July 2013

Newsletter No. 39

Annual General Meeting 2013 Oration by Prof Allan Fels 2013 History Corner 1545 Mental Health News


This year’s Annual General Meeting will be held on Wednesday 24th July at the Pacific Rim restaurant, 68 Bridport Street, Albert Park (corner of Ferrars Street).
The format reverts to our past practice of meeting at 6.30pm for a pre-dinner drink and ordering from the excellent a-la-carte menu, followed by a short business meeting at 7pm, then dinner at 7.30pm.
After dinner our speaker will be Associate Professor Sharon Goldfeld, whose topic is :

“Lost opportunities and hope: why child health and development inequity matters”

In Australia policy attention has shifted to the early years in recognition of the substantial evidence pointing to the human capital benefit of investing when children are very young. Despite this interest, Australia’s population statistics continue to show substantial inequities across a range of health and developmental outcomes. These emerge early in life and can be measured well into adulthood, with particularly adverse outcomes for some subpopulation groups. This unequal impact of social change on children’s health and development requires complex policy response strategies that concurrently consider the importance of targeted and universal promotion and prevention strategies, and those that have been demonstrated to be effective. The current environment for early childhood development offers particular opportunities to address outcomes for all young Australian children.
Clearly, we are in for a very thought-provoking evening. Although no bookings are required, it is desirable for the restaurant to be informed, so please RSVP to


Professor Allan Fels, Chairman of the newly established National Mental Health Commission, gave the 2013 Winston Rickards Memorial Oration at the Royal Children’s Hospital on Monday 13th May. The response was given by last year’s orator, The Hon Alastair Nicholson.

The Oration, titled simply “Child and Adolescent Mental Health”, began with a moving account of his own family’s encounter with mental health difficulties and moved on to discuss the challenges facing the National Mental Health Commission. What emerged from the Oration was a sense that at last there is a coherent overview of the complex field which will give meaningful direction to policy and to service development.

The full text of this exciting Oration can be downloaded from the National Mental Health Commission website and will shortly also be available on the MHYFVic website.


The MHYF Vic AGM hastens and we will be addressed by a paediatrician presenting the most recent research at the RCH on screening in infants. The earliest known publication on paediatrics in English is, probably, Thomas Phaire’s (1545). The Boke of Chyldren. With Chaucerian spelling, this gem of medical wisdom was first seen referenced in Howells and Osborn (1980/81). The book was reproduced in facsimile edition in 1955 and edited by A. V. Neale and Hugh R. E. Wallis (and published by E. & S. Livingston Ltd., Edinburgh and London; it is available online at

Wikipedia reports: The Boke of Chyldren anticipated many later trends in medicine. In recognising children as a special class of patients, his book was one of the first treatises to make a distinction between childhood and adulthood. He recognised various mental diseases, listing of the “manye grevous and perilous diseases” to which children were susceptible, including “apostume of the brayne” (meningitis), colic, “terrible dreames and feare in the slepe” (nightmares) and “pissing in the bedde” (bedwetting). He counselled against unnecessary treatments for childhood diseases such as smallpox or measles (“The best and most sure helpe in this case is not to meddle with anye kynde of medicines, but to let nature work her operacion”). He also condemned the tendency of medical practitioners to obscure their meaning by using Latin, and the consequent confusion for the patient: “How long would they haue the people ignorant? Why grutche they phsyicke to come forth in Engliyshe? Woulde they haue no man to know but onely they?”

( accessed 23 May, 2013).

The Neale and Wallis facsimile edition begins with some background on the author who was something of a polymath, have written on law, a major medical treatise called The regiment of life (1544) of which The boke of children was an addendum. He later translated the Aeneid from Latin into contemporary English (note his dislike of the use of Latin by Medical practitioners, above). He makes several references to treatments documented by Greek and Roman physicians, but not to Aristotle, who was one of the first documenters of many health practices.

The final entry is on the treatment of lice:

An Expert entry to drive away Lyce

Take the groudes or dregges of oyle or in lack of it, freshe swines greace, a sufficient quatitie, wherin ye shall chase an ouce of quicksiluer til it be al soke into the greace, tha take a pouder of stanisacre serced, and mingle all together, make a grydyll of a wollen list meete for the middle of the paciet, & al to annonyt it ouer with the said medicine, than let him weare it continually next his skinne, for it is a singuler remedy to chase away the vermyn. The only odour of quickesilver killeth lyce.
These shalbe sufficient to declare at this tyme of this litle treatise on the cure of children, which if I may know to be thankefully receyued, I will be in Gods grace, supplie more hereafter: neyther desyre I any longer to lyue, than I will employ my studyes for the honour of God, and profit of the weale publike.

Thus endeth the boke of chyldren, composed by Thomas Phayer, studiouse in Philosophie & Phisicke.

I wonder if our AGM speaker, Dr Sharon Goldfeld, will have advanced our knowledge, a little?

Jo Grimwade

Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing: Exploring Competencies for the Early Childhood Education and Care Workforce

Prepared by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health and Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council, this report explored the question of what knowledge and skills can educators integrate into their practice, to most effectively support children’s mental health and wellbeing? This project, an initiative of the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, explored this issue by drawing on research, policy, expert opinion and consultation. Other objectives for this project were to examine the inclusion of mental health related material in current training and professional development and to identify opportunities to enhance workforce capacity. One item for specific consideration was the potential development of a national set of competencies or professional practices for the early childhood workforce, relating specifically to children’s mental health and wellbeing. This report has generated a series of recommendations for consideration by the Australian Government, including promoting mental health literacy in the early childhood education and care sector; enhancing mental health content in early childhood vocational education and training and to enhancing mental health content in early childhood teacher education programs.
To download the report, go to

Commission welcomes inaugural Children’s Commissioner

Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the appointment of Megan Mitchell as Australia’s first Children’s Commissioner in Canberra on February 25. The President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs, said this announcement was a significant step in protecting children in Australia. “The rights of children are a central part of all the areas of work undertaken by the Australian Human Rights Commission and appointment of Australia’s first dedicated national Children’s Commissioner, who can focus solely on the protection of the rights of children, is extremely important,” President Triggs said. President Triggs said Ms Mitchell had extensive experience in issues facing children and young people and held qualifications in social policy, psychology and education. “Megan has worked with children from all types of backgrounds, including significant work with vulnerable children,” Professor Triggs said. “She has practical expertise in child protection, foster and kinship care, juvenile justice, children’s services, child care, disabilities, early intervention and prevention services.” Ms Mitchell’s previous roles include NSW Commissioner for Children and Young People, Executive Director of the ACT Office for Children, Youth and Family Support, Executive Director Out-of-Home Care in the NSW Department of Community Services, CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service and Director, Strategic Policy and Planning in the NSW Ageing and Disability Department.

Research priorities in mental health

A recent article in the ANZ Journal of Psychiatry investigated whether the research funding targeting health services or prevention or promotion has been prioritized, or whether funding priorities in general have shifted over the last decade.
The finding was that the proportion of research funding for affective disorders, dementia and psychosis has increased, but not for anxiety disorders or suicide. Funding for childhood disorders has decreased. Funding for prevention and promotion is low and decreasing. With respect to research publications, substance abuse was associated with the most publications, followed by affective disorders, anxiety disorders and psychosis. When publications and funding are compared to stake-holder priorities and the burden of disease, the areas of suicide and self-harm, personality disorders, anxiety disorders, childhood conditions and dementia are all insufficiently funded.
Despite mental health policy reforms through the last decade, there has been little change in the focus of research funding or publication output. There is modest evidence for a shift in support towards affective disorders as a major focus for research. However, the remaining gaps were very similar to those identified ten years earlier showing that suicide, personality disorders and anxiety disorders are under-researched.


AICAFMHA is pleased to announce that Bradley Morgan has been newly appointed to the role of COPMI Director, following two years in the role of Workforce Development Officer. Bradley brings to the role a strong background in rural health, including early childhood development, mental health and occupational therapy, and is excited about taking up the new challenge.

In other COPMI news, its new e-learning course for supervisors is now available online. The ‘Child Aware Supervision’ online training course has been designed specifically for supervisors and managers of front-line staff in the health and social services areas, to help them provide child and family-sensitive supervision strategies. The course was developed in partnership with the Australian Centre for Child Protection and the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA), with funds from the Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA). The training is free and features engaging video demonstrations showing practical application.

Using technologies safely and effectively to promote young people’s wellbeing: A Better Practice Guide for Services

The Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre’s new Better Practice Guide provides an evidence base to help health professionals and youth organisations to use technologies to engage with young people in promoting their mental health and wellbeing. In a project led by the NSW Centre for the Advancement of Adolescent Health and supported by the University of Sydney’s Prometheus Research Group, the Better Practice Guide is an invaluable resource for health service providers to extend their work into online settings where young people feel comfortable. The guide recognises that websites, social networking, text messaging and apps are tools that young people use to connect with information and each other on a daily basis, and identifies effective models and approaches for engaging young people in service design and delivery. A meta-review of Australian and international literature complemented by case studies demonstrating innovative practice, the guide is the outcome of a comprehensive process of consultation with young people and service providers.

What is an Evidence-Based Practice?

Facing a growing emphasis on accountability for achieving results in the area of children and family services, decision makers such as funders and service providers, are increasingly making programmatic choices based on the best research evidence. But what is the best available research evidence? And how can decision makers without research training make sense of that evidence? This brief is intended to help Promising Practices Network (PPN) visitors understand some of the variation in how the field of child and family services defines “best available research evidence.” The authors describe the history of evidence-based practices (EBPs) and review varying definitions of EBPs, comparing the PPN criteria with those from other organizations. To view this brief, go to asp

Targeted family interventions for families where a parent has a mental illness: Early intervention benefits to children

The latest GEMS – “Targeted family interventions for families where a parent has a mental illness: Early intervention benefits to children” is now available on the COPMI website at

This GEMS outlines evidence showing that family-focused, targeted prevention interventions are effective. The interventions highlighted here are different from those that focus on adult family members of adult consumers; instead this GEMS reviews programs for families where the adult consumers are parents, alongside their partners and their children. Two programs “Family Talk” and “Let’s Talk about Children,” that will soon be available to Australian families, are also reviewed.

Unaccompanied Humanitarian Minors in Australia: An overview of national support arrangements and key emerging issues

The Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network has recently developed a policy paper on Unaccompanied Humanitarian Minors (UHMs), providing a national overview of support arrangements and key emerging issues from the sector. UHMs are a particularly vulnerable group of young people, with diverse and complex needs. Given the absence of a nationally consistent approach to the care and support of this group of young people, and the increased numbers of UHMs arriving through Australia’s on-shore protection system, the paper is designed to address an identified gap in clear information about the type of care and support available to UHMs in each state and territory, and highlight gaps and challenges in the provision of adequate care and support. The paper was developed in collaboration with MYAN partners, as well as the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). To download a copy of the paper, go to

Cultural Diversity and Child Protection: A review of the Australian research on the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) and refugee

The aim of this paper is to review the available Australian research on the interface between Child Protection System (CPS) and families from CALD and refugee backgrounds; to identify gaps within research knowledge and propose future research priorities; and to develop recommendations for ways in which practitioners and policymakers can begin to address the current gaps in service delivery, data collection, policy and practice guidelines. The Report includes research on cultural diversity in CALD and refugee communities; risk factors for child abuse and neglect in CALD and refugee families; communication and language considerations ; child protection assessment frameworks; key messages from the Australian research on CALD and refugee families in CPS; presentation of CALD and refugee communities in CPS and their experiences; and a scoping Study on CALD and refugee children and young people in OOHC ( Out of Home Care) in Victoria. To download the report, go to

Talking Anxiety App

SANE Australia, has now launched an app- available from the Apple App Store – to help people to manage their anxiety. The Talking Anxiety App helps people to learn how to manage anxiety from people who’ve “been there'” and discovered techniques that really work and complement medical therapy. The Talking Anxiety app for the iPad and iPhone brings you the video stories of eight people living with an anxiety disorder. Four modules, ‘Understanding Anxiety’, ‘What Helps’, ‘How to Help Yourself’ and ‘How Family and Friends Can Help’ help you understand anxiety and how it can be successfully managed. In addition to video of people explaining the tips that worked for them there are quizzes to test your own progress, and an optional Daily Tip sent to your iPad or iPhone. This app is intended to provide information and support to people affected by anxiety disorders and those who care for them. It does not provide specific advice, which should be sought from a doctor or other suitably-qualified professional. For more information, go to

2013 MHYF Vic Committee

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