CEO Update: Time to galvanise support for consumer and carer leadership with a new direction for Mental Health Australia

As we move into the second half of 2020, a year we’ll already never forget, this moment in time has given many of us the chance to reflect and to also look at how we might realign our focus and strategic intent in the future.

Coming in as the new CEO for Mental Health Australia has only heightened this approach for me, as well as speaking to so many members and stakeholders over the last few months. So many passionate people working so hard.

At Mental Health Australia we have used this time to look at how best we can advocate for change now, and into the future, and over the coming months we’ll start to work on a new strategic direction as well narrow down the focus on key priorities so that our mental health ecosystem will thrive.

In my first two months in the role, I’ve quickly realised that our commitment to prioritising the strategic leadership and visionary work needed in relation to amplifying the voices of all mental health consumers and carers needs to be a key focus right now.  

We need to learn more from the people with lived experience, and the families, friends and carers who walk with them. 

As the national peak body for mental health, we want to define and deliver true co-design for leadership and vision in the consumer and carer movement.

With this in mind, and having had time to reflect and look at how best we can focus our existing resources, I’ve made the decision to restructure some internal roles and functions at Mental Health Australia to ensure resources are targeted to where they are needed most.

This change will amplify the wider consumer and carer voice in leadership and strategy, and is a shift that will also help inform the future strategic direction of the organisation as a whole as we seek to advocate for a better mental health ecosystem that is truly person led.

In addition to supporting the functioning of the National Mental Health Consumer Carer Forum and the National Register of Mental Health Consumer and Carer Representatives there needs to be very senior expertise applied to supporting and fostering a future vision for consumer and carer leadership in Australia.

Our Deputy CEO Melanie Cantwell will take on this strategic and visionary role within Mental Health Australia, which will give it more senior authority and sharper focus at an executive and Board level. 

Such a change has created some choices for Director of Consumer and Carer Programs for Mental Health Australia, Kylie Wake, who as a result has chosen to move on, finishing her almost 11 year journey with us on 17 July 2020.

Kylie’s responsibilities as the lead Director for Embrace Multicultural Mental Health will now sit with Director of External Relations, Lachlan Searle.

From the outset, Kylie impressed me as a gentle, wise and experienced leader and I am sorry she is leaving us, but delighted she has been able to make a positive choice for herself and her family. I’m sure you will join me in thanking Kylie for many years of considered and committed leadership as part of the executive team at Mental Health Australia.

In terms of our next steps, we look forward to working with all of our members and stakeholders to support the important voices of and leadership by mental health consumers and carers.

Our vision of mentally healthy communities, mentally healthy people can only be achieved if consumers and carers are central to all of our work.

Have a good weekend.

Leanne Beagley

Mental Health Australia adds our welcome to Gill Callister as the new CEO of Mind Australia. Gill brings a breadth of leadership and management experience to the role and we look forward to continue working closely with Mind under her leadership when she begins on July 13. 

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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. 

Watch this space for updates on further workshops and webinars for 2020.

Migration Council Australia has co-developed a multilingual mobile app for Australia’s CALD communities about COVID-19, its impact and available support. The MyAus COVID-19 pp allows users to browse articles, search for topics, view short animations with helpful summaries, and find useful tips and contacts to help adjusting during COVID-19. MyAus COVID-19 is free and available in 25 languages.

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The inquiry final report was handed to the Australian Government on 30 June 2020. The release of the final report by the Government is the final step in the process. Under the Productivity Commission Act 1998, the Government is required to table the report in each House of the Parliament within 25 sitting days of receipt.

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Treasure Jennings has been appointed as the new Mental Health Complaints Commissioner and the Disability Services Commissioner.

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Trauma training and wellbeing workshops are among the supports being offered to educators in bushfire-affected communities as part of Beyond Blue’s bushfire response.

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Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), Stuart Robert this week announced the expansion of the National Community Connector Program (NCCP), after committing to a $20 million expansion in November last year.

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Veterans and their families are being asked to provide their views on how the ex-service community is consulted and engaged, and how this can be improved.

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Beyond Blue has released two new booklets designed to help people separate fact from fiction about what really works for managing anxiety and depression. 

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The National Mental Health Sector Reference Group met on Thursday June 11 2020 by video conference.

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The peak body for psychiatrists has urged Australia’s Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, to make permanent the availability of telehealth and telephone consultations for all patients wherever they happen to live.

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The National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA) and the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) are pleased to be working with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to implement a component of the National Community Connector Program (NCCP). 

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A new support item called the psychosocial recovery coach (recovery coach) will be available for participants of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). This new support item has been developed in response to feedback on integrating recovery-oriented practice within the NDIS. 

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On Monday I will be meeting with more stakeholders and members.

On Tuesday we have a Mental Health Australia Board Governance Committee meeting and a Vision 2030 meeting while on Wednesday I’ll be meeting with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to discuss their Mental Health and Suicide Information Activities.

On Thursday we’ll be holding our Mini Members Policy Forum online with Gerry Naughtin from the NDIA to discuss the introduction of a recovery-oriented approach to the NDIS through the development of a Psychosocial Disability Recovery Framework and the introduction of a Psychosocial Recovery Coach support item. I also have a meeting with MP Emma McBride, Shadow Minister for Mental Health and Carers.

On Friday I am looking forward to meeting with the National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum, and then in the afternoon participating in some ‘futurist’ discussions with Mental Health Australia member, the Queensland Alliance for Mental Health. 

ReachOut is Australia’s leading online mental health organisation for young people and their parents. Their practical support, tools and tips help young people get through anything from everyday issues to tough times – and the information they offer parents makes it easier for them to help their teenagers, too. ReachOut has been changing the way people access help since launching as the world’s first online mental health service nearly 20 years ago. Everything they create is based on the latest evidence and designed with experts, and young people or their parents. That’s why their digital self-help tools are trusted, relevant and easy to use. Available for free anytime and pretty much anywhere, ReachOut is accessed by 132,000 people in Australia every month. That’s more than 1.58 million each year.
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Brisbane North PHN supports clinicians and communities in Brisbane’s northern suburbs, Moreton Bay Regional Council and parts of Somerset Regional Council. It covers approximately 4,100 km2 of urban, regional and rural areas, with a population of over 900,000. The Federal Government announced the establishment of 31 Primary Health Networks to replace the national network of Medicare Locals in 2015. The Government selected successful PHNs through an open and competitive process, including the Brisbane North PHN. The key objectives of the Brisbane North PHN are:

  • increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of medical services for patients, particularly those at risk of poor health outcomes; and
  • improving coordination of care to ensure patients receive the right care in the right place at the right time.

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New Operational Guidelines for Supported Independent Living (SIL), Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) and Medium Term Accommodation (MTA) are now available.

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The ACT government, under the Mental Health Support Package made the decision to fund the implementation of Safe Haven Cafes in the ACT. The Safe Haven Café will provide a safe alternative to the emergency department and other crisis services for adults (over 18 years) experiencing loneliness, personal difficulties, or simply seeking social connection, which are all factors influencing mental health and wellbeing and have been substantially impacted in the current COVID-19 context.

In this webinar you will have the opportunity to hear about the Safe Haven Café at St Vincent’s in Victoria, and Living Edge an alternative to the Emergency Department for people in suicidal distress in QLD. You will also have an opportunity to ask questions and discuss potential models for the ACT. 

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National suicide prevention charity R U OK? has launched ‘Hey Sport, R U OK?’ a campaign that will benefit everyone in your sporting community. The campaign kicks off with resources and tips for coaches to help them build an R U OK? Culture and ensure all members of their sporting community feel safe and supported. An R U OK? Culture is one built on mutual respect, trust, authenticity and a willingness to support those in your grassroots sporting community who might be struggling.

The new resources will help coaches share the R U OK? message, spot the signs that someone might be struggling and provide tips to guide them on what to say and do in the event one of their athletes or players is not OK. Get involved and be a coach that changes lives and asks R U OK? at

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Ninti One and Interplay have launched Disability in the Bush, a free app which helps people in Indigenous communities, and their carers, understand their disability, the supports available from the NDIS and empower them to make their own decisions and live a good life. The app was funded by a grant from the NDIA, and its development was led by Aboriginal researchers and informed by people with disability in 5 remote NT communities.

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Mindframe for Alcohol and Other Drugs would like to advise the sector that SANE StigmaWatch for Alcohol and Other Drugs is now operational. As part of the Mindframe for Alcohol and other Drugs sustainability plan, Mindframe has engaged with SANE Australia to extend the reach of SANE StigmaWatch to include media relating to alcohol and other drugs.

The StigmaWatch for Alcohol and Other Drugs program has been established to support the media and ensure reporting about alcohol and other drugs in Australia is done responsibly, respectfully and safely, in order to help reduce stigma and encourage access to support services.

Mindframe for Alcohol and Other Drugs would like to encourage the sector to report any alcohol and other drugs related content that is not in line with the Mindframe for Alcohol and Other Drugs guidelines to StigmaWatch for Alcohol and Other Drugs.

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VMIAC is the peak consumer run organisation in Victoria, therefore, they work closely with people with lived experience of mental health challenges. When COVID-19 started, they noticed a worrying increase in calls and emails from consumers, as well as an increase in the complexity of the issues they were experiencing. 

Due to this, they designed and shared a survey with their members to find out exactly what was happening and how VMIAC could support them during this time. The survey ran for three weeks and included eighteen questions, including demographics, mental health experience pre and post COVID, helpful coping mechanisms and how VMIAC and other organisations can support consumers during this time. 

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‘Poor moral leadership’ led to war crimes

Good morning, early birds. A senior officer in charge of Australia’s special forces has reportedly admitted that some elite soldiers committed war crimes in Afghanistan, and the federal government will potentially need to inject another $70-90 billion over the next six months to survive the post-COVID economic shock. It’s the news you need to know, with Chris Woods.

(Image: AAP/POOL/Paul Miller)


According to The Sydney Morning Herald, a senior army officer in charge of Australia’s special forces has admitted some elite soldiers committed war crimes in Afghanistan, blaming their actions on “poor moral leadership” in a confidential March briefing to SAS troops.

In the first direct admission of this kind from military officials, Major General Adam Findlay also admitted that war crimes may have been covered up and that, while it may take special forces a decade to recover, the one silver lining of Justice Paul Brereton’s inquiry is that it demonstrates some soldiers have the courage to blow the whistle.

PS: As Israel’s cabinet finalises their plans to illegally annex up to a third of the already-illegally occupied West Bank, it’s worth highlighting that the Australian government last week stood alone with the Marshall Islands in rejecting UN resolutions that recognised Palestinian self-determination and condemned the annexation.


A new Grattan Institute report argues that the federal government will need to inject another $70-90 billion over the next six months, in order, as The New Daily reports, to survive the post-COVID economic shock and bring unemployment below 5% by mid-2022.

Incidentally, a poll of 22 leading economists by The Conversation suggests Scott Morrison’s vision of growing GDP “more than one percentage point above trend” through to 2025 — or 4% per year — is something of a mirage, with the panel’s annual forecast averaging just 2.4% over the next four years, falling below the long-term trend, and trailing off around 2023.

NEWSPOLL TO THE RESCUE: In better news for the government, the latest post-COVID Newspoll ($) has Morrison jumping two preferred-PM points to 58-26 to Anthony Albanese and the Coalition holding steady 51-49 over Labor. Leaked internal research ahead of Saturday’s Eden-Monaro byelection also reportedly ($) suggests a jump in the Nats’ vote from 6-to-11.5%, potentially putting the Libs in spitting distance.


Following comments from Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton that COVID-19 is in part being spread by asymptomatic people below the age of 40, The Age reports that the proportion of infected young adults has jumped from roughly a quarter of all cases in the first peak to about a third of the current caseload.

The news comes after Dan Andrews yesterday announced that returned travellers who refuse testing will have to spend more than three weeks in quarantine, but suggested the rejection rate of about 30% could, in part, be due to parents refusing to have their kids tested.

SOMYUREK WATCH: On the Andrews government’s other ongoing headache, The Age reports that Darebin mayor Susan Rennie and the Victorian Greens have accused disgraced former Local Government Minister Adem Somyurek of effectively rorting the council system with the March shift to single-member wards. For a throwback Monday, check out Somyurek’s “They Really Said That?” quote for evidence that doesn’t not support that allegation.


According to The New Daily, Scott Morrison and Social Services Minister Anne Ruston have threatened to pull the charity status of 25 “reprehensible” religious organisations named in the royal commission that, ahead of a Tuesday deadline, have not signed up to the national redress scheme.

Elsewhere, The Australian ($) reports that the Catholic Church is quietly closing Catholic Professional Standards Ltd — an agency set up in 2017 to enact 60 commission recommendations i.e. audit risks of sex abuse and enforce new child protection standards — and replace it with a new, potentially less-independent body.


Finally, in just the two latest White House controversies, CNN reports that Donald Trump has denied receiving an intelligence briefing claiming Russia tried to bribe Taliban fighters to kill US troops, and, separately, deleted a tweet thanking a supporter who, while arguing with anti-Trump protesters, could be heard chanting “white power”.

PS: As America’s second surge exceeds the 2.5 million mark and overwhelms their national health system, The New York Times reports that Vice-President Mike Pence has stuck with Trump’s largely made up claim that the expansion of testing infrastructure, not eased restrictions, is responsible for the spike in cases (and case ratios) throughout the South.


An editorial which aired during the Credlin program on Friday 26 June at 6pm AEST, incorrectly linked Melbourne’s South Sudanese community to a COVID-19 outbreak.

Peta Credlin and Sky News Australia accept these comments were inaccurate and sincerely apologise for any offence caused by the remarks which have been removed from all platforms.

Sky News

The far-right broadcaster is very sorry if you’re offended by allegations that their favourite, “poorly assimilated” community spread COVID-19 at an “end-of-Ramadan feast” — not because it’s vile, racist dog-whistling, of course, just that Credlin got caught not checking her facts.

How cultural blindspots and a lack of diversity undermined pandemic response

“But the roots of this current spike, which has hit large migrant and refugee families, could lie in the cultural blind spots that have hindered our pandemic response from the very start.

“Primarily white health experts, politicians and bureaucrats consistently failed to speak to culturally and linguistically diverse communities in a sensitive and appropriate way.

“And Victorians are now paying the price.”


Aboriginal boy Lebron Martin, 4, who died in care should not have been taken away by Territory Families, NT Coroner finds ($)

Dyson Heydon sexual harassment allegations to be investigated by attorney general

Insurers pull back from Myer and David Jones over liquidity concerns

Hundreds of protesters march on Brisbane hotel for second time demanding asylum seekers’ release

Nursing Professional Association of Queensland tests “union monopoly’’ across the state ($)

Virus delivers multibillion-dollar resource export blow, but iron ore surges

Australian regional media to gain funding after ‘catastrophic’ ad revenue fall

Coronavirus has accelerated Lebanon’s economic collapse, and foreign maids are paying the price

Rolling Stones threaten to sue US President Donald Trump over using their songs at rallies


Covering black deaths in Australia led me to a breakdown, but that’s the position this country puts Aboriginal journalists inAllan Clarke (ABC): “Rarely are deaths in custody presented in context; rarely is our culture presented in context; rarely is our history presented in context. For Aboriginal journalists like me, when we begin our careers, we’re expected to take a saw and hack parts of our soul and our lived experiences until they fall away just to get a bloodied foot in the door.”

ABC’s leaders refuse to make real-world cuts ($) — Chris Mitchell (The Australian): “Last week’s Five-Year Plan 2020-2025 reads like high-level jargon cooked up between the ABC marketing department and a commercial market research company to try to fool the federal government into believing real change is under way. It’s replete with motherhood statements about serving audiences but not strong on actual cuts.

Government must spend more to support recoveryBrendan Coates and Danielle Wood (The Sydney Morning Herald): “Qantas laid off 6000 workers last week. Deloitte is cutting 700 jobs. Unless governments act, there’s going to be a lot more of this. Australian governments must urgently develop an economic transition plan for the next six to 12 months.”





  • The first public hearing for Tasmania’s parliamentary inquiry into the state government’s economic and health response to the COVID-19 pandemic will hear from Premier Peter Gutwein, Treasury Secretary Tony Ferrall and Chief of Staff Andrew Finch.


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What the pushback against Trump by Mattis and other military leaders can teach about leadership

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