As many of us are faced with changing restrictions and potential isolation, it is more important than ever to prioritise our mental health and wellbeing. I encourage each of you to not only reach out for support when you need it but to check in with your family, friends, colleagues and communities. Especially those who may live alone, without close friends and family nearby. Our friends in Victora need our support more than ever and many outside those areas may be indirectly impacted also. The Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service is available 24/7 for everyone.
We have made great progress on the Commission’s projects this month with the National Workplace Initiative now seeking feedback on a discussion paper to help shape the core framework. The Commission continues to work to improve Australia’s mental health and suicide prevention system, and act as a catalyst for change to achieve those improvements.
We continue to see the Australian Government’s commitment to mental health with several announcements this month including the landmark new national Closing the Gap agreement that features the goal to significantly reduce suicide of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the recent news that 10 additional Medicare subsidised psychological therapy sessions will be available for those impacted by further restrictions during the second wave of the pandemic and the launch of a new headspace satellite service in Northam. The Western Australia Government has also announced their first Chief Medical Officer for Mental Health and we have seen some new funding announcements including $56m funding to provide mental health, alcohol and other drug support, and the Victorian government providing $8.75m in funding for bushfire mental health.
While we may be working from home or restricting our physical contact, I am encouraged by the dedication of the mental health sector as it continues to seek and make change to support the strong mental health and wellbeing of all Australians.
Stay safe and well.
Historic new Closing the Gap agreement
The Commission welcomes the new national Closing the Gap agreement that was announced last week. The involvement of Indigenous communities and peak organisations in the development of the four priority reforms and the 16 new targets, including the goal to significantly reduce suicide of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, is an important step towards improving the lives of all First Nations Peoples.
We want your feedback on the National Workplace Initiative Core Framework
Help us shape the core framework that will act as the centerpiece of the NWI, informing the scope, resources, tools and supports provided within the NWI.
Tell us your thoughts on our discussion paper via our online feedback survey. You can submit ideas anonymously, on behalf of a group or just as an interested individual. The survey closes on 16 Aug 2020.
Further mental health support for COVID-19 second wave
This weekend the Australian Government announced it will provide 10 additional Medicare subsidised psychological therapy sessions for people subjected to further restrictions in areas impacted by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
White paper on reducing COVID-19 stress in communities
Suicide Prevention Australia and Wesley Mission released a white paper on reducing the stress from COVID-19 in communities at the start of the month. The report found Australian’s suicide risk was increased by three factors; economic downturn and social isolation increasing the risk of family violence and substance abuse, both of which are correlated with a higher suicide risk.
First WA Chief Medical Officer for Mental Health
Earlier this month, Westen Australia appointed Dr Sophie Davison as its first Chief Medical Officer, Mental Health. She will report directly to the WA Mental Health Commissioner and contribute clinical expertise to policy development and consumer and community-focused clinical care.