February 2012

Newsletter No. 31

President’s Report Talking with Young Offenders History Corner Hope for Bright Futures Get ready for the City of Lights A momentous reunion MHYF Vic Committee

Dear Friends & Colleagues of MHYF Vic,
Pleased to be have you all here and pleased to report on my first year of Presidency of this organization.
This year’s highlights are mostly individual ones.
Allan has produced two books, both histories, one of St John’s Ambulance, the other of the Creswick Foundation
Suzie was elevated to a Vice-Presidency of IACAPAP and presented at the recent European C&A MH conference in Sweden.
Sarina was married.
I started a new job at Cairnmillar.
Ron has continued to run his workshops on working dynamically with parents.
Miriam and I presented at the Family Therapy conference on Mental Health Advocacy.
Nitha has finished her studies.
Jenny has been to the edge of oblivion and has returned to the fray; we congratulate her and her family

But there has been fewer tangible things achieved as an organization.
Most important was the Winston Rickards Memorial Oration in March which was gratifying as an event, but made more satisfying as we can see an ongoing future for this event. The invited Orator, Dr Dorothy Scott, surprised us with her take on family life, while she impressed with her scholarship, her energy, and her vision. This invitation owes much to Jenny Luntz.

Another tangible event was the meeting with the Mental Health Branch (not the correct title) in the week before the Victorian election. This meeting had come from last year’s address by Sandra Radovini. While the meeting was informative, the caretaker mode meant nothing firm could be drawn and things have changed quite a bit since then!
Some project groups have been quite active: especially the group on stigma (chaired by Allan) and the one on indigenous youth mental health (chaired by Suzie).

On the wider scale, major statements have been made by AICAFMHA and the College of Child Psychiatry on needs of children and families for mental heath services. These are so widespread that a coalition of groups, including MHYF Vic, is in the process of forming to further the cause of advocacy for such services.
Hopefully, you would have seen some of our activity in our Newsletters, which this year have been under the Editorship of Allan Mawdsley. I hope the history segments remain of interest.

Between the meetings and behind the scenes subtle changes have been occurring. We are wanting to move from Policy to actual events and advocacy; that is, putting Policy into action. Secondly, we have wanted to make our project work more widely known than just through the website. Tonight’s speaker is an example of this: young enquiring minds doing interesting things with marginalized populations of youth with mental health needs.

For myself, I have found the role of President daunting. At the Family Therapy conference we could lead discussion of carer and consumer concerns, but the emphasis moved from youth to adults too easily, and from purposeful advocacy to desperate stories. We could have sponsored another such discussion this year, but we need to re-think what such presentations can achieve if the audience only wants to recount sad tales.
This is the challenge: how to undertake advocacy that only underlines the lack of compassion and the lack of services.
Looking forward, we have requested another meeting with the Mental Health branch. The WRMO is being planned. More work will go into the website. Our budget is sound. We would like to recruit new people to the Committee.
We would appreciate some input from consumers, professionals, and other MHYF Vic colleagues to guide action into 2012.
Finally, I would like to thank Allan for hosting our monthly meetings just down the road, and for arranging this venue once more. Thanks to Hot Honey and their staff.
As Winter is fading into Spring, hopes for a more successful year abound. We hope to deliver.
Assoc Prof Jo Grimwade
Director, Clinical Services, Cairnmillar.

Talking with Young Offenders – The importance of speech, language and communication development in promoting mental health”
Laura Caire gave a thought-provoking presentation at the MHYFVic Annual General Meeting on this important subject. Starting with the proposition that social and emotional development is closely connected to speech, language and communication development, she discussed the consequences impairment, the relationship between communication disorders and mental health, the role of mental health speech pathologists and what you can do to support young people with mental health issues who may have speech, language and communication difficulties. Whilst this applies to the whole community it has especial relevance to young people in the Juvenile Justice system. Laura gave compelling evidence of the need for speech pathologists’ input to improve the outcomes for this troubled group.

History Corner 1961
While Melbourne’s Cairnmillar Institute celebrates 50 years of community service in the provision of psychotherapy, a New York service also celebrates a half century this year.

Nathan Ackerman founded the Ackerman Institute for the Family in Upper East side New York in a fine five-storey late nineteenth century terrace house in 1961. The Ackerman is still there and still providing services to families. The birthday will be celebrated in late October with an international conference.
development, she characteristics and of communication

The Ackerman has a curious history in that it was founded by a practicing psychoanalyst and group analyst, who was simultaneously a teacher at the psychoanalytic institute and the founding Director of the Family Institute. Ackerman’s contribution to the history of Family Therapy is often underestimated as he was a pioneer who kept alive his psychoanalytic roots in an American movement that sought to eschew such connections.
However, the history of the Ackerman was of such eschewal. By the 1970s the Institute was actively anti-psychoanalytic, but like much of the Family Therapy Movement there has been a successful renaissance of psychodynamic thought in recent decades, especially through the work of Olga Silverstein and Virginia Goldner.

Many Ackerman practitioners have visited Australia. The most famous of whom, perhaps, was Don Bloch, the second Director of the Family Institute and editor of Family Process after Jay Haley.

This column likes to remind its readers of the rich vein of thought provided over many years by lone practitioners and small clinics, as they developed the ideas that shape contemporary practice in child and adolescent mental health.

The idea that comes most clearly from Ackerman is that of the recognition of the role of the actual grandparents in forming the family culture of the third generation. The idea was directly picked up by Murray Bowen, but is also an important aspect of the work of Jacques Lacan. We are wise to recognize that Nathan Ackerman is a grandparent to all practices!


The struggles of the European Union to foster stability and wellbeing among its
widely diverse communities are reflected in issues confronting child and adolescent mental health in that part of the world. While spanning the range of important scientific aspects of mental health, including child development and treatments of all kinds, the 14th Congress of ESCAP engendered hope by featuring a big focus on the needs of the young and their families in society in general. A small band of Australian delegates shared in the rich program. One highlight for me was discussion of expanding multiculturalism in Europe, especially discussion of the challenges brought by escalating refugee migrations to Europe from Africa and the Near East, often across the water; all of the issues familiar to us in Australia are urgent for Europe too. Another highlight was the mental health services response to the school shootings experienced in Finland in the recent past – and the psychological thinking and resources now poised in that country to deal with community disaster and trauma. Again, parallels with our own experience.
Dr Suzie Dean


When Melbourne held the World Congress of IACAPAP in 2006, a group of French delegates felt themselves to be in a “wonderful dream”. They were inspired to offer Paris to host a Congress for a third time, as soon as possible. This Congress will happen 21 – 25 July next year. Its theme will be “Brain, Mind and Development”, which draws attention to long-awaited advances in understanding the developing nervous system. However, the Congress will embrace each and every dimension of infant, child, adolescent and family mental health. The participation of every person concerned the young and their families will be welcomed. IACAPAP is the peak world organization for our field, and seeks to further the rights and best interests of the young however and wherever it can. Sharing of experience is essential to its aims. We are hoping for strong Australian representation at the Congress, with plenty of papers and Symposia. It is such a good chance to voice our concerns – scientific, clinical and social – and to exchange ideas across cultures! MHYF VIC is organizing to offer a couple of Symposia, aiming to bring to the fore the apparently trail- blazing Australian work in consumer/carer – professional collaboration in clinical and advocacy settings. Symposia are to be submitted by September 30, but individual papers not until January 15 2012. So you have time to get prepared!
Visit the Congress Website for all information….just google IACAPAP Paris 2012
Contact Dr Suzie Dean with any further enquiries


As you probably know, RCH, Parkville Campus, will shortly move to a new building adjacent to the present site. This includes all aspects of the Mental Health Service and Departments relevant to that service.
To mark this stupendous change – Moving Out… Moving On – current mental health staff will host a Reunion of all people who have worked, at any stage since 1955, in the Department of Psychiatry, renamed the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, renamed the Mental Health Service, or in associated Departments.
Save the date……..Friday 9th December, in the evening – at University House, The University of Melbourne.
Please register your interest in attending by October 24th : simply email

MHYF Vic Committee

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


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