Advocacy promotes and protects the human rights and needs of people who experience disadvantage, or are at risk of being disadvantaged.
Advocacy is an important part of what we do at Wellways, because people experiencing mental health challenges, and their families, friends and carers, face multiple forms of disadvantage and human rights deprivations. These include housing instability, unemployment, poverty, isolation and social exclusion, inadequate access to health and support services and untreated chronic physical illnesses.
Full participation in the community is a human right. Wellways has a vision for society’s future, in which people experiencing mental health issues and psychosocial disability, as well as their families, friends and carers, are understood, accepted and provided the same opportunities as everyone else. The pathway towards this vision involves challenging social and systemic barriers, such as stigma, discrimination and social exclusion.
Wellways was established in 1978 by a group of carers who were concerned about the inadequacy of support and service options for family members who had severe mental health challenges. They formed a united voice and collectively advocated to governments for much needed services. The advocacy values that motivated the establishment of Wellways four decades ago remain central to our vision and the work we do today.
Wellways’ Advocacy Framework guides us in undertaking advocacy. It describes past achievements by mental health advocacy movements, the current and most widespread forms of exclusion that people with mental health issues encounter, and the most effective approaches to tackling the major issues.
What issues are you passionate about? What change do you wish to see in Australia’s mental health system? What role do you want to play?
Ways to be involved with advocacy
Become a Wellways member: Wellways advocacy members have the power to influence the future direction of mental health in Australia by being part of a shared voice. Members receive regular newsletters about advocacy activities, information about advocacy events in your community, surveys about advocacy concerns, and resources to assist in leading or participating in advocacy campaigns.
Get involved where you live: Attend a regional advocacy workshop, which aims to generate local leadership, encourage natural networks and involvement in advocacy strategies that are important in your community. Check the advocacy news feed below for details.
Join our Call to Action: If you’re interested in systemic change, become involved in our Call to Action campaigns, where we lobby governments about the big issues and demand changes to legislation, funding and policy.
Targeting zero, the review of hospital safety and quality assurance in Victoria
The Victorian Clinical Council is one of the new organisations the Department of Health and Human Services is establishing as part of the Victorian Government’s Better, Safer Care response to Targeting zero, the review of hospital safety and quality assurance in Victoria (October 2016). The Victorian Clinical Council’s purpose is to provide a mechanism for collective leadership from clinicians and consumers to drive improvements in health care quality and health outcomes for all Victorians. More information please refer to the Media Release
Expressions of interest are now being sought for membership of the Victorian Clinical Council. The current expression of interest process is for private and public sector clinicians and for health service and hospital CEOs. Consumer representatives will be invited to apply to become members of the Victorian Clinical Council through a separate expression of interest process that will open by the end of November. If you would like to register to be notified when the consumer expression of interest opens please email your name and contact details to VCC@dhhs.vic.gov.au or phone the Victorian Clinical Council Secretariat on (03) 9096 2159.
Participating on the Victorian Clinical Council will provide an opportunity to shape health care delivery in Victoria through providing broad strategic advice to the Victorian Government.
Victorian Mental Health Act to legalise ECT advance treatment statements
The Victorian Medical Treatment Planning Bill proposes groundbreaking changes to the Mental Health Act. Patients who have ‘capacity’ can make advance statements about ECT treatment, which will be recognised as legally binding. Clinicians will be obliged to ascertain if individuals have advance care directives, and comply with these. Do the amendments go far enough? Should other states and territories follow? Now’s a good time to lobby politicians about your views.
Have your say on the Victorian Carer Statement
In October 2016, the Victorian Government announced it would develop a Victorian Carer Statement to recognise, acknowledge and respect carer contributions and to make a commitment to support carers better. The Victorian Carer Statement will explain what carers want from health and community services and what they think are important to services available in Victoria.
The Victorian Government wants carers to be acknowledged in their own right. Carers may have particular needs and preferences regarding housing, the law, employment, education, transport and health.
The Victorian Carer Statement will:
- gather evidence for State Government investment and develop a strong case for a whole-of-government carer strategy
- show where there are gaps between State and Commonwealth support and services for carers
- understand from carers and family where improvements can be made to health and community services
Carers Victoria will also consult with service providers, peak bodies and organisations that support or represent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and other carers.
Wellways Australia fully supports the development of a Victoria Carer Statement and will clearly outline the specific needs of mental health carers and families. During April, we will working with our regions to hold mental health specific consultations that will inform our written response. If you would like to have your say, please email us or join us and become an advocacy member.
Disability Discrimination Commissioner National Consultations 2016-2017
If you or someone you care for has experienced discrimination due to having a psychosocial disability, you might wish to inform the commissioner at a consultation. The focus of the consultations will be guided by Commissioner Alastair McEwin’s National Consultation Discussion paper, which sets out five proposed priority areas: employment, education, housing, the criminal justice system and the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).