February 2011

Newsletter No. 28

Winston Rickards Memorial Oration Meeting with the Department Indigenous family mental health HISTORY CORNER: 1787 and 1986 Programs for disruptive children Membership Subscriptions MHYF Vic Committee

The second Winston Rickards Memorial Oration will be held in the Ella Latham Theatre at the Royal Childrens Hospital on Wednesday 30 March 2011 at 7.15 pm.
The speaker this year will be Emeritus Professor Dorothy Scott OAM. Professor Scott held the Foundation Chair of Child Protection at the Australian Centre for Child Protection at the University of South Australia.
In her Oration, Professor Scott will draw upon a broad range of research and observations to explore how child wellbeing may be influenced by the social construction of children as clients, consumers or contributors, and what the practice and policy implications of this might be for children, families and communities.
The annual Oration is given in honour of the wide-ranging and innovative contribution of Dr Winston Rickards AM (1920-2007) to infant, child, adolescent and family mental health in Australia and internationally.
Admission to the event is free of charge, but for catering and hospital security purposes it is requested that before 21st March you notify Dr Jacinta Bleeser of your intention to attend by phoning 03 8552 0555 or by email to

Meeting with the Department
Late last year MHYFVic representatives met with Dr Karleen Edwards, Director of the Mental Health and Drugs Branch of the Health Department and a couple of her senior staff members of the Child and Adolescent Mental health Section.
Dr Edwards had taken charge of the Branch since our last meeting with the staff members and it was our first opportunity to express our keen-ness to discuss the many developments taking place in the policy field and in the delivery of mental health services to the community. We had contributed actively to the consultations on “Because Mental Health Matters” at the workshops during the previous year and wished to continue dialogue about the actualities of implementing their farsighted philosophy.
The “caretaker mode” prompted by the impending State elections precluded much discussion of policy issues and there was also a tendency gloss over some of the difficulties in implementing change. This may well have been to avoid any comments that could have attracted adverse publicity during the election campaign, notwithstanding MHYFVic preference for constructive dialogue over media-based disputation. We are hoping to resume our discussions with departmental staff now that the election fever is over.

Indigenous family mental health
A new project group has been meeting to develop an advocacy program relating to provision of mental health services to Aboriginal families. The central aim is for indigenous people, themselves, to identify the issues of greatest importance for improving the mental health of their community, and ways in which this can be achieved. The role of MHYFVic is to assist this to happen.
Successful achievement of this goal would be demonstrated by indigenous workers holding a symposium on indigenous mental health at a future congress of the International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions.
The group would gladly welcome input from interested people – please contact the chairperson, Dr Suzie Dean, on

Jane Addams was credited by Luepnitz (1988) to be the first family therapist and to have started the modern profession of social work. Addams was concerned by the numbers of women with families left bereft following the carnage that was the American Civil War and the subsequent migration from the South, as well as
arrivals from Europe. Addams applied in Chicago some methods that she had witnessed at Toynbee Hall in London (Addams, 1911). Cantarow (1982) wrote:
[W]hen Jane Addams launched the settlement house movement and established Hull House in Chicago, she did so in part because of ‘piteous failures’ in her attempts to become ‘self-dependent’. She yearned for an activity in which she could feel socially useful. The movement she initiated was a kind of early social work movement that set up houses offering vocational training, child care, cooking and sewing classes, room and board for women in working class neighborhoods.
At worst the middle-class women who worked in movements to aid the working class and poor could be meddling intruders. At best, they gained the respect of the people they met, and they united with them in other efforts. For example, the settlement movement fought battles for child labor laws, for limitations on working hours for women, for industrial health and safety, for the recognition of labor unions. (Cantarow, 1982; p. xxvii).
Addams, J. (1911). Twenty years at Hull
House. New York: Macmillan.
Cantarow, E. (1980). Moving the mountain: Women working for social change. New York: Feminist Press.
Luepnitz, D. (1988). The family interpreted: Feminist theory in clinical practice. New York: Basic Books.

Programs for Disruptive Children
Members who attended our Annual General Meeting in 2008 will remember the very engaging presentation by Suzanne Lim on the “KKPP” early intervention program for children in some primary schools in the Eastern Metropolitan Region. The program was presented to children identified by their schools as showing disruptive behaviours and provided structured play group experiences coupled with teacher consultation and parent guidance regarding child behaviour management.
The primary goal of the program was promotion of pro-social behaviour patterns that reduced the likelihood of the disruptive behaviour continuing and deteriorating into ongoing conduct disorder.
Similar programs were undertaken in several school clusters around the State and the current issue of Australasian Psychiatry has published a paper on the outcomes of 235 children at such a program in the Ballarat region. The study indicated significant improvement in ratings of behaviour by parents and teachers, and marked improvement in peer relationships.
Further studies are needed with matched control groups and longer term follow-up, but the findings are important because of the serious impact that conduct disorders have on the lifetime outcomes for young people. Interventions that can prevent the deterioration of disruptive behaviours into established serious behaviour disorders will repay their costs many times over. MHYFVic strongly advocates the continuation of such programs and the associated research, and their wider availability throughout the school system.

Membership renewal
Subscriptions run for the financial year and should be paid before our Annual General meeting early in the new ‘year’. The fee remains at $20 and applies to organizations as well as individuals.

MHYF Vic Committee
* President, Jo Grimwade
* Vice-President, Jenny Luntz
* Past President: Allan Mawdsley
* Secretary, Nitha Prakash
* Treasurer & Membership Secretary, Lillian Tribe
* Projects Coordinator, Suzie Dean
* WebMaster, Ron Ingram
* Newsletter Editor, Allan Mawdsley
* Youth Consumer Representative, vacant * Members without portfolio: Miriam Tisher, Sarina Smale

The MHYF Vic Newsletter is for all people involved in advocating for service for young people and their families such that the worst consequences of illness and disadvantage are avoided. We want our Newsletter to fall into the hands of school teachers and anyone who has an interest in promoting positive mental health and improvement in services.


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