Parliamentary Advocacy Day

Later this month,  more than 80 representatives from the mental health sector will converge on Parliament House in Canberra for the Mental Health Australia (MHA) Parliamentary Advocacy Day. Some 40 MPs and Senators will attend the event, including The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, the newly appointed Federal Health Minister. It’s a united push, “to ultimately fix mental health in Australia”, according to the MHA, and highlight the key priorities for Government to address. 

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) news

The NDIS has introduced ‘Nadia’, a ‘virtual assistant’ voiced by actor Cate Blanchett, to provide people with disability with information about the NDIS when and how they want it. Co-designed by people with disability, the Nadia will be used to answer the most common questions people have about the Scheme and, over time, more detailed responses to a wide range of queries. The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) will be holding information sessions during the coming months to inform people how they can engage with Nadia. Watch a short video here.

With 60,000 participants currently in the NDIS, and another 400,000 more in the next three years, the Quality and Safeguarding Framework recently released will provide nationally consistent protections for participants and establish responsibilities of providers and their staff. Read a summary of the Framework content, particularly relevant for mental health providers, here

Resources from peer-led NDIS information sessions, held across Australia by Mental Health Australia, are now available online. The workshops and resources are designed to build the capacity of people with psychosocial disability and their carers around the NDIS.

Attracting enough disability workers for the NDIS, across parts of Australia, has raised concerns in the disability sector. Read the ABC report here

National consultations for developing an LGBTIQ Disability Strategy for the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) are now underway. To be involved, read more here.

The Bill to establish the National Disability Insurance Scheme Savings Fund Special Account, to establish a dedicated fund to meet future costs associated with the NDIS, was recently passed by the House of Representatives and will now be considered by the Senate. Read more here.

Submissions to the Parliamentary Inquiry into the provision of services under the NDIS for people with psychosocial disabilities has been the work at-hand for organisations across the country, including Wellways, to ensure the NDIA addresses a myriad of issues for people with psychosocial disabilities.
Meanwhile, submissions to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into NDIS costs will be an important tool in contributing to the future of the NDIS, as will an audit on the effectiveness of controls implemented by the NDIA to deliver NDIS eligibility assessments consistent with legislative and other requirements.

Brain Awareness Week

This week, 13 to 19 March, is Brain Awareness Week, the global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research. Every March, Brain Awareness Week unites the efforts of partner organisations worldwide in a celebration of the brain for people of all ages. Read about the Brain and Mind Centre, a global leader in brain and mind science research, education and treatment.

Funding for alchohol and drug treatment services

The Turnbull Government will continue to support drug and alcohol treatment services across Australia with funding of more than $75 million a year. Around 15 groups that provide direct drug and alcohol treatment and support services will be given guaranteed funding for another two years until 30 June 2019. This includes services such as drop-in centres that provide counselling and information, withdrawal management and rehabilitation clinics. Read the media release here

National LGBTI suicide prevention strategy

The National LGBTI Health Alliance has released the National LGBTI Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Strategy, to help reverse the alarming statistics surrounding LGBTI people and their mental health. Strategies for Action are designed to ensure that targeted responses adequately and appropriate support the needs of LGBTI people and communities as a priority. Access the report here.

Supported Decision Making Project

The Supported Decision Making (SDM) project, to investigate and support the rights, agency and self-determination of people in the mental health system, produced two internet resources based on research participants’ stories of living with severe mental health problems, as well as carers’ experiences. Find the resources on the Healthtalk Australia website.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

My Life, My Lead is a new online public consultation portal to highlight the issues that support or impede Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have good health. The portal will support shaping the next iteration of the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Health Plan (2013-2013), the Government’s key blueprint to help Close the Gap. Read more here.

A recent article in The Financial Review, Work and income are the only path to Indigenous health, highlights the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians’ health and the need to look at the issue “through an economic lens”.

Efforts to prevent suicides among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should include a focus on reducing over-incarceration, according to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) report. A recent article in Croakey, the social journalism project of health issues and policy, highlighted the issues.

The National Indigenous Human Rights Awards recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons who have made a significant contribution to the advancement of human rights and social justice for their people. Read about the awards here.


Discrimination and disability in public places

Researchers at the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne wish to interview young people with impairments (aged 19-29) about discrimination and disability in public places. The study seeks to produce new knowledge about when, how and where discrimination happens to young people with disabilities in public places, so that efforts can be made to prevent such discriminatory acts in the future. For more information, contact Cathy Vaughan by email or by phone on (03) 9035 6670, or Liz Gill-Atkinson by email or by phone on (03) 8344 3091.

Better outcomes for social housing

A bold new approach will give social housing organisations more power to build, buy and rent homes for vulnerable Victorians. For the first time ever, organisations will be able to utilise a $1 billion fund and access low interest loans using the borrowing power of the Victorian Government. Read more here.

Consumer and Carer Co-Design Initiative

The Consumer and Carer Co-Design Initiative is a national project to enable large numbers of consumer and carers to co-design and co-produce community-based mental health services with PHNs, service providers and practitioners. Consumers and carers can participate in shaping these services and initiate the processes by which this is done properly. Read more here.

Latest edition of newparadigm

The Australian Journal on Psychosocial Rehabilitation, newparadigm, is now published in partnership with Community Mental Health Australia (CMHA), the community mental health national peak body. View the summer edition of newparadigm to learn about the future of the mental health workforce. Wellways CEO Liz Crowther has contributed two important articles, ‘Reflecting the changes in community managed mental health’ and ‘NDIS and its impact on the psychosocial disability workforce’.

Mojo mental health short film festival 2017

Calls for a short non-fiction film, three minutes or less, are now open for the Mojo Short Film Festival, screening during Schizophrenia Awareness Week 2017 (10-16 May). The challenge is to make a short/micro film about ‘Something that makes you happy that you won’t find in a psych ward or a pill’. Find out more here.

Write-ability Goes Regional and Online

Write-ability Goes Regional and Online is a three-year program for aspiring writers with disability living in regional Victoria. It is one of the only disability-led literary initiatives in Australia and will support writers who face barriers to participation and the development of their skills, practice and writing careers. The program starts in Ballarat in April and will target eight regions over the next three years, delivering workshops, author talks and webinars for people with disability interested in writing.

Art and creative writing competitions

The Mental Health Foundation of Australia (Victoria) has announced details of its annual art competition for Mental Health Week (8-14 October 2017). Find details here

The Victorian schools writing competition (years 5-12), with a focus on what students think, feel or have experienced about mental health issues, is designed to promote positive mental health and wellbeing. Prizes will be presented during Mental Health Week. Learn more here.

Human Rights and You

Human Rights and You is a national video-based, e-learning program for disability support workers about why human rights matter when supporting people with disability. The topics, which take approximately 20 minutes to complete, include: what are human rights, rights and responsibilities, when rights go wrong, and asking for help.

Australian Disability and Indigenous Peoples’ Education Fund

This education fund is about helping people complete or undertake courses and programs through providing small grants. Six-monthly grants of up to $2,500 will assist people with disabilities to continue their learning. The current round closes 31 March 2017. More details here.