chance to do just that.

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    This is the question we posed to consumers at carers when I was the guest of the SANE Forums earlier this week. The overwhelming response only reaffirmed to me that we need to work harder to fix mental health in Australia. Speaking broadly about ‘What is mental health reform? And what does it mean for you?’ I was encouraged by the opportunity to participate in the forum, but more importantly, and as I am lucky enough to do regularly, I benefit greatly from the chance to listen to individual stories of what is working… and what is not.

  • Newsletters / Bulletins

    It is time to fix mental health. It is time to act on the reviews, act on the many promises of reform… and most importantly it is time to keep listening, and learning from consumers and carers. The time is right because the sector is united and calling for real reform.

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    The politicians are back, parliament sits next week, and already we’ve heard from the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition as they both try to set up the political year. Today we also heard from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare with a headline report which says $8.5 billion was spent nationally on mental health services in 2014/15 – a reported increase of $911 million from 2010/11. As we finalise our pre-budget submission, the AIHW report is a perfect example of why we need the Commonwealth to commit to targets, measures and accountabilities in relation to mental health spending and service delivery..

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    Happy New Year and I hope you managed a restful and relaxing break with family and friends. Seven years ago this month, Professor Patrick McGorry AO was named Australian of the Year. Bestowed for his tireless work in mental health for young Australians, the honour helped him, and the mental health sector promote the wider cause and continue to reduce stigma. Such an accolade, and the work of many more since has also helped change the language, change the landscape, and change people’s attitudes towards mental health.

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