June 2009

Newsletter No. 19

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING Because mental health matters Child and Youth Discussion Session Community Participation Discussion Session

Discussion at a recent Committee meeting resolved that future issues of the MHYF Vic Newsletter should be smaller and more frequent than in the past. This issue has two important items for you.
The first is some information about our Annual General Meeting to be held on Wednesday 26th August 2009.
The second is a report by the MHYF Vic delegate on the DHS launch of the mental health policy directions document, “Because Mental Health Matters”.

The MHYF Vic Annual General Meeting will be held at 7.30pm on Wednesday 26th August 2009 at the Hot Honey Café, 40 Armstrong Street, Middle Park. This is close to the Richardson Street corner and has plenty of street parking.
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 the after-dinner speaker.
The menu (2 courses $35, 3 courses $45) :
• Soup of the day with crusty ciabatta toast
• Open Savoury tart with roasted pumpkin and tomato topped with fetta cheese and toasted pine nuts
• Two bean, corn and sweet potato enchilada
topped with cheese and served with a tomato
and avocado salsa and sour cream
• Morrocan lamb slow cooked with preserved
lemons and red capsicums, served with a herb
cous cous
• Chicken, mushroom and leek risotto topped
with shaved parmesan
• Beef ragout served on fresh pasta with a parsley gremolata
• Homemade fruit crumble served with custard
• Chocolate mud cake served with chocolate
espresso sauce and ice cream
• Toasted almond and honey ice-cream served with a Dutch almond cake
The after dinner speaker this year will be Ric Pawsey, Director of the ‘Take Two’ Program. His presentation is titled :
“The Take Two Service and the Innovation of Therapeutic Care for Children and Adolescents in Care”
At this presentation Ric will talk about some of the background of the Take Two intensive therapeutic service for child protection clients, reflect on some of its learnings following 51⁄2 years of operation, and speak of the recent innovation of therapeutic care, in which the child protection and care systems are experimenting with “adding a therapeutic approach” to out-of-home-care, in the hope of providing better quality services for the children and adolescents who find themselves in care. Ric will be pleased to take questions, and pleased to “workshop” the whole idea of “therapeutic care” for children and adolescents with those who attend this AGM presentation.
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 MHYF Vic. However, it is important for us to accurately inform the restaurant of how many people are coming, so please RSVP to Allan Mawdsley on 9645 5348 or

Because mental health matters:
Victorian Mental Health strategy 2009-19 Stakeholder Information Session, 20th April, 2009 Report by Suzanne Robson


In 2008 MHYFVic participated in a community consultative workshop organized by the Victorian Government Department of Human Services and also made a written submission to the department’s discussion paper Because Mental Health Matters. The consultation period began in mid-May 2008 and ran until mid –August. During this consultation period, approximately 1200 people attended at least one consultation event which included 9 public forums held across Victoria, 19 policy roundtables and 20 focus sessions held with a variety of professional bodies. Over 240 written submissions were received from a wide variety of stakeholders.
The final document Because Mental Health Matters –Victorian Mental Health Reform Strategy 2009-2019 was released in February 2009. The stakeholder information session was held in April to have further consultations regarding the implementation of the strategy and included all those who had made submissions.
The session consisted of an overview of the document and the new initiatives that had been implemented followed by a number of discussion sessions where participants could present feedback on specific areas. These included: community participation and children and young people.
Gill Callister, Director of Mental Health Branch, presented an overview of the document and stressed that it was important to remember that this was the beginning of the process of implementation of the strategy. There were obviously serious problems with the current mental health system, especially in areas of prevention and the provision of services to children and young people. The strategy was aimed at transforming delivery of mental health services to bring about significant change. She also pointed out the need for cultural change with new norms,
behaviours, systemic and historical attitudes.
She also described how this policy has a strong commitment to family inclusion and consumer-centred service provision as well as family and carer inclusion. She also wanted to reassure that the new strategies would not mean a reduction of funding from existing services.
The strategy implementation is to be handled by Mental health Reform Council Partnership Groups and Strategy Implementation plans and Action plans with DHS regions. Details and Updates to be available at the website:

Child and Youth Discussion Session:
Participants were reassured that families, consumers and carers are an essential part of the strategy. It is also recognized that there are serious problems with the current fragmentation of services. One of the issues was that many services have different definitions of youth and this obviously caused a large amount of confusion to those trying to access services. Participants expressed a desire for more support to child care/kindergartens, infant mental health and family support services. Many of the submissions had expressed concern that the focus would be on ages 12-25 however it was stressed that this was certainly not the case. There was also concern expressed by participants over the implementation of the strategy or as Neil Coventry pointed out, the document should have had another 200 pages to give more detail regarding this! Services had not been given any guidance regarding the implementation. All feedback was noted down and participants assured that they would be taken into consideration.
Community Participation Discussion Session:

Participants who were involved in finding employment for clients described some of the difficulties/frustrations. One of the panel who had written the policy expressed surprise that employment was far more complex that initially realized –she thought it was a simple case of job matching! Many participants also expressed the frustration of care co-ordination which
could include up to 3-4 different agencies and be very messy. Also expressed was the frustration of managing case loads. The public housing issues also took up a large part of the discussion as a major problem is that there simply isn’t enough housing for those who require it. Again, this feedback was noted.

Don’t forget to renew your membership. The annual fee is only $20, and every member counts when it comes to advocacy influence.
Newsletter Editor
This issue of the Newsletter was prepared by Allan Mawdsley. If any member is willing to join the Committee to take on the task of Editor, please contact me on


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