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Tuesday 07 February 2017 

Welcome to factsline, VICSERV's fortnightly e-newsletter with updates, news and information related to MHCSS and the community managed mental health sector.


In this edition

National Mental Health Policy Update
CMHA Activities
Mental Health News

Other News
VICSERV Training
Other Events
For Your Calendar

National Mental Health Policy Update

VICSERV Consultation: NDIS Joint Standing Committee - inquiry into psychosocial disability


On Tuesday 31 January, VICSERV held its first face-to-face consultation to inform our submission to the Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS.  

Some a of the key issues raised during the session included:
  • The need to clarify the eligibility criteria for access to the NDIS for people with psychosocial disability
  • The need to develop a systematic process to ensure effective planning, including preplanning and engagement activities
  • The need for planners to understand more fully psychosocial disability and mental illness and the recovery framework
  • The NDIS pricing structure and its relationship to qualified mental health staffing
  • The lack of defined roles for: families and carers; peer support workers
  • The level of funding being provided under the ILC framework and its limitations with funding mental health services
  • The need to address the gap in service provision that will be created with the transferring of funds for federally funded mental health programs from DoH to the NDIS whilst many of the people currently receiving assistance from the funding will be ineligible for the NDIS
Our next and final face-to-face consultation will be held at a location in Geelong on Tuesday 14 February, 11am - 1pm. If you are a service provider and would like to attend please RSVP to Shauna McDonald on (03) 9519 7000 or by Friday 10 February.

It will be vital for the Committee to hear from those on the ground delivering or receiving services to tell their stories so if you cannot attend but would still like to provide input you can respond to this set of survey questions (the same questions will be used to guide the face-to-face sessions). *Note - link to survey may not work in Internet Explorer. 

The response period for the survey closes on Monday 13 February.  

Feedback from the consultation sessions and the survey will be used to inform our VICSERV submission and the submission being coordinated by our national peak body, CMHA.

Productivity Commission Human Services Inquiry

The Productivity Commission has released the study report of the Inquiry into Competition and Informed User Choice in Human Services on 5 December 2016. The study report is the second stage of the inquiry and is a follow-up to the issues paper. CMHA made a submission to the issues paper and will be making a submission to this second stage of the inquiry, which closes for input on 10 February 2017. All submissions are made publicly available on the Productivity Commission website and CMHA will advise in future updates when the CMHA submission to the study report is available.

Productivity Commission NDIS Costs Inquiry

The Federal Government announced the inquiry by the Productivity Commission to review the costs of the NDIS on 20 January 2017. This will be an important inquiry and a key mechanism for the community managed mental health sector to be a part of and raise concerns and issues that have emerged through the trials and roll-out of the NDIS.

At this stage a closing date for submissions and an issues paper aren’t available, however CMHA will provide any updates to the states and territories when they are available. You can register your interest for the inquiry here and CMHA would encourage anyone interested to do so.

CMHA will be making a submission and we would encourage others to also consider making a submission.

Fifth National Mental Health Plan consultation

The Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Principle Committee (MHDAPC) wrote to stakeholders on 24 January 2017 regarding the consultation process on the Fifth National Mental Health Plan draft and the proposed next stages of the consultation process.

The letter notes that 700 people registered to attend the national consultation sessions, and 130 written submissions were received.

While the letter acknowledges issues raised related to the Fifth Plan needing to be expanded in scope and become a whole-of-government plan, no other major concerns from the mental health sector and social services sector are discussed, and it reiterates that the Fifth Plan is a 'health ministers plan'.

The Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council has approved an extension of the timeline for completion of the Fifth Plan, which will now be completed and submitted to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council for consideration at its August 2017 meeting. The MHDAPC writers group will be reviewing the consultation feedback and commencing the re-drafting of the Fifth Plan. There will be further targeted consultation undertaken on the next iteration of the draft Fifth Plan in the following months.
CMHA will continue to seek to be involved with the consultation process. Read CMHA’s submission on the Fifth Plan

CMHA Activities

Meetings with MPs 

CMHA had a number of meetings with Federal MPs in the last sitting weeks in November 2016 including with the then Minister for Health Sussan Ley’s mental health adviser; Jenny Macklin Shadow Minister for Social Services and Julie Collins Shadow Minister for Mental Health; Senator Rachel Siewert, Greens Mental Health Spokesperson; and Senator Jacqui Lambie’s office.

CMHA promoted their Federal Pre-budget submission. Other submissions to the federal Pre-budget process will be made available on the Treasury website at and CMHA will advise when all submissions are available.

National Mental Health Commission economics of mental health symposium

CMHA Executive Director Amanda Bresnan attended a symposium organised by the National Mental Health Commission on the economics of mental health in December 2016. The symposium featured a presentation by Professor Martin Knapp from the London School of Economics and Political Science, who has consulted with the UK government and published extensively in the areas of health and social policy.

The Commission is working with the AIHW to explore the economic considerations around mental health in Australia. The project is seeking to bring together national and international experts, jurisdictional representatives and consumers and carers to engage the interest of key government stakeholders and advance options for future policy analysis and development. CMHA will continue to engage with the Commission on this project, as it could offer many benefits to the community managed mental health sector in terms of demonstrating the value of the sector.

Access information about the symposium and the Commission’s project

Upcoming meetings

CMHA Executive Director Amanda Bresnan will be attending the Mental Health Reform Stakeholder Group meeting on 10 February in Canberra. The Group convened by the Department of Health includes consumers, carers and key mental health organisation representatives to provide input on and discuss mental health issues and programs as they relate to the health portfolio.

CMHA will also be represented at the National Mental Health Sector Reference Group, convened by the NDIA, by Rod Astbury, CEO WA Association for Mental Health and Amanda Bresnan, Executive Director CMHA. The Reference Group brings together NDIA, Departmental, consumer, carer and mental health representatives relating to mental health issues within the NDIS.

Mental Health News

Expenditure on mental health services in Australia hits $8 billion

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released their Mental Health Services in Australia report providing data on how much Australia is spending on mental health services. 

The report shows that over $8 billion was spent nationally on mental health services in 2013–14 in Australia—equivalent to $344 per person across the population.

In response to the new data, Australia’s national mental health commissioner says money is needed most in community services. Government funding for mental health is “locked down in the dysfunctional hospital system” rather than being invested in community mental health services where it is most needed, Mr Ian Hickie says.

Mental Health Australia's CEO, Frank Quinlan, agrees saying on the ABC's The World Today program that not enough of the money is going into community based services.

The impacts of underfunding Victoria's mental health system

Recent events in Victoria, and the release of the AIHW's Mental Health Services in Australia report, has shone the spotlight on mental health funding in Victoria.

The director of the Orygen youth mental health research organisation, Professor Patrick McGorry, says that state and territory governments had placed too much of mental health spending into hospitals and acute care, with his service in Melbourne struggling to provide community care for patients.

On January 26, the Age presented an opinion piece highlighting the impacts of underfunding Victoria's mental health system following the tragic incident in Melbourne's CBD on Friday 20 January.

Place-based suicide prevention trials commencing in Victoria in 2017

The Victorian Government is partnering with Victorian Primary Health Networks to trial local, place-based approaches to suicide prevention. These trials are a key initiative of the Victorian Suicide Prevention Framework 2016-2025.

The Labor Government announced in early 2016 six place-based suicide prevention initiatives as part of its effort to halve the suicide rate by 2025 – Mornington Peninsula and Frankston, Brimbank and Melton, Whittlesea, Mildura, La Trobe Valley and Ballarat.

To progress this work, on 31 January, the Victorian Government hosted a statewide stakeholder workshop, of which VICSERV was in attendance. The workshop brought together a broad range of stakeholders to shape the design of a statewide model to support the local implementation of a systems approach to suicide prevention.

Outcomes regarding the workshop will be shared through Factsline when it becomes available. 

Children of Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI) – National initiative funding extended 

The Department of Health has provided Emerging Minds with an extension of funding to maintain the COPMI initiative until 30 June 2017. The funding will support continued access to the COPMI website, hard-copy resources and online training. 

During this time, further details will be provided regarding the development of a new national workforce support initiative for child mental health and a new end-to-end school-based mental health program, as announced in the Government’s response to the National Mental Health Commission’s Review of Programmes and Services.

To read more about the initiative, click here 


Mentally ill patients at risk without treatment in overcrowded jails

The Age has reported that mentally ill patients are increasingly being held in overcrowded jails and unable to get the treatment they need because of a lack of beds, adding to the risk of self-harm, death, or reoffending.

Public watchdogs including the Ombudsman and Auditor-General have urged successive governments to act for years, but some now say the problem will worsen unless a new secure psychiatric facility is built to take pressure off hospitals such as Thomas Embling in Fairfield.

Read the Age's article

Access to psychologists in aged care is an ‘urgent priority’, COTA tells minister

Council on the Ageing Australia is putting pressure on the Federal Government over the lack of access to psychological services for older people living in residential aged care, launching a petition calling on new health minister Greg Hunt to reverse the discriminatory policy.

Council on the Ageing Australia said that Mr Hunt needed to make the issue “an urgent and early priority”.

The Australian Aging Agenda reports

Other News

New Complaints Watchdog in Victoria

Minister for Health Jill Hennessy has announced the appointment of Karen Cusack as the inaugural Health Complaints Commissioner, with the Health Complaints Act 2016 coming into effect on 1 February 2017.

The office of the Health Complaints Commissioner replaces the former office of the Health Services Commissioner, creating a new complaints system with tougher powers to warn and protect the public from harm.

A mixed bag of media on homelessness

Over the past months, there has been significant media attention surrounding the homelessness crises in Melbourne and the government's funding announcements for homelessness programs.

Lanie Harris, from the Council to Homeless Persons, and Cathy Beadnell, from Launch Housing, has provided an analysis of the media's portrayal of homelessness through an article titled A mixed bag of media on homelessness in the VCOSS magazine Insight

Quarter of school children are bullied, mental health service ReachOut says

Mental health service ReachOut has released a survey of 14 to 25-year-olds showing one in four had been a victim of bullying in the past 12 months.

It also found the highest incidence of bullying occurred at school — 52 per cent — followed by the online space with 25 per cent, and the workplace at 25 per cent.

ReachOut chief executive Jono Nicholas said more needed to be done to break down the stigma of being a bullying victim, given the survey found only half of those affected spoke out and sought help.

To read more about the survey click here


Former Victorian Premier, Jeff Kennett, provides his views on mental health in the workplace

Poor mental health costs the economy about $11 billion a year and workers’ compensation is just a minor part of that. Other factors at play include absenteeism and presenteeism, resulting in staff performing well below their potential.

Jeff Kennett, CEO of Beyondblue, says that this is one of many reasons why performance bonuses of chief executives should be partially tied to the mental wellbeing of their employees.

Does more mental health treatment and less stigma produce better mental health?

The Conversation discussed two articles published in January that revealed how the general public views mental health care and its practitioners. 

The first article takes a close look at how laypeople perceive mental health treatment, and how their perceptions have evolved. The authors review 162 surveys, conducted around the globe between 2000 and 2015, that explore how the public views treatments of depression and schizophrenia, revealing optimistic outcomes.

The second article offers some evidence for this optimistic scenario, examining whether increases in the provision of treatment for common mental health problems have delivered reductions in their prevalence. They compare developments in the USA, the UK, Canada and Australia.

VICSERV Training

Don’t miss out - Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work – last few places available!

The application deadline for the Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work has been extended for one week. The final date for applications is now Thursday 9th February, 2017 for the program commencing late February. Don’t miss this opportunity to enrol in this nationally recognised qualification, suitable for all currently employed peer workers that provide support, mentoring and advocacy to individuals in their recovery journey.
Through a range of subsidies and scholarships, all student pay only $425 plus $200 materials fee for the full course, regardless of prior qualifications.
For further information and to register, click here.


VICSERV offers 'Workforce Planning for Community Mental Health'

The need for organisations to strengthen their workforce planning capability is critical in community mental health due to the transformation and growth brought about by the NDIS. With this in mind, NDS - in partnership with VICSERV - is offering a subsidised training course in Workforce Planning to Community Mental Health organisations in Victoria.

Where:    VICSERV, Elsternwick
When:     Workshop 1: Tuesday 14 February 2017
                Workshop 2: Wednesday 19 April 2017
                Workshop 3: Tuesday 20 June 2017
Who:       GMs, Operational or Corporate Services Managers, HR

Spaces are limited. For further details, click here.
To view all scheduled VICSERV training click here. For more information about any training course call the VICSERV training team on (03) 9519 7000.

Other Events & Workshops

National Suicide Prevention 10-year Blueprint: invitation to participate

This year Suicide Prevention Australia will be leading the development of a 10-year blueprint for coordinated and collaborative action to reduce the impact of suicides in Australia.

SPA is seeking expressions of interest from CMHA members to contribute to a consultation on the draft strategy. The options to participate are as follows:
  1. Direct input through face to face meeting. This may coincide with our own State Member meeting and will be held in the CBD or surrounds
  2. On-line review and comment
The consultation period will be late February through to end of April.

SPA would like to hear from you regarding your willingness to be involved in the consultation. Could you please register your interest and preferred mode of participation via this link.

To find out more about Suicide Prevention Australia visit

If you have any questions about SPA’s work or specific to this consultation, please get in touch with a member of the SPA team by emailing

Women's Leadership Symposium - Health sector subsidies

A limited number of subsidised seats are available to women working in the Health sector. These subsidised seats will be awarded to the first 25 registrants from the Health sector.   

Date: July 20 & 21
Location: Melbourne

View event agenda and speakers
Register online here - Please enter IND2017 at checkout to receive the subsidy
View the symposium website

Wellways Australia event for family members and carers

A unique opportunity for family members & carers to benefit from the experience and understanding of peers. Gain a more informed sense of ways to support mental health – dual diagnosis recovery. Topics include:
  • Explore what causes mental illness – drugs & alcohol misuse
  • Ideas & strategies on how to support someone in their recovery
  • Current treatment and support options
  • Strategies to care for yourself and build resilience
Date:  Saturday 11th February, 2017
Time: 10.00am-3.30pm
Cost: $5
Location: Clayton (parking and close to public transport)

Please call Kylie Armstrong 0477 732 262

Invitation to participate in Murdoch University survey: Examining the Relationship between Gratitude and Caregiver Burden

Murdoch University are conducting a study to establish whether feelings of gratitude influence the burden experienced by carers of people with severe mental illnesses.

You can learn more about the survey or participate via this link: hAps://

VCOSS members consultation on the NDIS and people with psychosocial disabilities

VCOSS is inviting representatives of their member organisations to attend a consultation to share views with other members, and to help inform the VCOSS submission to the Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS for people with psychosocial disabilities.

The consultation will be held at VCOSS, Level 8, 128 Exhibition St, Melbourne, from 10am to 12pm, Thursday, 9 February 2017.
To attend the consultation, please register using Eventbrite.

If you are unable to attend, but wish to provide feedback, please contact Carly Nowell at or on 9235 1012.

Community Partnerships for Primary Prevention Grants – Applications Closing Soon

The Andrews Labor Government is providing grants for organisations, institutions, associations or community groups to establish or expand a partnership for commitment to the prevention of family violence. Applications are now open for the Community Partnerships for Primary Prevention Grants. Grants of up to $150,000 in two categories are available to support local community partnerships to coordinate and drive family violence prevention activities.

For more information on how to apply for these grants, including program guidelines, please visit

Applications will close on 15 February. A full copy of the guidelines can be found here.  

For Your Calendar


14 February 2017

VICSERV Consultation: Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS



16-17 February 2017

VAADA Conference: Complexity, Collaboration, Consumers & Care 



20 - 21 July 2017

Women's Leadership Symposium


VICSERV is the peak body representing community managed mental health services in Victoria. You are receiving this message because you expressed interest in updates from VICSERV such as sector news, factsline e-newsletter, or NewParadigm Journal.

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