Annual General Meeting
If you were not there you missed a treat. The highlight, of course, was the after-dinner presentation by Anne McLeish, some notes of which are reported below. Another special feature was the exquisite Thai food served at Pacific Rim restaurant for amazingly low prices.
The President’s report, summarising MHYFVic’s achievements of the year, is also reported below. The previous committee was re-elected for the coming year with the exceptions of Zoe Vinen and Sarina Smale, both of whom decided not to seek re-election because of the pressures of other commitments. The meeting expressed its sincere thanks to these members for their wonderful service to MHYFVic over the last several years.
After dinner Dr Allan Mawdsley introduced the speaker, Anne McLeish, Chief Executive of Grandparents Victoria (GPV). He said that the two organisations had been collaborating on several projects over the last couple of years, mainly around the mental health needs of children in the out-of-home care provided by their grandparents. This form of kinship care is the fastest-growing and probably the most important form of fostering but has not received the degree of support that it requires. A related activity has been the lobbying of politicians over revisions needed in the Australian Government policy document on “Out-of-Home Care”.
Grandparents as Alchemists and Activists
Anne began her presentation by acknowledging the shared interest of our two organisations in the mental health of the children in kinship care provided by their grandparents. She pointed out that it was not only the mental health of the children but also that of the caregivers. Research had shown clearly that the heavy responsibilities of care adversely affect the mental and physical health and well-being of the grandparents, including cases of family disruption and impoverishment. There is an ongoing urgent need for recognition of the difficulties and provision of appropriate supports.
She said that both organisations had small beginnings but were passionate about their causes, and “punched above their weight”. She then outlined the philosophy underpinning GPV and highlighted its development over the last fifteen years. The Board was, and is still, driven by thoughts matching those expressed by Margaret Mead :
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Further, the Board members share beliefs that govern its work. The Board believes that:
* A group of people working together, even those without access to much political or industrial power, can stimulate change for the common good. Taking collective and coordinated action is something many of today’s grandparent activists have employed in the past.
* In order to improve circumstances for our individual grandchildren we need to improve them for all grandchildren. The community cannot prosper as a whole if gains for some grandchildren are made at the expense of others.
* All children in Australia should be considered as equals. Our purpose is not to protect the rights of Australian children as such but of all children on our lands.
Early in its history GPV recognised that it is not possible to achieve lasting improvements in the lives of children by working alone. Most of what was required necessitated changes to government policy and practice so partnerships with other organisations were crucial. The partnerships formed have been crafted in response to the needs of children and families but they would not work on the strength of a shared purpose alone. Relationships with key people in organisations other than GPV have been vital. Many issues addressed by GPV required quick action, such as letters to politicians, shot off within days. It is a credit to the power of the relationships GPV enjoys that this can often be done not by GPV alone, but by its partner organisations as well. Personal trust and shared commitment makes this quick action possible.
GPV membership has expanded in unexpected ways. Never would the Board members at the first meeting have envisaged that the organisation would form other organisations; in the case of Grandparents Australia, within a very short time after GPV was formed. Even more unbelievable would have been the thought that GPV might form an international organisation as it has with the Kinship International Network (KIN).
Since its commencement in 2001, GPV has undergone the following developments :
2001 Formed Grandparents Victoria
2002 Formed Grandparents Australia
2004 Joined Families Australia Board
2011 Formed Kinship Carers Victoria
2012 Joined Mental Health for Youth and their Families
2013 Formed Kinship International Network
Joined International Play Association
2014 Joined PLAN Australia
Joined Play Australia
Joined National Council of Women (Vic)
lf the growth in structures and membership has been unexpected. So too is the growth in the scope of issues and activities that GPV has initiated or in which it has participated. Across it local, state, national and international levels of operation GPV has:
– Travelled to four countries, all states and territories of Australia and to fifty one local government areas within Victoria. When the Board first devised its outreach program the plan was to visit each local government are in Victoria. At the time this was thought to be over ambitious, but worth attempting. Each of these visits has centred on conversations with grandparents and all have resulted in much deeper understanding of issues confronting families.
– Conducted twenty three campaigns: seven that are ongoing and will probably never end, three that were lengthy but ended when results were realised and thirteen that were snapshot campaigns, designed to highlight a contemporary injustice.
– Delivered an ambitious publications program. The publication program has developed, printed and distributed (sometimes around the world) an array of documents: the reports of fourteen surveys, 50 editions of The Grandparent newsletter, 104 editions of The Kinship Carer newsletter, 26 occasional research papers, 21 press releases and 5 submissions to government enquires.
Further, the publications program has delivered books arising from projects conducted. Chief amongst these are the booklet written to assist grandparents to take action to identify and prevent problem gambling and The Kinship Carer Handbook for Victoria. Both these publications were distributed across the state.
It is not possible to list all the detailed issues addressed by GPV. However, it is possible to mention some of the main ones: childcare, education, kinship care, poverty, mental health, and child abuse.
The following issues are expected to be priorities over the next few years:
· Free general education – for every child in Australia
· Climate change – action so that future grandchildren can inherit a healthy natural environment
· Mental health – of children and young people
· Children’s play – around the world, but most particularly in Australia
· The effects of diet on child wellbeing —
· Kinship carers – with a view to securing their rights in legislation and regulations
The following issues have been on the GPV/KCV work program for some time and will be subject of a watching brief:
· Grandparents and grandchildren denied access to one another
· Problem gambling and drug addiction
MHYFVic President, Associate Professor Jo Grimwade, in thanking Anne for her illuminating presentation, said that alchemy was turning base metals into gold, which was what kinship carers were doing for their grandchildren. It was clear why our organisations have much in common, and also how MHYFVic has much to learn from GPV in the success of its lobbying. We expect there will be much more to come.
MHYF Vic President’s Report for AGM: 26 August, 2015
Welcome everybody, especially our guest speaker, Ms Anne McLeish from Grandparents’ Australia. In the twelve months since I last reported much has happened.
MHYF Vic is an organization committed to hearing the voices of consumers and of professionals. At each of forums, and in our newsletters we try to present the range of professions that contribute to the delivery of quality mental health services for children and families. Tonight we receive input from a consumer advocate.
This year, we have continued to work to achieve more understanding of the needs for mental health services for children and families through a series of collaborations. Most of the activities have been reported in our newsletters, but we have been active within:
• AICAFMHA (now EmergingMinds)
• Children’s Court clinic
• Grandparents Australia
• Winston Rickards Memorial Oration
The involvement with IACAPAP has largely been through the efforts of Dr Suzanne Dean as one of the Vice-Presidents on the organization and with responsibilities associated with the Asia-Pacific region and with consumer advocacy. Dr Dean arranged for presentations at the South African IACAPAP meeting in October last year. Meanwhile she is working toward a collaboration in Canada next year with providers to indigenous communities world-wide.
Our involvement with the Child and Adolescent Faculty of RANZCP has been more low key this year, but big plans are afoot! More of this later, but the relationship remains productive.
We remain interested in supporting our National Lobby group: AICAFMHA. Ms Vicki Cowling, having replaced Ms Jenny Luntz as a Director of AICAFMHA, representing Victoria, has provided an ongoing link with AICAFMHA. However, we would like to be closer to the national issues affecting family mental health.
The Children’s Court clinic legislation was enacted late last year and we have written to members of State Parliament that they review the legislation and not reduce the important role that the clinic plays in assessing children and their families.
Grandparents Australia participated in this letter campaign in support of the access and custody rights of grandparents who care for children. This followed a previous letter campaign to the Federal Parliamentarians seeking better support for carers. Liaison with Grandparents Australia has been undertaken by Ms Miriam Tisher and Dr Allan Mawdsley; I thank them for this work. Tonight’s presentation represents a further chance to build our collaboration.
The achievement of the year, as usual, was the annual Winston Rickards Memorial Oration. The committee of Dr Dean, our secretary, Dr Celia Godfrey, and our once again did a splendid job. This was the WRMO about advocacy for children. Mr Bernie Geary presented with great understanding drawn from a long career that started with youth work. Our immediate past Orator, Professor Allan Fels was unavailable and, in his stead, Dr Mawdsley provided a splendid summary and response. Questions were drawn from the floor and provided a very lively exchange. The speech is on our website.
A special feature of the WRMO for the several years has been the presence of students as ushers and administrative support. This year, volunteers came from the student body of the Cairnmillar Institute.
Planning for next year’s WRMO is well underway and this will take a different view to previous events in that we had speakers representing a position that brings us up to date with areas of activity that impact upon our work: psychotherapy research, children as informants on family life, the Family Court, children in detention, consumer advocacy, and children’s rights. We all know some things about these topics: next year will be atopic we all know very little about, but we should; or, rather, we will need to know more in the near future.
Administratively, we have had few changes, with Ms Anne Booth and Ms Kaye Geoghegan having been elected to sharing the roles of Membership Secretary and Treasurer, at the last AGM. We have few changes envisaged this year, but Ms Kylie Cassar will have a reduced involvement going forward as she welcomes another child toward the end of the year.
The major ongoing task is the website and we thank our web master Mr Ron Ingram for his continued work; and the constant liaison role occupied by Dr Mawdsley. We believe we have made the website more appealing to younger people, but would like ongoing feedback from website users. We encourage those present tonight to take a look and provide feedback.
One of the key problems with the website is not its form and presentation, but blank spaces. There is so much that could be added, but that people like me have not filled out their spots in the project area. We want to fill the gaps and we want others to seek to have their projects on the website. The gaps have filled during 2015 as progress occurs on our huge informational project: the Best Practice Atlas.
Significant advances in the project areas of indigenous families and of mental illness prevention have occurred (once more thanks to Suzie and Allan!).
The Best Practice Atlas is the idea of Dr Mawdsley and he continues to refine the skeleton of what might constitute best practice in our field and to seek sufficiently skilled and knowledgeable people to write summary statements about best practice on any topic within our field. Custodians of our projects have filled quite a few cells on this large matrix of information. Do people access the information through our website?
We launch, tonight, two engaging and connected projects. Firstly, we will hold a meeting on Universal Children’s Day (Friday 20 November) that we hope will become a fixture in the calendar, as is the WRMO. Each year we will hope to host an event that celebrates childhood. We will begin the process with the first in a series of celebrations of centenaries. The American Child Guidance movement established the field of child and adolescent mental health practitioners. In 1915, Judge Harvey Humphrey Baker died. Two years later, in his honour in Boston, the Judge Baker clinic was launched. Based on the success of this clinic and of the original clinic from Chicago, the Institute of Juvenile research, the Harkness Family’s Commonwealth Fund funded the establishment of seven Demonstration Clinics (St Louis, Missouri; Norfolk, Virginia; Dallas, Texas; Los Angeles, California; Twin Cities, St Paul and St Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota; Cleveland, Ohio; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) in 1922.
It is proposed to celebrate the centenaries of these clinics by international teleconference, where an agency in Australia pairs with one of these original agencies. The agenda will be negotiated in a clinic by clinic basis, but each clinic will be expected to give an account of beginnings, achievements, and thoughts about the future. We hope all Victorian child and adolescent mental health professionals and consumers will be able to join the teleconference as audience. There is much to arrange, so we need to start this year with an overview of this history and begin planning for the program of events.
Much of what I have reported here can be found in our Newsletter. This year we have had a five-part series on Prevention of Mental Disorders written by Allan Mawdsley as part of the prevention project group. This is an extensive and thorough review that bears careful consideration. There was a report of the Mental Health for All conference in Lille, France, as well. Several other conferences have been attended by committee members that went unreported, but we go to these with at least two hats; and one of them is MHYF Vic! We would like other conference attendees from within MHYF Vic to announce there attendance as, in part, representing in the ideas of MHYF Vic. And then provide us with a newsletter report, please.
There have been many reports regarding family violence, child custody, and the Children’s Court Clinic. There have been reports from COPMI and AICAFMHA. There was solid review of the achievements of headspace. The History Corner has continued. We were pleased to receive feedback from Bernie Geary about the report on the so-called ‘ice epidemic’. The newsletter wants feedback and contributions.
Finally, I wish to express my gratitude to the committee for the work of the year. Dr Dean and Dr Mawdsley are great contributors on all topics. Dr Mawdsley is also the editor of our newsletter: four high quality newsletters were produced this year under a new masthead. Please provide feedback to him about the content and please provide content that he can report.
Ms Geoghegan and Ms Booth, in the shared roles of Treasurer and Membership Secretary, have performed their roles well, but remind us that we need more members and other activities to cover our slowly dwindling finances.
Another new member elected last year is Dr Celia Godfrey. She has undertaken the role with energy and reliability. Her work is much appreciated by all the committee.
Our continuing Vice President, Ms Luntz, has remained a solid contributor to our meetings and provided the venue most times. There have other important contributions on the edges by Ms Sarina Smale and Ms Zoe Vinen. Thanks for the difference of perspective that you bring to the table. Ms Vinen has tendered her resignation from the committee due to her study demands. We wish her well!
We remain grateful for the contribution of Ms Tisher and Ms Cassar, even though they have not been able to attend as often they would like.
Once again, I thank our webmaster Mr Ingram.
Once more I invite participation of all at whatever level you can. Join the committee as a member without portfolio! Please let us know of your interest.
We hope to see you at the Universal Children’s Day event.
HISTORY CORNER, Celebration dates
As we move toward important centenaries for our field over the next seven years, MHYF Vic is planning celebrations on special dates throughout the calendar. The aim is for our community of consumers, carers, professionals, and supporters to attend special meetings to celebrate aspects of our work. The information below has been copied from websites.
The days that might be considered are:
Universal Children’s Day, 20 November
World Mental Health Day, 10 October
International Day of Families, 15 May
The United Nations’ (UN) Universal Children’s Day is an occasion to promote the welfare of children and an understanding between children all over the world. It is held on 20 November each year. On December 14, 1954, the UN General Assembly recommended that all countries should introduce an annual event from 1956 known as Universal Children’s Day to encourage fraternity and understanding between children all over the world and promoting the welfare of children. It was recommended that individual countries should choose an appropriate date for this occasion.
On November 20, 1959, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and on November 20, 1989, it adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Since 1990, Universal Children’s Day also marks the anniversary of the date that the UN General Assembly adopted both the declaration and the convention on children’s rights.
In Australia, it has been more common to celebrate this event in Children’s Week, which has been the fourth Wednesday in October; this year it will be 28 October, but South Australians celebrate on 1 June.
World Mental Health Day (WMHD) is a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy. An initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health (link is external), WMHD is an annual program held on 10 October to raise public awareness of mental health issues worldwide.
This year in Australia, WMHD has three objectives:
1. Encourage help seeking behaviour
2. Reduce the stigma associated with mental illness
3. Foster connectivity throughout communities
The 2015 WMHD campaign aims to achieve these goals by encouraging people to take personal ownership of their own mental health and wellbeing.
To do this, the campaign focusses on a simple, personal mental health promise that can be made by anyone, regardless of their own mental health.
Mental Health Week is an annual event that takes place during the first full week of October and has been running since 1982, incorporating WMHD. In 2015, Mental Health Week in Victoria will run from Sunday 4 to Saturday 10 October. Mental Health Week aims to activate, educate and engage Victorians about mental health through a week of interactive events across the state including an official launch, community festivals, art exhibitions, music, theatre and seminars.
From its beginnings in 1985, the week has grown to encompass hundreds of events and a multitude of individuals, community groups and service providers throughout the state.
Much of the effort of running Mental Health Week comes from dedicated volunteers committed to promoting mental wellbeing, furthering knowledge about mental health and eliminating the stigma surrounding mental illness.
The International Day of Families is observed on 15 May every year. The Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 and reflects the importance the international community attaches to families. The International Day provides an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families and to increase knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting families.
The International Day of Families has inspired a series of awareness-raising events, including national family days. In many countries, that day provides an opportunity to highlight different areas of interest and importance to families. Activities include workshops and conferences, radio and television programmes, newspaper articles and cultural programmes highlighting relevant themes.
The theme for 2015 was: Men in Charge? Gender Equality and Children’s Rights in Contemporary Families. This year’s observance aimed to promote gender equality and rights of children within families. It also highlighted prevention of family violence through fair family law frameworks and a variety of programme interventions.
We found out that Families Australia has an annual event that this year included Grandparents Australia as a participant. Perhaps, in 2016, we can also join in?
The calendar starts to look very interesting with the Winston Rickards Memorial Oration in March, International Day of Families in May, WMHD in early October, and UCD in November. Please let us know of things that might be done on each event. I am inclined to share IDF with Families Australia, make WMHD our annual Prevention event, and do UCD ourselves.
This is about making history.
AICAFMHA e-news August 2015
The Australian Infant, Child, Adolescent & Family Mental Health Association (AICAFMHA) has undergone re-branding to be henceforth known as ‘Emerging Minds’.
Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing
The report on the second Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing has recently been released. The survey found one in seven Australian four to 17 year olds had a mental health disorder, a prevalence that has remained relatively stable since the last survey was conducted in 1998. However, the survey found the types of disorders and the gender and age at which young people are most commonly experiencing them has changed. The study’s chief investigator, Associate Professor David Lawrence said the survey found fewer children and adolescents than 15 years ago now have ADHD and conduct disorder but there has been an increase in the number of adolescents with major depressive disorder. Joint chief investigator Professor Steve Zubrick noted that more than 50 per cent of young people with a mental health condition were receiving some kind of help and almost 90 per cent of those with serious disorders were getting help, but there were still areas of unmet need.
New campaign will help young Australians realise their brains can ‘have a mind of their own’
beyondblue has launched a major campaign to empower teenagers to take action if they are experiencing depression or anxiety. Parents can also play an important role in protecting the mental health of their teenage children, with help from beyondblue’s information for parents. The new campaign, Brains can have a mind of their own, uses quirky animated ads that feature an annoying ‘brain’ character that causes young people to experience various symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Child Protection Australia 2013 – 2014
This report includes detailed statistical information on state and territory child protection and support services, and some of the characteristics of the children receiving these services. Some of the report’s key findings include that 1 in 37 children received child protection services with 73% being repeat clients; substantiation rates were stable despite longer term increases in numbers and rates of children on care and protection orders and in out-of-home care continued to rise.
“Listen To Us”: Using the views of WA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people to improve policy and service delivery
This report presents the outcomes of a major consultation with Aboriginal children and young people across Western Australia conducted by the Commissioner for Children and Young People WA. Five key themes emerged from the consultation as follows: family and community; culture; education and aspirations for the future; recreational activities and racism and reconciliation. The report identifies key approaches and strategies for responding to the views expressed by children and young people
Supporting families with alcohol or drug problems: a guide for grandparents
The Australian Drug Foundation has published a guide for grandparents caring for children in situations involving substance abuse. The guides states that “An estimated 22,500 primary care givers in Australia are grandparents. One of the reasons why grandparents are put in this situation is because their children have problems with alcohol or other drugs.”The guide covers information for grandparents about: supporting grandchildren; supporting children and supporting themselves.
Solution-focused practice toolkit: helping professionals use the approach with children and young people
Developed by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (UK), the solution-focused practice toolkit provides worksheets and activities to use, adapt or devise for the children and young people you work with. It includes a number of sections, including explaining a solution focussed approach to children, how to explore what the child wants (their ‘best hopes’) and their preferred future as well as tools for building on success and identifying the child or young person’s support team.
‘My child’s support network’ – a new COPMI guide
‘My child’s support network’ guide has been developed in partnership with parents who live with a mental illness, their children and supporters. It is designed to help parents think about the relationships in their child’s life and ways to strengthen these to support their child and family. The guide is designed to be used separately for each child in the family.
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
2016 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.
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