August 2007

Newsletter No. 14

MHYFVic Annual General Meeting 2007 Report on AICAFMHA for AGM 18th IACAPAP Congress, Istanbul, 2008 Professor George Sugai, Mental Health Strategy Dealing with mental illness – views of young people

MHYFVic Annual General Meeting
The MHYF Vic Annual General Meeting was held at Chin Chin’s at Koto Moon restaurant on Wednesday 29 August 2007. A small band of intrepid travellers from as far afield as Torquay in the south and Ringwood in the east gathered to take part in the business of the meeting and the excellent dinner that followed.
The picture shows a few of the participants. At the meeting the Office Bearers for the coming year were elected:
President: Allan Mawdsley
Past President: Winston Rickards
Secretary: Jacinta Bleeser
Treasurer: Suzanne Robson
Committee: Suzie Dean
Jennifer Luntz
Lillian Tribe
Paul Tribe
Ron Ingram
Newsletter Editor: Dianne Camilleri

The President’s Report is printed below.

After dinner there was a presentation by Suzanne Lim on the KKPP program, of which she is a team member and has been Acting Team Leader for part of this year. The photo shows Suzanne with our Secretary, Jacinta Bleeser, and Sam, a puppet used in the program to engage the children in discussion about thoughts and feelings related to their behavioural problems.
The program involves a group therapeutic process run by a clinician and teacher for selected children seen to be at risk of serious behavioural disturbance, combined with parent sessions and a school-based behaviour change approach. Research shows that the program is highly effective in reducing the extent and severity of behavioural disturbance. Given that such disturbance has an adverse long-term impact on the lifetime journey of these young people, the early intervention repays itself many times over.

MHYF Vic strongly supports the principle of such programs being available to all schools. At present there are only half a dozen teams throughout the State so the number of schools is still fairly limited. Improved availability of such programs is one of the issues that we will be discussing with the Mental Health Branch at future meetings.
We are grateful to Suzanne for contributing to our AGM, and to Eastern Health for agreeing to information about the program being posted on our website.

President’s Report

Last year’s Annual General Meeting highlighted the huge contribution made by MHYF Vic towards the successful IACAPAP Congress held in Melbourne in October 2006. In focusing on that Congress, the usual work of MHYF Vic was largely put on hold and there was not much progress towards the other goals outlined in our Strategic Plan. However, I am pleased to report that in the current year there have been some very important achievements towards our goals.

MHYF Vic is now poised to make a real contribution to the quality of mental health services for young people and their families in Victoria and I urge all members to take part in the discussion of these issues at this Annual General Meeting. The partnership between professionals and consumers and carers is recognised by authorities as a valuable source of input to their policy and program development. It will carry maximum weight if the wider membership is actively contributing to the discussion.

The most important achievement has been the establishment of MHYF Vic as one of the community agencies meeting regularly with the Mental Health Branch of the Department of Human Services to discuss issues in the provision of mental health services for children and adolescents. In the first half of 2007 we have had one special meeting with senior Departmental staff in the Office for Children and two regular meetings with senior staff in the Mental Health Branch.

The meeting at the Office for Children was hosted by the Executive Director, Gill Callister, and included Dr Ruth Vine (Head of Mental Health Branch), Anthony Rateman (proxy for Jeanette Nagorcka, Director of Early Years Services), Amanda Smith (Mental Health Branch) and Dr Sharon Goldfeld (Paediatric Consultant to Early Years Services). MHYF Vic representatives indicated strong support for the recent initiatives within Early Years Services which are clearly in line with our Principles and Policies document. Concern was expressed, however, at difficulties in the provision of adequate Tier Two mental health services, and in the specialist (Tier Three) support for Tier Two and Tier One services. The response was that the Department was conscious of those issues and had put in place responses that they were confident would improve the situation. However, they welcomed MHYF Vic feedback and would confer in regular ongoing meetings at Mental Health Branch. They also indicated a willingness to involve MHYF Vic in consultative processes on related initiatives.

Meetings at Mental Health Branch chaired by Bill MacDonald have had valuable discussions on changes being implemented within the Branch, particularly around the issues of treatment of substance misuse and services for young people whose parent suffered a mental illness. There were also discussions about improving access to services and improving links to other agencies. Studies are being undertaken of residential treatment facilities for young people and of collaboration with the education system. The Branch has provided MHYF Vic with several policy documents and invited our contribution towards policy development. We look forward to a rewarding collaboration.

The Committee has had seven meetings since the AGM in October last year, which have been quite busy in preparation for the lobbying tasks already mentioned. I would like to thank all the members of the Committee for their contributions.

Contact with consumer and carer organisations established by Chantal Aiello in the lead up to the IACAPAP Conference has continued although we do not yet have the formal linkages that we probably need to have for best effect.
Membership numbers need to be considerably increased if we are to have the degree of lobbying influence our work deserves. Now that we have established our connections with the Mental Health Branch to contribute our ideas, it is important that they remain convinced that what we are saying is valid and has the support of a substantial number of the public. We have not made a concerted recruitment drive until now, but I believe we are now in a position where this should be done. We can truthfully say we are undertaking important work which is worthy of support and which, if given that support, could achieve significant results.

Allan Mawdsley, MHYF Vic President

Report on AICAFMHA given at the MHYF Vic AGM on 29 August 2007

The AICAFMHA constitution requires that the Board meet a minimum of four times a year. Until last year meetings were scheduled monthly, but last year after the cancellation of several meetings only three had been held by the end of November. To rectify the situation a fourth one was held a few days before Christmas. It was thought that the reason for the cancellation was because meetings were being held too frequently. This year meetings have been held bi-monthly. So far one was cancelled because of problems with Telstra’s audio conference system and another didn’t have a quorum.

The 2006 Board AGM was open to the entire AICAFMHA membership. Allan Mawdsley was the only outsider to attend. This year the opportunity to attend will be available again. The provisional date for the AGM is the 29 October and if members are interested in attending let me know as you have to come to my house to attend.
Subscriptions are now due for the financial year 2007 – 2008. There is no change in the amount ($22-00 consumers / carers / young persons / students; $49-50 individual member and $99-00 organisation). New directors from the Northern Territory and Queensland are being sought. The death of former Board member from Tasmania, Patrick Fernando, was acknowledged earlier this month.
AICAFMHA’s email newsletter is circulated irregularly to all subscribers. It provides useful information about what is happening in Australia and around the world in the child and adolescent mental health and related fields.


1. The Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing signed a funding agreement for $3 million with AICAFMHA re children of parents suffering with a mental illness (COPMHI) in line with the COAG National Action Plan on Mental Health 2006-2011. The money will be used for the following projects:
(a) to provide information to parents, carers and children in two main areas, issues in early childhood and as those to do with schooling;
(b) to expand support and education of those working with the target group via a learning package;
(c) to do a clinical analysis of relevant research and evaluation models;
(d) to set up an office in the grounds of the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide and to employ more staff to carry out the extra tasks.
The draft National Mental Health Policy Document 2007 developed in the Prime Minister’s Office was sent to AICAFMHA for comments and circulated to Board members. Responses were collated by Phil Robinson. The main thrust of the comments was that the draft report failed to take account of the different problems faced by clinicians and families where the index patient is a child/adolescent. Concern was also expressed about the impact the new Medicare provisions are having on workforce numbers in public child and adolescent mental health. Qualified staff in the disciplines entitled to claim rebates are leaving and it is difficult to replace them. It is unclear when the final version of the document will be available.
Members of AICAFMHA are working on a proposal to identify pathways for care and recommended services for children and adolescents struggling with mental disorders in Australia. The Board members have seen a draft but it is not yet ready for distribution.
The accounts have not yet been audited but it is clear that ACAIFMHA is financially sound.

Jenny Luntz, MHYF Vic Committee Member

Upcoming Event

‘Working Creatively Together: Professionals and Consumers Forging New Pathways in Child & Adolescent Mental Health’ – see notice of this upcoming event at the end of this newsletter.

18TH World Congress of the International Association of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry & Allied Professions

This Congress is to be held in Istanbul from 30 April to 3 May 2008.
This great event follows the highly successful 17th Congress held in Melbourne in 2006. The theme is to be “Carrying Hope Between East and West for 3 C’s: Children, Cultures, Commitments” – and promises to bring people together in as exciting a way as before………….
Abstracts for presentations are due by November 15th – single presentations or Symposia are being sought from all around the world. For information concerning Abstract submission and many other matters, go to the Congress website –

Suzie Dean, MHYF Vic Committee Member

Professor George Sugai

The Royal Children’s Hospital Education Institute ran a conference at the Melbourne Convention Centre on Tuesday 18th September featuring a keynote presentation by Professor George Sugai from the University of Connecticut. The conference, titled “Beyond Behaviour Management: School-Wide Positive Behaviour Support” was attended by over four hundred teachers, psychologists and school administrators who deal with behaviourally disturbed young people.

The core concept was an application of the public health model wherein 85% of the school population are assisted by the appropriate universal program, and about 15% need additional assistance, 5% needing individually targeted programs. However, the special programs will only work if the universal program provides the context for the desirable outcomes.

There is no quick fix for disturbed behaviour. Professor Sugai described an approach that engaged the entire school community in providing a climate in which was respectful and supportive of people doing their best. The positive behavioural support gradually changes the behaviour of the disturbed young people but more importantly produces better outcomes for the whole student population. The key issues are engaging all of the staff at the outset, and ensuring that the changes are maintained after they have been achieved.

MHYF Vic strongly supports the implementation of such programs throughout the entire school system.

Allan Mawdsley, MHYF Vic President

Mental Health Strategy

The Mental Health Branch of the Department of Human Services hosted a gathering of a couple of hundred people at Telstra Dome on Wednesday 19th September 2007, called “A State-wide Cross-Sectoral Forum”. The gathering was attended by participants from a wide range of community agencies and mental health service providers. Carer’s network, ARAFEMI, Disability Support Services, Police, Ambulance Officers, training providers and other groups including MHYF Vic were included in the attendees.
The subject of the forum was the proposed mental health strategy for the coming few years. Six strategic directions were listed, with proposed outcomes for each. The forum was asked to consider the stated outcomes and to make suggestions for change.

Your President attended the forum on behalf of MHYF Vic. It is most encouraging that the Mental Health Branch makes itself open to such dialogue. It was also encouraging that the newly appointed Executive Director, Gill Callister, remained at the forum for the whole day, not just leaving it to minions to report back to her. The whole exercise did impress as a genuine attempt to elicit feedback, and MHYF Vic is delighted to contribute as meaningfully as possible.
We saw two major difficulties in the project. One was in the setting out of the objectives and the other was the difficulty in their use of the term ‘Mental Health’.

The objectives were ‘motherhood statements’ that were all desirable. For example, nobody would criticise the objective that “people with mental illness access timely, effective treatment and support that is appropriate and responsive to their needs”. The devil is in the unstated detail. What is “timely”, what is “effective”, what is “appropriate and responsive”? It would be churlish to expect that every detail of the Department’s work could be set out in measurable terms in a draft policy consultation document but the point does need to be made that the difference between aims and objectives is that aims can be stated in general outline whereas objectives are best phrased in terms of quantifiable targets. MHYF Vic would not disagree with the statements but could have some disagreement with how the Department is going about achieving (or not achieving) them.

The other conceptual difficulty was in the use of the term ‘Mental Health’. The first strategic direction correctly uses the concept in seeking that “individuals, families and communities are better able to maintain good mental health and wellbeing”. The remainder of the document uses ‘mental health services’ as a synonym for ‘mental illness services’. This inevitably focuses on the role of the Department in assisting the most seriously mentally-ill and very little on the role of primary health care and other services in helping lesser degrees of mental disorder and in promoting resiliency and actual mental health.
In addition to the contribution made at the forum, MHYF Vic hopes to pick up on some of these issues in future dialogue with the Branch.

Allan Mawdsley, MHYF Vic President

Dealing with mental illness – the views of young people

Mental disorders often have their first onset during youth, so that young people need to have knowledge to support appropriate decision making. This was the reason behind a survey, conducted by Professor Jorm and Annemarie Wright, reported in the August 2007 issue of the ANZ Journal of Psychiatry.

Interviews were carried out with 3746 young people and 2005 parents. They were given case histories of some typical mental disorders and asked questions about possible interventions.

There was broad agreement from young people and their parents about what interventions are likely to be helpful. These interventions were general and informal sources of help rather than specialist mental health services. The most negative views were about psychiatric medications and admission to hospital.

The authors suggest a need to improve knowledge of appropriate treatment options. The findings also suggest ways of describing interventions to make them more acceptable to youth.

Public education is needed to reduce fear of specialised treatment of mental disorders.

Allan Mawdsley, MHYF Vic President

Contributions to the MHYF Vic Newsletter

Don’t forget the variety of ways you can contribute to our newsletter:
Consumer Opinion can be submitted by email to
Media-Watch can be reported through
The Newsletter can be contacted by email on

Presented by members of:
• Mental Health for the Young and their Families Victoria: MHYF VIC
• APS College of Clinical Psychologists Victorian Section: Child, Adolescent and Family Representative Group
• RANZCP Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Victorian Branch
• Australian Association of Social Workers
• A range of Consumer/Carer Groups

Saturday 17th November 2007 : 9.15am – 1.00pm
Monash University Clinical Sciences Building at The Alfred Hospital
Alfred Lane, off Commercial Rd, Prahran (Melways Ref 2L C9)
PARKING: Public pay parking is available under “The Alfred Centre” building, accessible from Commercial Rd, close to Punt Rd. From there, walk along Commercial Rd to Alfred Lane, take first turn left to brick building labelled “Monash University Medical School”, which is the Clinical Sciences Building. Only limited parking may be available in carpark outside this building – drive to boom gate and press button in yellow box to be admitted. (NB construction works block entrance direct from Commercial Rd)
Challenges and needs are mounting in child and adolescent mental health, as social attitudes and funding priorities change. More than ever, many professionals, families and young people want to see changes in child and adolescent mental health services and prevention. If you feel this way, come to this workshop and discuss how we can work together to make an effective difference !
Professionals, parents and young people each have unique knowledge, expertise, and capacity to inform policy makers. Let’s explore address how we can listen more closely to each other, find common ground and act together creatively – not just in the in the clinical situation, but in thinking about how to improve agency services, and in lobbying for the young and for families in the wider community.
Organised by MHYF VIC, Victoria’s consumer-professional lobby group for child and adolescent mental health, this joint event follows on from the Workshop on Consumer and Carer Participation in CAMHS hosted in August by Austin CAMHS, and from discussions at the 17th World Congress of IACAPAP in Melbourne last year. The Workshop Panel will include Consumer and Carer representatives, and professionals from Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Social Work and Clinical Psychology. Continuing Professional Education or Development points will be credited for attending by relevant professions.
Panel: Allan Mawdsley (Chair), Jacinta Agostinello, Suzie Dean, Anne Casey, Paul Denborough, Georgina Oleakans, Lynne Ruggiero, Paul Tribe
• Workshop Fee: $60 for Professionals, $20 for University Students

$5 for Consumers and Carers (to cover morning tea costs)
• Enquiries: ring Marilyn Boots (ph: 8552 0555)

For more about MHYF VIC visit



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