July 2017

Newsletter No. 59

2017 MHYFVic Annual General Meeting National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health History Corner 2017 Newsletter items from ‘Emerging Minds’ Place-based approaches to Child Services

“Indigenous children, youth and families: Cross-cultural experiences of Mental Health issues.”

The after-dinner speaker at this year’s MHYFVic Annual General Meeting will be Mr Riwai Wilson, principal mental health worker in the Koori Kids’ Mental Health Program in Victoria. Riwai has just returned from a Creswick Foundation travelling fellowship, awarded for the study of indigenous mental health programs in Canada and the United States. While overseas, he also presented a paper on the subject of indigenous mental health at the Calgary Congress of the International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions. His presentation will highlight lessons learnt from the comparison of indigenous mental health programs in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States.
The Annual General Meeting will be held on Thursday 24th August 2017 at the Pacific Rim Thai Restaurant at the corner of Bridport and Ferrars Streets, Albert Park, at 6.30 for 7pm
The meeting will include the usual reports and election of office-bearers for the coming year, followed by dinner and the after-dinner presentation. Visitors are welcome but only financial members are entitled to vote.
Application forms for membership and nomination forms for election accompany this newsletter and must be returned to the Secretary no later than one week before the AGM.

National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health.

A Special Edition of the e-Newsletter of ‘Emerging Minds’, the counterpart organisation at the Federal level to what MHYFVic does at the State level, made the following announcement on Thursday 6/6/17:
“Today the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, announced funding for the Emerging Minds: National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health, the first program of its kind in Australia.
The innovative initiative, which follows a competitive tender process, sees the creation of 42 new jobs and will be led by Emerging Minds in a collaborative partnership with the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), the Australian National University (ANU), the Parenting Research Centre, and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).
The Centre will provide a free online gateway to innovative information, training and resources for professionals and services working with parents, families and children (from infancy up to 12 years of age) at risk of developing mental health difficulties.
The Centre will also provide a national network of child mental health consultants who will give local support to organisations to identify, assess and support children at risk of developing mental health difficulties and build their resilience.
The focus is to achieve early intervention by driving systems change, transforming the delivery of support services for children and their families.
Emerging Minds Chair, Phil Robinson, said, “addressing emerging emotional and behavioural problems in infancy and childhood can reduce the immediate and short term impact and, in the longer term, prevent mental health problems developing in adolescence and adulthood.
“Our goal is to ensure that professionals have access to training, tools and support so that they are better equipped to identify and assess children and families experiencing difficulties.
“To this end, we are delighted to have been awarded the funding to establish the National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health, in collaboration with our valued partners. This initiative will support staff working with children at risk of mental health difficulties and their parents or guardians, to promote children’s resilience and well-being.”
The Emerging Minds: National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health will be based in Adelaide with locations across Australia, it has been funded for an initial period of two years and aims to commence the delivery of training resources in October.
We’ll regularly keep in touch with progress updates here but remember to follow us on social media too.

Children of Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI) national initiative
As part of the transition to the National Workforce Centre, the Children for Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI) national initiative will no longer receive direct funding from the Australian Government following June 30 this year.
The COPMI team is currently developing a transition plan regarding the future availability of COPMI materials and will provide another update soon.”


The celebration of the centenary of the Maternal and Child Health service in Victoria was a thoroughly enjoyable event. The collection of memorabilia that filled the foyer of the Collingwood Town Hall (pamphlets, books, weighing machines, and other medical equipment) was fascinating, as were laminated copies of handwritten letters to MCH nurses. To see the happiness on the faces of the women who were once MCH nurses was warming. There were, perhaps, three hundred people at the event and all were very happy.
The event was organized by the City of Yarra, where the original service began in a nearby North Richmond Church Hall, City of Banyule (who supplied a video of contemporary MCH practice with interviews of consumers), City of Knox (who supplied much of the memorabilia, the Municipal Association of Victoria, and the Victorian government departments of Education and Training, and Child and Family Services and Youth Affairs. Much was made of the municipal basis of the services, in collaboration with the state government.
The speakers were introduced by Cr Amanda Stone, Mayor of Yarra (and a trained child psychotherapist), beginning with a welcome to country by Aunty Di Kerr; then followed the address of the minister, the Hon Jenny Mikakos, and the address of the Secretary of the Department of Education and Training, Ms Gill Callister. Dr Belinda Robson gave us the history of the service based on her eBook (The best possible foundation: Yarra’s maternal and child health centres, 1917–2017). Author, Ms Kaz Cooke, took us through the hilarious published recommendations on baby care and child rearing that comes from as early as 1873. Finally, the President of the Municipal Association of Victoria, Cr Mary Stallios, wrapped up proceedings with a reminder of the 1997 shrinking of the service by the Kennett government.
The Minister spoke well and congratulated the assembled practitioners. In the audience was a niece of Dr Elizabeth Younger Ross, who founded the first clinic. There was an 89-year-old former MCH nurse, as well. There were also some little babies with their proud parents. The Minister made an announcement that $37.7 Million, had been allocated to lengthen the period of contact from 12 months to 3 years; finally, a reversal of that stupid 1997 policy. I wanted to ask her if she thought that some of the troubles with youth (another of her portfolios) come from the reduction of service to families back then. Of course, there were no opportunities for questions, but I reflected upon the value of MCH as a preventive mental health service.
When the first centre opened in June, 1917, there was an infant mortality rate of 1 in 10. Now this 2.4 per 1000 births. The rate fell rapidly from the beginning. Now, there are 662 MCH centres in Victoria employing 1100 MCH nurses and providing 187, 000 consultations per year. Big numbers, but great value. There is also an on-call service for worried parents to call (since 1973).
Some notable anecdotes were provided. The first service did not know how to get the first clients, so they went around the streets looking for signs of prams on verandahs or nappies on clothes lines. If, these were spotted, the door was knocked upon. The word got around and five mothers turned up on the first day.
The funding of new centres was difficult at this time but underpinning the war effort had been the recycling of newspapers, with the end of the war, the recycling continued with the recipients being municipal baby health clinics. So many good stories … backed up with interesting video interviews of MCH nurses and photos of old centres and old consultations, including mobile services to the bush on large Dodge vans, Holden HK station wagons, and as early as 126, the Better Farming Train providing baby health service as it travelled around Victoria! For more information go to the following website:
We are all recipients of this community based, preventive health service. I, for one, am very grateful.
Jo Grimwade

Newsletter Items
Three items from “Emerging Minds:
from June e-News edition.
Report promotes infant social and emotional development and wellbeing

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) recently released their Report on the Evidence: promoting social and emotional development and wellbeing of infants in pregnancy and the first year of life. The report summarises the findings of 51 systematic literature reviews and analyses the types of interventions aimed at promoting infants’ and children’s social and emotional wellbeing. The report:
a) summarises the findings of a comprehensive evaluation of 51 systematic reviews that was commissioned by NHMRC.
b) provides a Working Committee’s assessment and interpretation of the evidence in the Australian context through its application of the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach.
c) is designed for governments and other policymakers, researchers and service providers.
d) aims to facilitate the development of evidence-based policy in Australia.

Chronic childhood illness linked with later life mental health problems

A new study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (JCPP) has found that children who experience chronic physical illness are more likely to experience depression and anxiety as adults.
Researchers at the University of Sussex and University College London systematically reviewed evidence from a large number of medical studies, looking for associations between eight chronic physical illnesses in childhood, such as arthritis, asthma and cancer, and emotional problems experienced later in life.
The results suggest that mental health prevention and intervention strategies which specifically target chronic illness sufferers in youth could be vital in treating mental health issues before they develop into more serious long-term conditions.

Depression in early adolescence may alter normal brain development

A new study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has found that the brains of young people experiencing elevated depressive symptoms early in adolescence appear to develop differently from those experiencing depression in late adolescence. Specifically, the MRI study found that cortical surface area was lower in youth with early depressive symptoms compared with those in the other groups.
The findings suggest that early adolescence is a particularly sensitive period for cortical surface area abnormalities associated with depressive symptoms and may provide a critical window for the treatment of depressive symptoms. The study is part of the Orygen Adolescent Development Study, that is being conducted by Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health.

Place-based approaches

The Melbourne University Department of Community Child Health, at the Royal Children’s Hospital, recently held a forum at which several overseas experts sponsored by the Creswick Foundation spoke to an audience of Commonwealth and State Government representatives and senior professionals from a variety of agencies involved in early childhood services. The focus of the forum was recent developments in place-based approaches to service delivery.
Typical service delivery has been for specific forms of assistance to be targeted to identified clients with special needs. However, research indicates that this approach only reaches a small proportion of children in need, and the vast majority are reliant on general societal supports. Also, because children often have multiple needs and service delivery is specific, children may miss out on some needed services and have sub-optimal response to service received.
Place-based services are delivered to whole populations of children and families in a multi-agency collaborative approach which is governed by a coordinating committee including strong consumer representation guiding evidence-based programs in response to careful data collection. The “place” is typically a local government area with a cluster of schools and services. Measures indicate a coverage of more than 90% of children with special needs.
The purpose of the forum was to encourage adoption of these approaches in our communities. We await news of changes with considerable interest.
Allan Mawdsley

National Mental Health Commission

The Commission is conducting an overview of engagement and participation in mental health. We are inviting consumers, carers, families, support people and other stakeholders to share your views and ideas.
Peggy Brown, CEO, said, “The consultation will help us better understand consumer and carer engagement and participation in relation to mental health in Australia to help inform future policy, practice and research.”
“We want to hear examples of what is happening, what is working well, what people want.

The consultation is open to everyone – whether you have lived experience, you support someone with mental health difficulties, you are providing mental health services or working in mental health policy or research.”
The consultation began in June and will continue throughout July. Log on to the Commission website if you wish to participate.

2017 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.


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


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