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Response to the Review of National Mental Health Programmes and Services

23 Jul 2015

Last month the Minister for Health, Hon. Sussan Ley announced the appointment of an Expert Reference Group tasked with guiding the implementation of the National Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services. You can view the profiles of the Expert Reference Group.

We strongly welcome the Minister’s commitment to moving quickly to finalise an action plan by October 2015.  An overhaul of Australia’s mental health system is long overdue, widely supported and achievable.

We would also like to acknowledge the response to the Review from those in the sector, and the community at large. While we may not all agree on the details, what we can agree on is that change is urgently needed, and that it is vital for us to grasp this opportunity for meaningful reform.

Australia can and must do better when it comes to mental health. Every day that reform is delayed is another day we are letting Australians down.

We look forward to keeping you informed on the response to the Review.

Next Commission Meeting

The National Mental Health Commission’s next formal meeting is to be held in Canberra on the 12th and 13th of August.

Minutes from Melbourne meeting- April 25, 2015.

Commission Chair Allan Fels to address the National Press Club

Don’t miss the opportunity to hear Commission Chair Allan Fels present to the National Press Club this year on “Time to aim higher: mental health must be part of Australia’s economic and social reform agenda”. 

Wednesday, 5 August 2015
Arrive from 11.30am, lunch 12 noon, speaker 12.30pm concludes 1.30pm

Please share on social media using twitter handle @pressClubAust and twitter hashtag #NPC in tweets.

Northern Territory visit focuses on Indigenous mental health

In mid-June the Commission visited the Northern Territory to explore issues related to rural, regional, remote and Indigenous mental health, and suicide prevention. This included visiting Elcho Island to meet with the local community and mental health care professionals at the Miwatj Aboriginal Health Corporation in Galiwin’ku; meeting with the  Danila Dilba Health Service, an Aboriginal community-controlled organisation providing culturally-appropriate, comprehensive primary health care and community services to Biluru people in the Yilli Rreung region; a yarning session with Aboriginal elders and other representatives from communities in Darwin, Katherine, Maningrida, Nhurru and Elcho Island, facilitated by National Mental Health Commissioner Prof. Pat Dudgeon; and hearing about remote mental health care from the Malabam Health Board Aboriginal Corporation, beyondblue and Anglicare Way Back Support Service (NT), Menzies Institute research in remote environments and learning more about the Territory’s Suicide Prevention Strategic Action Plan.

Commission Chair Prof. Allan Fels said the visit was an important opportunity for Commissioners to meet with Territory mental health care practitioners, service users and community members and gain firsthand insights into the issues they face.

“By every measure, Indigenous mental health is significantly worse than that of other Australians. It’s time Indigenous Australians had a dedicated mental health plan to close this gap,” Prof. Dudgeon said at the time.

“That’s why the Commission’s Review recommends a dedicated Indigenous mental health plan based on the renewed National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing,” she said.

Prof. Dudgeon said an Indigenous mental health plan would aim to close mental health service gaps by providing culturally appropriate specialist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health services, much needed social and emotional wellbeing and mental health teams in Aboriginal Medical Services, and ensuring general population mental health services are accessible and able to work effectively with Indigenous Australians.

The Commission’s National Review into Mental Health Programmes and Services also calls for Indigenous mental health to be made a national priority with a new ‘Closing the Gap’ mental health target. You can view

Commission statement on Indigenous mental health.

In addition, the Commission was pleased to see InPsych: The Bulletin of the Australian Psychological Society, recently report on the recommendations regarding Indigenous mental health in the Review. The article states that “the Review provided strong recommendations that can substantially close the appalling Indigenous mental health gap with proper funding and implementation”.

Commissioners were grateful and honoured to hear the stories of elders and community members.

Feedback from the people said that they greatly appreciated the Mental Health Commissioners’ genuine interest in listening to and learning from the perspectives of local Indigenous people in relation to issues within their communities.

Read the full ABC news story.

Presentations from National Seclusion Restraint and Reduction Forum available

To help keep the robust dialogue alive on delivering safe and harm-free mental health care across Australia, presentations made at the recent 10th National Seclusion Restraint and Reduction Forum in Melbourne in May 2015 are now available online.

View all presentations.

The Commission used its address at the Forum to release our Statement and Position Paper.

The position paper has been informed by an international literature review, surveys and focus groups with people who have a lived experience of seclusion and restraint. 

Releasing the Statement, National Mental Health Commissioner Jackie Crowe said that decisive action is needed on commitments made ten years ago to reduce and eliminate the use of seclusion and restraint in mental health.

The Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia

The National Mental Health Commission is pleased to support the 'Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia - Towards culturally inclusive service delivery', developed by Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (MHiMA).

A video update was presented at the Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) Congress held in Brisbane in May.  The short film provides updates on the implementation of the Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia from a number of the sites around Australia and included presentations from mental health workers from Victoria, QLD and NSW. 

The work undertaken in developing the MHiMA Framework and the opportunities it presents in improving front line care to people of multicultural backgrounds is in keeping with the National Mental Health Commission's Review; and is a stated performance measure focused on improving cultural responsiveness in mental health services.

Watch a short film on the MHiMA Youtube Channel or find out more about the MHiMA Framework.