Fifth National Mental Health Plan consultations

Face-to-face consultation workshops were held throughout November and early December on the Fifth National Mental Health Plan, which seeks to establish a national approach for collaborative government effort to achieve a better integrated mental health service system for consumers and carers. An online survey, and the opportunity for written submissions, was also available. Read our open letter, responding to the draft plan.

Greater transparency for mental health services

Victoria’s Mental Health Services Annual Report 2015-16 will provide a greater understanding of the public mental health system, identifying system strengths, challenges and opportunities. It’s the first time comprehensive information about Victoria’s public mental health system has been compiled in a single, easily accessible document.

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

You can read about the progress of the NDIS over the last 12 months in the NDIA’s 2015-16 Annual Report. It is the agency’s third annual report, featuring achievements, participant stories and growth opportunities ahead.

The Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS has announced they will inquire into the provision of services under the NDIS for people with psychosocial disabilities related to a mental health condition. Community Mental Health Australia (CMHA) has voiced its strong concerns, with CMHA president and Wellways CEO Elizabeth Crowther stating in a media release: “Funding for a number of Federally funded mental health programs is being removed and placed in the NDIS and a significant number of the people who now receive these services won’t be eligible for the NDIS. These programs have been in existence for over a decade and funding being taken away will have a devastating impact for consumers and their families and carers.”

The NDIS recently released its Information, Linkages and Capacity-Building (ILC) Commissioning Framework, outlining proposed ILC outcomes, how ILC will interact with NDIS and mainstream services, and how ILC grants will operate. A summary is available here.

If you are on the NDIS journey, or will start in the next few years, consider filling out a short survey prepared by the Every Australian Counts team here. Their website also contains the latest NDIS news.

A new NDIS fact sheet about how the NDIS supports participants with psychosocial disability has also been developed.

Major award winners announced

The inaugural Australian Mental Health Prize 2016 has been awarded to Kim Ryan, the CEO of the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses, who was recognised for her promotion and support of mental health nursing. Kim believes nurses and midwives have the capacity to improve the mental health of the community and, in particular, that health outcomes for people who experience mental health conditions are substantially improved when a mental health nurse is involved.

Pat Anderson AO, a tireless advocate for the rights and welfare of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, has won the prestigious 2016 Human Rights Medal. As Chair of the Lowitja Institute and co-chair of the Prime Minister’s Referendum Council, Pat has made an exceptional contribution to advancing the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, particularly in regards to education, health, early childhood development, and violence against women and children.

Working Together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Wellbeing Principles and Practice – 2nd edition release

The second edition of Working Together is intended for staff, students and all health practitioners working in areas that support Indigenous mental health and wellbeing. It includes several new chapters on issues and strategies influencing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and social and emotional wellbeing. The full book can be downloaded here.

Insurance industry and mental health

The insurance industry has been under the spotlight this year about its discriminatory practices against people with mental illness. Mental Health Australia’s recent submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services explained how providers of life, income protection and travel insurance have been assessing people with a mental health condition as a homogenous group presenting a high risk to insurers. ABC Radio National has featured several stories about the issues.

Inquiry into indefinite detention of people with cognitive and psychiatric impairment

A recent report of the Senate Community Affairs References Committee inquiry, into indefinite detention of people with cognitive and psychiatric impairment in Australia, includes far-reaching recommendations for governments to work together on a nationally consistent approach. While noting that states and territories have primary carriage of forensic legislation, and the delivery of corrective services and disability services, many of the Committee’s recommendations are for action by the Australian Government.

Disability sector and issues of abuse

Victoria’s Disability Services Commissioner has called on the disability sector to make “fundamental changes” to the way it addresses the endemic issues of abuse highlighted in a recent parliamentary inquiry. Read the story here.

Events in 2017

Time to mark your diary for these 2017 forums and conferences: