May 2013

Newsletter No. 38

Winston Rickards Memorial Oration #4 Mental Health Council of Australia consultation, 10 April IACAPAP South Pacific Study Group Grandparents Australia collaboration AICAFMHA Board HISTORY CORNER: 1912 MHYF Vic Committee Calendar of events

Winston Rickards Memorial Oration #4

We are proud to announce that our fourth Winston Rickards Memorial Orator will be Professor Allan Fels AO, current Chair of the National Mental Health Commission, Former Chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. His topic is “The national challenge of mental health and implications for children and adolescents, carers, and families”.

Annual General Meeting

Last year our AGM was delayed due to absences overseas associated with the IACAPAP conference in Paris. This year we will be earlier than usual with the date set for July, 2013. The presenter will be Dr Sharon Goldfeld of the RCH Centre for Community Child Health, who will be discussing the new Victorian practice guidelines for infants and pre-school age children.

Mental Health Council of Australia consultation, 10 April

MHYF Vic attended a national consultation meeting of the Mental Health Council of Australia on 10 April in Melbourne. Established in 1997, the Mental Health Council of Australia (MHCA) is the peak, national non-government organisation representing and promoting the interests of the Australian mental health sector, committed to achieving better mental health for all Australians.

MHCA Members include national organisations representing consumers, carers, special needs groups, clinical service providers, public and private mental health service providers, researchers and state/territory community mental health peak bodies.

The MHCA aims to promote mentally healthy communities, educate Australians on mental health issues, conduct research into mental health issues and reform Australia’s mental health system.
The MHCA meets on a yearly basis (at least) with stakeholders and members in each state. Attendees included representatives of several carer groups, RANZCGP, AASW, COTA, APS, PANDA, and homelessness services. The meeting was chaired by Mr Frank Quinlan, MHCA CEO.

Mr Quinlan began by outlining the purpose of the meeting as being generation of national indicators and targets for mental health. The process has begun to develop a 10 year Road Map for mental health following the publication of the parameters for a “Contributing life”: the national Mental Health Commission’s ReportCard on mental health and suicide prevention; see:

These parameters were given as:

1. Thriving, not just surviving
2. Connections with family, friends, culture and community
3. Ensuring effective support, care and treatment
4. Something meaningful to do, something to look forward to
5. Feeling safe, stable and secure
6. Preventing suicide

The consultation offered the prospect of operationalizing these principles, while at the same time, generating priorities for advocacy to government in this election year.

At various stages, the issues discussed were remote from the issues that were at the front of my mind. MHCA is an advocacy body for adult mental health and the various carer representatives were mostly focussed on family members who were diagnosed with schizophrenia. Children and adolescents were not on the agenda, neither was post-natal depression, although the CEO of PANDFA was present.

However, the need for urgent action to help families was a shared concern, as was the need for psychosocial recovery. By the end of the day, I had found a large number of new contacts and invited them all to WRMO #4.
At the Commonwealth level the key issues were Partners in Recovery and the National Disability Insurance Scheme. At the State level, the issue of the reform of Psychiatric Disability Residential Services was a major concern, especially as it seems that State objectives may conflict with national ones.

While the NDIS, soon to be renamed Disability Care Australia, would appear to offer greater support to disabled people, there is considerable concern that those in the psychosocial disability category may suffer resource cuts because definitions of such disability may be too restrictive, given the problems of definition in our field. Also, funding will move to service users who will make decisions about what services they want; it is not clear that consumers will make the most pertinent choices, which in turn, could affect service providers if they cannot supply the desired service. Organizations will be competing for resources and some quality services may by deprived of funds. In turn, workforce problems may arise with reduced opportunities for training.

The various lists of indicators and targets that were generated by small working groups cannot be reported here, but there was much activity in trying to find better ways to make the needs of people with mental health issues clear and measurable, and electorally attractive.

The consultation was well run and came away feeling that I had learnt a lot that may be applied to the advocacy goals of MHYF Vic.

Jo Grimwade

Membership renewal

We are all reminded that subscriptions are will be due for the year 31 August 2013 to Sept 2014. The fee remains at $20 and applies to organizations as well as individuals. You might to pay early when you attend the WRMO or the AGM!

Grandparents Australia collaboration

Miriam Tisher met recently with Ms Anne McLeish of Grandparents Australia to discuss areas of mutual concern. The chief concern is the role of grandparents in providing direct care to their grandchildren.
There are grounds for hope that Grandparents may be recognized in the Family Law Act. Grandparents Australia have secured a seat at the national Children’s Roundtable.
Grandparents Australia will attend the WRMO and would like to talk with anybody afterwards on matters of shared interest. Opportunities for collaboration in research and advocacy were discussed.


April, 1912, saw the establishment of the first government department in the world for children. The head of the Children’s Bureau was Julia Lathrop who was the first woman to head a US national agency. The bureau was instigated by President William Taft, but followed from the First Presidential Conference on Childhood in 1909, called by President Theodore Roosevelt. This conference, in turn, initiated through the collaboration of Adolf Meyer and William James with the founder of the National Committee for Mental Hygiene, Clifford Beers.

Curiously, perhaps, the Children’s Bureau was part of the Department of Labor; presumably, the primary role was to stop child labour.

The Children’s Bureau inspired the establishment of the Children’s Welfare League of America in 1920 and, subsequently, the Children’s Welfare Association of Australia. The Bureau existed from 192 to 1946, when it was enfolded with the mega department: Social Security Administration.

Australia’s first government department for children was established in South Australia in 1988, although this no longer exists.

MHYF Vic Committee

• President, Jo Grimwade
• Vice-President, Jenny Luntz
• Immediate Past President: Allan Mawdsley
• Secretary, Zoe Vinen
• 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

Calendar of events

13 May, 4th WRMO, RCH, Ella Latham Theatre (7:30pm)
24 July, MHYF Vic, AGM, Pacific Rim Restaurant (7pm)
7, 8 October, South Pacific IACAPAP Study Group, Melbourne
9-12 October, Annual Conference of the Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Melbourne


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 everyone who can help us in our advocacy and fight against stigma.


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