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Update

29 Aug 2013

It is only three months until the release of Australia’s second National Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.

We will continue to highlight the big issues that Commissioners believe need to be tackled, to ensure that all Australians can lead a contributing life using new and existing data, but also through the lived experiences of individuals and families.  We will also report back on action and progress since the 2012 Report Card, including responses to the 2012 recommendations and findings.

Aside from developing the Report Card, this year we have taken the lead on a number of important national projects. Some of these projects have arisen from our research and discussions in developing the 2012 Report Card and others were recommendations from the Report Card itself. These include:

-National Contributing Life Project
-National Seclusion and Restraint Project
-Commission meetings in the West and Tasmania
- Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance
-Expert Reference Group’s work on national targets and indicators.

Contributing Life Online Survey, part of the National Contributing Life Project

Next week, we will be launching the Contributing Life online survey.  This pilot survey will enable people with a lived experience of mental health issues, their families and support people, to tell the Commission about their daily lives, what helps them to experience a full life, what hinders and importantly, what would make a difference to their lives. 

We would greatly appreciate your support in promoting the survey through your networks and look forward to your participation.

This survey is one of several activities of our National Contributing Life Project, a commitment of our first Report Card, which is piloting and developing a set of qualitative methodologies by which we can ‘hardwire’ into our reporting, the voices of people with lived experience of mental health issues and their families, friends and other supporters, as well as the community as a whole. 

We want to hear from people who use mental health services and other formal services and supports, people who don’t, and people who are marginalised and may have difficulty in having their voices heard.  We believe this information is essential in building a comprehensive picture of people’s lives and experiences and to inform future Report Cards and drive real improvement.  The project is being overseen by a Project Advisory Group.

This pilot survey follows the successful Contributing Life Conversations campaign, which saw over 100 organisations, individuals and workplaces, host a conversation about what a contributing life means to  Australians. Thanks again to everyone who participated in this initiative.

A number of targeted focus groups are also being planned with the support of partner organisations.

National Seclusion and Restraint Project

The National Seclusion and Restraint Project, another commitment of the 2012 Report Card, is well underway. Since the Commission started, seclusion and restraint has been raised time and again, as an issue that people want something done about and we have been working on it ever since. 

We have engaged a multi-disciplinary team from the University of Melbourne, headed up by Professor Bernadette McSherry, to undertake a research project into the extent of seclusion and restraint in Australia and comparable countries and provide good practice approaches which have led to the reduction and elimination of these practices. 

The major activities will be a global call for evidence of good practice, online surveys, focus groups and an international literature review. The project extends beyond the health and hospital system and facilities (such as inpatient units and emergency departments) to include the use of seclusion and restraint in community, custodial and ambulatory settings (such as remand facilities and patient transport services) and by first responders (such as police). 

The project is in partnership with the Mental Health Commission of Canada and Australian partners, including the Safety and Quality Partnerships Subcommittee, Disability Discrimination Commissioner of the Australian Human Rights Commission and involves state mental health Commissions.

The Commission has formed a Core Reference Group of experts to guide and inform the project.  The group is co-chaired by Dr Chris Ryan and Kath Thorburn, and includes people with lived experience and family representatives, human rights and disability advocates, legal specialists and mental health professionals. 

To find out more about the project and the Core Reference Group members, please visit the project page on our website. In the coming weeks the project website will be transferred to be hosted by the University of Melbourne. 

Commission meetings in the West and Tasmania

Last month the Commission travelled to Western Australia, meeting first with state mental health commissions and representatives of all states and territories in Perth. 

This meeting was to further discussions on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and work, and national targets and indicators following the meeting of international and national commissions in Sydney in March.

Commissioners then spent two days in Port Hedland where they heard about the successes and unique challenges facing people in the Pilbara region.  We were pleased to be joined by the WA Mental Health Commissioner, Mr Eddie Bartnik. 

Thank you to all who took the time to show us though your services,  join the Commissioners and to share your experiences.

Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance

The Commission feels very strongly about the importance of “something meaningful to do”, and we made a specific commitment in the 2012 Report Card to work with business leaders, to call for evidence on and work to advance good workplace practices. 

The Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance brings together business, community and government in a new national coalition, working together. The Alliance’s open call to business for examples of good practice will close at the end of August.  Written case studies will then be developed, for release later this year along with other resources for employers large and small.

Expert Reference Group on mental health reform targets and indicators

The Expert Reference Group, chaired by Prof Allan Fels, is finalising its independent advice to governments on a set of national, whole of life, outcome based targets and indicators for mental health reform following broad consultation. 

Once finalised, the ERG’s recommended framework of targets and indicators will be released publicly.