Every year hundreds of children in Victoria are placed in out-of-home care because of protective concerns. Over recent years there has been a trend towards kinship care rather than fostering by unrelated families, and within kinship there has been an increasing proportion of grandparents undertaking the care.
Whilst this is generally desirable because of familial bonds and evidence showing that this is the best out of home option for children, the evidence also shows that grandparent health and welfare is significantly affected. The problems inherent in such placements have been the subject of a recent Senate Committee of Enquiry which has brought forward a number of carefully considered important recommendations.
MHYFVic strongly supports the wisdom of those recommendations and urges all Members of Parliament to support their implementation as soon as possible. This will greatly assist the recovery of children who are at risk of long-term damage to their whole life pathway.
The Executive Officer of Grandparents Victoria, Anne McLeish, will be the speaker at this year’s MHYFVic Annual General Meeting. She has been one of the key contributors to the Senate Enquiry as well as to the development of support packages for grandparents faced with the unenviable task of substitute parenting of their (often emotionally disturbed) grandchildren.
Annual General Meeting
The AGM will be held on Wednesday 26th August 2015 at Pacific Rim restaurant in Albert Park. Pacific Rim is a Thai restaurant in Bridport Street at the corner of Ferrars Street, Albert Park. It serves excellent food at very reasonable prices.
The meeting will begin with a short business component at 7.00pm, prior to which the dinner orders will be taken. Dinner will be served at about 7.45pm, after-which Anne McLeish will describe developments that have occurred over the last two decades in out-of- home care for children in need of care and protection.
Although the restaurant does not require pre- payment or pre-ordering of food, it does wish to know how many people will be attending. If you are intending to come, please let me know by an email to
PREVENTION OF MENTAL DISORDERS (Project 3)
Recent and forthcoming MHYFVic newsletters are featuring a series of articles on Prevention of Mental Health disorders. They are based on the concept of public health interventions at the universal services level. For children and families this means programs that :
Ensure adequate safety, housing, food and general health, welfare and educational services.
Promote social stability, family functioning and adequate parenting skills.
Enhance social cohesiveness and pro- social participation
Encourage every child’s educational progress to reach his/her potential
Provide processes to identify and deal with toxic events
MHYFVic is sponsoring a five-part Project series to define the best practice approaches to prevention of mental disorders, and invites any interested members to join the project groups working on these tasks.
This article targets the third of these issues. Other projects will target the other four issues.
Why do we need to enhance social cohesiveness and pro-social participation? Research tells us that even when homelessness and poverty have been alleviated there are still differences in rates of childhood development difficulties between economically similar communities differing in social cohesion. Children from poor neighbourhoods with strong social cohesion do better than children from socially fragmented neighbourhoods.
How do we enhance social cohesiveness and pro-social participation? As an extension of
the issues in the preceding MHYFVic projects we need to encourage participation in community groups and volunteer activities. Proposing appropriate mechanisms will be the task of this Project.
Recognizing the importance of social cohesion in the integration of diverse multicultural groups into Australian society, the Commonwealth Government Department of Social Security has developed a ‘Diversity and Social Cohesion Program’ which gives grants for multicultural festivals and projects.
A private philanthropic organisation, the Scanlon Foundation, has picked up this theme and developed a whole raft of social cohesion programs. It defines social cohesion as “the willingness of members of society to cooperate with each other in order to survive and prosper”.
One of these Scanlon Foundation initiatives in collaboration with local government authorities in several pilot programs has promoted development of a number of community hubs which offer “practical assistance to establish links to wider community services and support in a safe and familiar environment, so they can build better lives and move towards full participation in Australian society.” Although the concept is aimed at supporting immigrant families it is equally valid for all families.
As an example of one such local government area in Melbourne, the City of Hume advertises on its website its program “Supporting Parents – Developing Children”. This is a scattering of ‘one-stop-shops’ that give a diversity of professional supports to multilingual self-help activities. It would be highly desirable for research to measure the effectiveness of such programs to aid advocacy for wider implementation.
Project Coordinator : Dr Allan Mawdsley
The process will be to gather information about best practice models, and publish this progressively on this website until it can be formulated into an advocacy policy for MHYFVic to lobby the authorities.
If you have any ideas to contribute or if you want to help to develop the project, please call me.
Contact Allan Mawdsley on 0419 77 00 66 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Forrest, R. and Kearns, A. “Social cohesion, social capital and the neighbourhood” Urban Studies 38:12:2125-2143 (2001)
‘Diversity and Social Cohesion Program’ accessed from www.dss.gov.au
‘Working in Partnership : The Scanlon Foundation, local communities and government working together to enhance social cohesion’ accessed from www.scanlonfoundation.org.au/docs/2013_S ocC_report_final.pdf
Hume City Council “Supporting Parents – Developing Children” accessed from www.hume.vic.gov.au/Libraries_Learning/Learning_Programs_Events/
HISTORY CORNER, 1830
Western Australia’s first asylum was the Round House Gaol in Fremantle (Hudson- Rodd & Farrell, 1998), designed by Henry Willey Reveley, construction commenced in 1830 and was completed on 18 January 1831. The design was supposedly based on Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon.
Prior to this building, the small colony coped with the problem of insanity as had happened elsewhere in Australia, with a prison ship in the harbour.
Some in family therapy circles will know of Michael White’s paper (White & Epston, 1990) on Foucault and the Frenchman’s discussion of the Panopticon. English parliamentarian and architect, Bentham, proposed this as design of a model prison, and Foucault suggested it was a model for a new form of social surveillance that evolved out of the French Revolution.
￼￼￼￼￼￼White (White & Epston, 1990) was using the Foucauldian ideas to describe how the observation of others in families creates narratives by which people come to live their lives. In the Panopticon, the donut shaped prison of several floors did not have internal walls. All the prisoners in their single cells were naked and could be guarded by a solitary goaler in a tower at the centre of the donut. Direct surveillance by an army of the King could thus be replaced by passive observation from a solitary viewpoint. Foucault had argued that much social regulation occurs by the gossip of others about others and that this has become a characteristic of Modern society.
However, although round, this building does not include the internal watch house tower. Built as a prison, it had eight cells and a gaoler’s residence, all of which opened onto a central courtyard. Its first use was as a lunatic asylum.
Construction of the Round House commenced in August 1830 and was complete in January 1831 from locally sourced limestone. In 1833 a well 45 feet deep was dug in the central compound.
The Round House was used for colonial and aboriginal prisoners until 1886, when control of the Convict Establishment prison was transferred to the colony. After that the Round House was used as a police lockup until 1900, when it became the living quarters for the chief constable and his family. It was suggested to be demolished in 1903 and again in 1929. But it remains proud on the Fremantle shore at Arthur Head.
The building has found its way into the fiction writing of Randolph Stow, whose memoir The merry go round in the sea is believed to be a reference to this small strange building on the edge of the beach. Stow again used the building in his fantasy history of Australian bushrangers: Midnite. Midnite, a character based on every known Australian bushranger, but especially on Perth’s Moondyne Joe (Greenwood, 2002), had to have a special prison built for him at the edge of the sea to prevent his escape. In vain, of course! But this little building has been widely romanticized unlike other asylums in Australia.
￼Greenwood, M. (2002). The legend of Moondyne Joe.
Hudson-Rodd, N., & Farrell, G., (1998). The
￼Round House Gaol: Western Australia’s First Lunatic Asylum. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 7 (4), 152 – 163.
Stow, R. (1965). The merry go round in the sea. Melbourne: Penguin.
￼Stow, R. (1967). Midnite: The story of a wild colonial boy. Sydney: Walker Books.
MHYF Vic: promote mental health, reduce stigma, advocate, resource, and collaborate 4
Webb, D. & Warren, D. (2005). Fremantle: beyond the Round House Fremantle, WA: Longley Books.
White, M. & Epston, D. (1990). Narrative Means to Therapeutic Ends. New York: Norton.
Alliance for the Prevention of Mental Disorders
The Annual Meeting of the Alliance for the Prevention of Mental Disorders (APMD) was held in Adelaide on 2nd December 2014. The conference had an Opening Address, five Keynote presentations and another sixteen papers by a dazzling array of Australia’s foremost researchers in the field. It was an event really worth attending.
The Opening Address by Professor Michael Sawyer on behalf of Australian Rotary Health, the financial sponsors of the APMD Conference, praised the foresight of Rotary in encouraging the preventive approach which
has the potential to significantly change the wellbeing of the nation.
The first Keynote presentation was by Professor Anthony Jorm who pointed out that significantly increased mental health expenditure had apparently not resulted in any change whatsoever in the prevalence of mental disorders. The additional money spent on mental health treatments had resulted in better care for more people but changes in prevalence were only likely to occur if additional funding was directed towards prevention which, if anything, was being cut rather than increased.
Other Keynote presentations were by Professor Helen Christiansen on preventive programs in schools, by Professor Lyn Littlefield on the APS ‘Kids Matter’ Program, Professor Brian Oldenburg on bringing the research, policy and practice worlds together, and by Professor Helen Herrman on the status of mental health promotion. Professor Herrman has just been elected as the President-Elect of the World Psychiatric Association.
Of the other sixteen papers, the majority were descriptions of useful interventions with a range of ‘at-risk’ groups, which greatly strengthen the body of knowledge for the field. However, there were two that seemed particularly important. One was by Dr Nicola Reavley titled “Preventing mental health problems : Reviewing the evidence”, and the other was by Associate Professor Cathy Mihalopoulos titled “Quantifying the economic benefits of prevention in the Australian context”.
I will try to obtain more detail for future reporting in our newsletters.
OUR UPDATED WEBSITE
After much thought our website has been significantly revised to give casual visitors immediate information about what we do and what we stand for, whilst at the same time allowing members to go straight to specific sections such as Projects or Newsletters or Events, without having to navigate past reams of information.
Now that the main revision has been implemented we are working on tasks of development of Projects to give us the evidence base for our advocacy. There are quite a few items under development at the present time which are not yet reflected in the website but over the next few months we expect to see a burgeoning of activity.
Visit us on mhyfvic.org
2014 MHYF Vic Committee
* President : Jo Grimwade
* Vice-President : Jenny Luntz
* Past President: Allan Mawdsley
* Secretary : Celia Godfrey
* Treasurer : Anne Booth
* Membership Secretary:Kaye Geoghegan * Projects Coordinator, Kylie Cassar
* WebMaster, Ron Ingram
* Newsletter Editor, Allan Mawdsley
* Youth Consumer Representative, vacant * Members without portfolio:
Suzie Dean, Miriam Tisher, Zoe Vinen, Sarina Smale
Mental Health for the Young & their Families in Victoria is a collaborative partnership between mental health & other health professionals, service users & the general public.
PO Box 206,
Parkville, Vic 3052