CEO Update: Thank you to our staff, board and members for their continued support

Mental Health

The last seven months as Acting CEO of Mental Health Australia has been a rollercoaster of challenges, many rewarding and some, like the bushfires and coronavirus, quite confronting. Above all I would like thank the staff, board, and members for supporting me in the role during this time.

From breaking a Guinness World Record on World Mental Health Day in October last year, to a horror summer for Australia, and now a global pandemic impacting us all on so many levels. None of these have been the ‘business as usual’ I expected to be undertaking while we recruited a new CEO.

Mental Health Australia has stayed true to our task of advocating for mental health reform, despite the difficulties and uncertainties we are all facing. We are still delivering for our members, today’s mini Members Policy Forum with Professor Alan Rosen is another example of that, and we all know we still have a lot to do to help the sector recover and rebound over the coming months and years. And the Australian community.

We know the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health will now land in a completely different health and economic environment than anyone could have imagined. We also know as a sector we did our best to unite and deliver submissions asking for vision and solutions, rather than more of the same but better.

Our Embrace Multicultural Mental Health Project has seen record engagement in recent webinars, while our broader work with the National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum and National Register of Consumer & Carer Representatives continues to improve and expand as we move to new ways of virtual engagement.

Our policy team continue to produce quality submissions on a range of issues and most recently have been focusing on advocating for people in need of psychosocial support, yet unable to receive it through the NDIS.

Our communications team have been working to promote a new series of positive and informative videos from some well-known Australians, and some not so well-known (me!), but all key mental health reminders to help us all through this time. “Look after your mental health, Australia.”

And our corporate team have continued to keep the engine room running as new working from home arrangements and logistics required us to be flexible while still maintaining robust governance and compliance.

Thank you so much to my amazing colleagues: Anna, Anup, Amy, Charlene, Danica, Delia, Emma, Felicity, Harry, Ingrid, Kath, Katie, Kylie B, Kylie W, Lach, Liz, Ruth and Victoria for all of your support over the last seven months. And thank you to the board for their support and guidance, especially our Interim Chair Ms Robyn Kruk AO who I have been so fortunate to work with.

Next week we will officially welcome Dr Leanne Beagley as the new CEO of Mental Health Australia – starting on Tuesday 28 April – and the staff are all looking forward to our video induction sessions with Leanne, and then benefiting from her depth of knowledge, leadership and mental health experience.

I’m looking forward to continuing to support members, stakeholders, consumers and carers as I return to being Deputy CEO.

Best wishes to you all, and for those commemorating ANZAC Day tomorrow, we’ve included some tips below from the Returned Services League (RSL) – where the theme this year is ‘Light Up The Dawn with Our ANZAC Spirit’.

Kind regards,

Melanie Cantwell
Acting CEO

In the lead-up to ANZAC Day, RSLs across the nation are asking you to show your ANZAC spirit. Whether you’re in an outback town or on our beautiful coastline, we can all show our ANZAC spirit this ANZAC Day.

At 6am on ANZAC Day, #lightupthedawn by standing at the end of your driveway, on your balcony or in your living room to remember all those who have served and sacrificed.

Pledge your place and stream a short commemorative service on ANZAC Day.

Please join us in this special moment. #ANZACspirit #lightupthedawn

RSVP and find out more via the Facebook event

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The Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (the Framework) is a free, nationally available online resource which allows organisations and individual practitioners to evaluate and enhance their cultural responsiveness. It has been mapped against national standards to help you meet your existing requirements, with access to a wide range of support and resources. 

On 8 April, the Embrace Project held a webinar with 116 participants from across Australia on the Framework for Mental Health in Multicultural Australia discussing Module 1: Planning Strategically to Meet Multicultural Community Needs. Watch the webinar here!

Stay tuned for upcoming webinars, with the next one being held on Wednesday 3 June.

We look forward to staying connected with you to improve mental health services for CALD communities across Australia.

Kids Helpline has been hit with a sharp spike for mental health counselling, with children and young people attempting to contact the service every 69 seconds. 

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Alarming findings released last week by YouGov regarding the stress Australians are feeling as a result of COVID-19 has prompted headspace to issue a warning to family, friends and young people to seek and access support if they’re not coping as early as possible.

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Digital mental health service ReachOut Parents is urging Australian parents of teenagers to make their own mental health a priority as they face increasing pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic and is providing free online support for parents of teenagers to help them manage the challenges that families are facing. 

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Individuals and organisations are encouraged to make a submission about the 2019-20 bushfire season to the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements by Tuesday 28 April 2020.

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Minister for Health The Hon Greg Hunt MP annouced this week the Australian Government has taken urgent action to protect the lives of people with disability as the nation continues to confront the coronavirus pandemic. 

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Next week the Mental Health Australia team is excited to have our new CEO Leanne Beagley start with us in our ‘virtual office’ from Tuesday. 

On Thursday members of our Executive team will be participating in the next National Peak Bodies Bushfire Recovery Coordinators Forum and the next Disability Support Services Committee meeting via teleconference.

On Friday, members of our Executive team will be participating in the next teleconference with DRO Peak Bodies and Minister Ruston.

Please note our office will be closed on Monday 27th April for the ANZAC Day Public Holiday, reopening on Tuesday 28th April 2020. 

Occupational Therapy Australia is the national professional association representing occupational therapy in Australia. They offer opportunities for their members to enhance best practice through professional development, support, and access to profession-specific information.
Occupational therapists are qualified health professionals who work with people of all ages and abilities to do the things they need and want to in all aspects of life, such as taking care of oneself and others, working, volunteering, and participating in hobbies, interests and social events. Occupational therapists call these things “occupations”. The primary goal of occupational therapy is to enable people to participate in the occupations of everyday life.
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Wellways Australia Limited is a leading not-for-profit mental health and disability support organisation with services in Queensland, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and Tasmania. Their services span mental health, disability and community care, and reach thousands of people each year. They work with a diverse range of people living with mental health issues or various disabilities, and their families, friends and carers, to bring about positive change and build good lives in their communities.
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Occupational Therapy Australia invites you to participate in the OT Mental Health Forum to be held on Monday 16 November 2020 at Crown Promenade, Melbourne, Victoria. The theme for this year’s forum is Connect to Create Change. The forum provides the opportunity for us to come together and exchange ideas, to share practices and challenges, to network and meet new colleagues and to learn from an exciting array of current OT mental health practice and research activity.

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The Health Care Transformation Leadership Program is a collaboration between the Australian Centre for Value-Based Healthcare, the Australian National University and the Value Institute for Health & Care at the University of Texas in Austin, USA. This is the first time an education program focused specifically on value-based health care has been offered in Australia.

This webinar will explore and provide an overview of value-based health care and why and how it can be implemented in Australia. Speakers include AHHA Chair Dr Deborah Cole, who led the development of Dental Health Services Victoria’s value-based care program; Professor Russell Gruen, Dean of the College of Health and Medicine at The Australia National University: and Professor Elizabeth Teisberg and Dr Alice Andrews, from the Value Institute for Health & Care at the University of Texas.

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The AMA National Conference, which was to be held in May 2020, has been postponed. As a result, the AMA has decided to defer the 2020 AMA Public Health Awards until later in the year. Nominations are open for an extended period up until Thursday, 24 September 2020.

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Our friends at the Caring Fairly Campaign have developed a short survey for carers to share their experiences during the COVID-19 outbreak. Results from the survey will inform Caring Fairly’s advocacy to government around carers’ rights and help ensure carers are supported through the pandemic. It’s an important opportunity to make sure your voice is heard. The short survey takes about 10-15 minutes to complete and as a recognition of your time you can go into the draw to win one of 10 $50 Coles/Myer vouchers. 

You can take the survey here. 

For more information please contact Caring Fairly Coordinator Gemma Muir at

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Connect 2020 is Suicide Prevention Australia’s webinar series bringing together thought leaders and innovators to share ideas to support our vision of a world without suicide. Connect 2020 is a unique opportunity to connect and learn from mental health and suicide prevention leaders.

The webinars will explore a range of topics including mentally healthy workplaces, mens’ health, carers and postvention. The webinars are designed for those working in suicide prevention; mental wellbeing; human resources; workplace health and safety; research; and people with lived experience.

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Independent Community Living Australia (ICLA) warmly invites you to the live online launch of Australia’s first virtual peer support service, eFriend. eFriend provides non-clinical, peer-based mental health support to people experiencing loneliness, isolation, distress, difficulty coping and the impact of trauma, anxiety, depression or thoughts of self-harm.

This one hour event will officially launch and announce the opening of the eFriend service for all Australians and will feature a panel discussion on peer-worker support delivered as Australia deals with COVID-19.

  • Launch Date: Tuesday 28 April 2020
  • Launch Time: 10:00am -11.00am AEST
  • Location: This is a secure login LIVE event. You will be sent a login and password on receipt of your RSVP
  • RSVP: Please RSVP by Friday 24 April to Rachel Kathriner at or on 0402 737 042

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