October 2008

Newsletter No. 17


This issue of the MHYFVic Newsletter has several important items for you.

The first is that our Annual General Meeting will be held on Wednesday 22nd October.
The second is a report on the MHYFVic involvement in the recent IACAPAP Conference in Istanbul.
The third is about the continuing work of MHYFVic in advocacy for improvements in mental health services through the Victorian Government forum on “Because Mental Health Matters” and through the Commonwealth Government draft of the 2008 National Mental Health Policy.
Finally, membership renewals are now due, and it hardly needs pointing out that we need a strong membership base for our advocacy to have maximum impact.

The MHYFVic Annual General Meeting will be held on Wednesday 22nd October 2008 at Chin Chin at Koto Moon Restaurant, 647 Rathdowne Street, North Carlton from 7.00pm. The meeting will have a brief business component in which the present office-bearers will tell you about what has happened over the last year, and new office-bearers will be elected. This will be followed by dinner and then the after-dinner speaker.
The restaurant is “contemporary Asian” with Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Malaysian and other influences contributing to an excellent cuisine which is very modestly priced. It is licensed and BYO. The after dinner speaker is Dr Sophie Havighurst of ‘Mindful’ : Centre for Training and Research in Developmental Health, Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne. Her topic is “Tuning in to Kids”. The ability to understand emotions, use them appropriately in relationships, and regulate their intensity and expression are key skills children need to learn in the early years and equip them well for life. Parents play a central role in facilitating the development of these skills in children, with the parent-child relationship being central to this process. Yet most efforts to systematically improve parenting or the parent-child relationship focus on parent discipline styles and behaviour management rather than on the nature and quality of the emotional communication and connection between parent and child. Tuning in to Kids is an innovative approach that aims to help parents tune in to their children’s emotional experience and teach them about feelings and their expression. This presentation will provide an overview of this evidence-based program, covering the theoretical basis, content of the intervention, and some of the research outcomes.
This is not a boring old AGM but a stimulating evening’s discourse on topics of real importance to mental health. Fine food and fellowship make this an occasion not to be missed. Bring your companions and friends, whether or not they are members of MHYFVic. However, it is important for us to accurately inform the restaurant of how many people are coming, so please RSVP to Jenny Luntz on 9387 4662 or

Entitled “Carrying Hope Between East and West for 3 Cs: Children, Cultures, Commitments”, the 18th World Congress of the International Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions (IACAPAP), held in Istanbul May 30- June 3 this year, drew together some 2000 delegates from around the world. The Congress was organised in record time (only eighteen months in effect), and followed the great success of the 17th Congress in Melbourne in a splendid way. The experience of the Congress was very stimulating and rewarding, shared by at least 30 Australian delegates, probably the largest Australian contingent to IACAPAP overseas ever, most of whom were involved in making presentations (and over 40 authors appeared in the Program).
IACAPAP is made up of Member Organisations from 45 countries. Australia is represented by the The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) – Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and by the Australian Infant, Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health Association (AICAFMHA). AICAFMHA has the distinction of being the only member world-wide to represent consumers and carers as well as professionals.
In the extraordinary cosmopolitan, colourful and sometimes stressful surroundings of Istanbul, colleagues from
every continent spoke passionately about their work with children, adolescents, families and communities – across every conceivable context, dealing with all human difficulties imaginable. Highlighted were problems of trauma, poverty and violence, of displacement, immigration and cultural difference, of health and mental health vulnerabilities of all kinds, and of natural and human-made disasters….as were responses in terms of assessment and treatment innovations, community and societal interventions, preventative programs, and theoretical advances and cutting-edge research. Energetic discussions arose throughout the Congress, both within and outside formal sessions, bringing to light new challenges and inspiring new ideas, further thought and optimism in child and adolescent mental health. Some special attention was given to developing countries and areas in which services are yet non-existent. Overall, how to nurture hope around the world was certainly the major thread running through the Congress.
As at the 17th Congress in Melbourne in 2006, Australia again led the way in involving consumers and carers in the Congress. Carer Representatives Lynne Ruggiero, Rosemary Lawton and Anne Casey, from Victorian CAMHS, together with the Director of Austin CAMHS Neil Coventry, conducted a very exciting, dynamic and enjoyable Workshop which explored carer perspectives in service delivery. Much interaction and useful information was sparked in this enlivened gathering.
MHYF Vic presented a Symposium entitled “Building hope together: Professionals, consumers and carers collaborate to advocate for child, adolescent and family mental health in the community”. In this session, Paul Tribe described his experience in leading a group of young people to advocate for better services, Suzanne Robson addressed the contribution of carers and parents, and Suzie Dean gave an overview of how MHYF Vic is pursuing its advocacy activities. The Symposium also included a Turkish carer, Cigdem Erguvenc, who engaged the audience deeply in her story of being the mother of a child diagnosed with autism. This Symposium was made possible by the sponsorship of the Rotary Club of Collingwood in Victoria.
Outcomes of the Congress were numerous. For Australia, two stand out:

*Australia is invited to contribute on consumer/carer involvement to a IACAPAP think tank mapping out future directions for the organization, a think tank to be broad-ranging and to be chaired by Sir Michael Rutter.

* A IACAPAP Study Group on the needs of indigenous children and adolescents has been approved, to be coordinated by Suzie Dean (who is on the IACAPAP Executive Committee).
At a personal level for all delegates, the great potential value of this Congress was the mutual support gained from each other in facing and responding to the desperate and profoundly shocking situations of so many of the young we work with – child abuse in its multitude of forms, developmental problems, social disadvantage at all levels, disastrous environmental circumstances, and, everywhere, a lack of adequate funding for appropriate services and preventive measures.
From now on, IACAPAP will hold its World Congress every two years. The next will be in Beijing in 2010 – after that comes Paris, Capetown and Calgary. Let’s continue to work toward taking advantage of the chance to learn and participate in this exciting forum.


MHYF Vic thanks the Rotary Club of Collingwood for its full sponsorship of Suzanne Robson and Paul Tribe to attend the Congress.

In the last couple of months MHYFVic has been a participant in a community consultative workshop organized by the Victorian Government Department of Human Services and has subsequently made a written submission to the Department’s discussion paper entitled “Because Mental Health Matters”.
Members who wish to read the MHYFVic response can obtain a copy from the Secretary.
A discussion draft has been released of the Commonwealth Government’s 2008 National Mental Health Policy. MHYFVic is liaising with AICAFMHA regarding input to the document. Again, members who wish to read the document can obtain a copy from the Secretary.

Don’t forget to renew your membership. The annual fee is only $20, and every member counts when it comes to advocacy influence.


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