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February 2017


In this issue

State Election 2017 - What is each party offering for mental health?
Make Mental Health Count
Election Advocacy Resources
Funding still locked in 'dysfunctional hospital system rather than invested in community services'
Fifth National Mental Health Plan update
Submission to the Seniors Housing Strategy
Older Australians need more mental health support
Workforce Development Program
NDIS intermediate evaluation report
WA Mental Health Conference and Awards 2017
New Silver Sponsor
WAAMH training calendar - Semester One
Co-design training
TERP 11 Forum
Performing artists at mental health risk
Rights and Recourse
Alternatives to Suicide Forum
WACOSS' Self-Directed Services forum
LIVIN's Big Challenge Run / Walk


AS we enter the final weeks of the state election campaign, the Western Australian Association for Mental Health (WAAMH) is focused on getting the right balance of investment in mental health.

With both parties yet to formally provide written mental health policies heading into the election, Opposition Leader Mark McGowan did announce fresh mental health plans over the weekend during a Labor campaign speech.

Both the government and the opposition have committed to significant additional acute (Joondalup, Geraldton and Royal Perth Hospitals) and sub-acute (Kalgoorlie, Peel and Bunbury) services.

WAAMH is very concerned that, while both sides have stated a commitment to the Ten Year Mental Health Alcohol and Other Drugs Plan, so far neither have announced prevention and community recovery services initiatives that would shift the balance of investment called for in the plan.

This month, National Mental Health Commissioner Ian Hickie described the latest figures on national mental health spending as showing too much money remained locked down in the hospital system and a 21st century mental health system needed to be “out in the community”.

WAAMH will be calling on our members and supporters to lobby the parties to back the plan and expand community supports, housing options and co-produced services. We have included resources on how to do this effectively in this eNews edition.

Rod Astbury
Chief Executive Officer
WA Association for Mental Health



State Election 2017 - What is each party offering for mental health?

SINCE our Public Election Forum on 8 February, both major parties have made further commitments on mental health.

These include the Liberals offering more support for people who have attempted suicide and $1 million for a hospital in the home youth service in the Peel region. Labor has announced $14.5M in new funding, including 50 additional beds.

To keep up the latest mental health policy and commitment announcements as they happen, follow our Twitter feed - which can also be viewed from our website home page, if you don't have a Twitter account.  


WAAMH's Public Mental Health Election Forum

READ a full wrap of the Public Election Forum WAAMH held, here and find out what each party, including The Nationals and The Greens had to say about our mental health system

Make Mental Health Count

DOWNLOAD a copy of the infographic here.

Election Advocacy Resources

Individual advocacy

WAAMH has created helpful resources for carers, consumers and family members to effectively lobby for effective change and strong support of mental health reform during the State election campaign.

These resources stem from a workshop WAAMH hosted in partnership with HelpingMinds, Consumers of Mental Health WA, Mental Health Matters 2 and Carers WA, providing information about systemic advocacy; who to target; different approaches; and advocacy dos and don’ts.

Download resources

Sample Book
Agency Contact Details


Organisational advocacy

FOR mental health services that wish to add their voice to the election campaign trail and advocate for better commitment to mental health reform, community supports and early interventions, we have also tailored resources to assist you.  

Help amplify WAAMH's core election asks and key messages, while making your own needs, issues and solutions heard too.  

Download resources

Advocacy Resources
Sample Key Messages
Sample Picture Message
WAAMH's Core Election Asks



Funding still locked in 'dysfunctional hospital system rather than invested in community services'

ACCORDING to National Mental Health Commissioner Ian Hickie, mental health funding was still locked into the "dysfunctional hospital system" rather than being invested in community mental health services.

Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows spending on mental health-related services in Australia increased to $8.5 billion in 2014-15, although this represented only a $911 million increase (around 2.5% per annum) compared with 2010-11.

“We need to stop purely investing in late intervention and address the problems of poorly co-ordinated care,” Hickie said. 

Director of Orygen Professor Patrick McGorry agreed that too much mental health spending was going to hospitals while his and other services could not meet demand for community outreach.

Read more here:

Fifth National Mental Health Plan update

THE Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Principal Committee  (MHDAPC) received feedback from 700 people across national consultation sessions and 130 written submissions following the release of its consultation draft of the Fifth National Mental Health Plan.

While there has been overall support for the seven priority areas identified in the Fifth Plan, the committee said it found a number of stakeholders argued for the Fifth Plan to have an expanded scope by becoming a whole-of-government plan which addresses a wider range of issues. Feedback also focused on the timeframe for the completion of the Fifth Plan.

While the Fifth Plan is focused on achieving change within the mental health service system, health officials are
mindful change will need to occur in other service systems to truly achieve better outcomes for people living with mental health issues and people who have attempted or are at risk of suicide.

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 COAG Health Council for consideration at its August 2017 meeting.

This will allow the MHDAPC writers group an opportunity to consider and address areas where improvements could be made that have been identified through the consultation process and allow sufficient time for further consultation prior to the finalisation of the Fifth Plan.

The group will review all the feedback and commence re-drafting the Fifth Plan, with further targeted consultation in the next few months.


Submission to the Seniors Housing Strategy

WAAMH recently made a submission to the WA Housing Authority in response to its draft Seniors Housing Strategy.

Our submission noted:

  • In policy terms, housing is the most important intervention to improve older people’s mental health, as well as their capacity to participate fully in the community.
  • WAAMH applauds the Housing Authority’s initiative in developing the Seniors Housing Strategy and strongly supports the focus on improving access to affordable and appropriate housing for seniors on low to moderate incomes.
  • WAAMH expressed concern the Discussion Paper made no mention of older people with mental health issues or addressed their housing needs. WAAMH’s submission argued older people with mental health issues deserve special consideration in government policy and community support, however, they are a low priority for policy or service innovation or resource allocation because of stigma, lack of visibility and a relative lack of political and economic power. They are doubly disadvantaged facing double stigma of both ageing and mental illness. They are some of the most invisible and vulnerable individuals in the community.

The submission made 5 key points:

  1. The alarmingly high prevalence of mental health issues among older people has significant implications for housing policy and reform but is overlooked in the strategy.
  2. The seniors housing crisis is having a significant impact on the mental health of older people
  3. Homelessness is increasing amongst seniors with mental health issues.
  4. Major government investment is needed to increase the provision of public housing stock, community housing stock, private rental housing for low income seniors, and specialist supportive housing options for older people, including older people with mental health issues. There is a need for more supportive housing and housing and tenancy advocacy and support for older people. 
  5. Housing modifications and adaptions for older people have mental health benefits.

Read our full submission to the Housing Authority here. 

Older Australians need more mental health support

COUNCIL on the Ageing Australia (COTA) is running a campaign to overturn a discriminatory Federal Government policy which denies 170,000 Australians, living in residential aged care, access to Medicare-funded mental health services.

Currently, older Australians living in residential care are denied access to Medicare-funded mental health services available to the rest of the community through the Better Access to Mental Health Care Program.

This is despite age care residents suffering some of the highest incidence of depression in the country and just 2% of nursing home residents who suffer depression receiving treatment.

The COTA Campaign and petition is here:



Workforce Development Program

WITH the community mental health sector workforce has experienced considerable growth and change over the last decade, WAAMH has commenced a Workforce Development project to identify future workforce development needs of the sector (and in others sectors that deliver mental health services).

The project will contribute to the Drug and Alcohol and Mental Health Workforce Development Strategy being developed by the Mental Health Commission this year.

WAAMH's project is currently in the desktop review and planning stage, with some scoping consultations underway. Face-to-face consultations, interviews and forums will be undertaken in metropolitan and rural area areas throughout March and April 2017 and two surveys - one for managers/coordinators and one for workers - will be distributed.

For further information or to have input, contact Colin Penter at or on 6246 3014 or Michael Jones at

NDIS intermediate evaluation report

AN Intermediate Evaluation Report of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), which includes findings of the evaluation of several NDIS trial sites around the country, raises serious questions about the its capacity to meet the needs of people with psycho-social disabilities. The report found:

  • Poorer outcomes for people who are unable to effectively advocate for services on their own behalf, including some people with psycho-social disability
  • People with mental health and psycho-social disability are more likely to report less choice and control over supports since becoming NDIS participants
  • People with psycho-social disability record a mean measure of wellbeing that is considerably lower than that recorded for other disability groups
  • A lack of NDIS funding for supports such as respite, support coordination, behaviour management, employment skills and psycho-social support for families
  • Lower levels of satisfaction for supports from people with a psychosocial disability
  • Significant issues around the retention and recruitment of staff with specialist knowledge

Read the full report here:


WA Mental Health Conference and Awards 2017

EARLY bird registrations opened on 14 January 2017 – go to the conference webpage for information on prices and how to register.

Early bird registration close 17 March 2017.

Final registrations close 28 June 2017.

WA Mental Health Awards 2017

WAAMH is working hard behind the scenes to bring you the first WA Mental Health Awards as part of the WA Mental Health Conference, to be held on on 13 July, with nominations set to open on 1 March.

More information will be added to the awards section of the website as it becomes available. You can subscribe for conference and awards updates here.


EXCITING new sponsorship opportunities are now available for organisations who would like to support the WA Mental Health Awards.  Please download the Sponsorship Update – Special Awards Edition from our Sponsorship Opportunities webpage for more information. Packages are limited and being allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Existing sponsorship packages are selling fast but there are still some opportunities available and these are listed in the Sponsorship Update, as well as well as a new opportunity to support our fundraising event Frame of Mind: an evening of live comedy and storytelling with Mikey Robins.

New Silver Sponsor

THANKS to our new conference Silver Sponsor, Lifeline WA.


WAAMH training calendar - Semester One

WAAMH's training team has released its Training Calendar for Semester One, 2017.

Featuring a range of professional development opportunities and mental health education topics, it includes a range of innovative new courses, along with popular favourites.

Ask about WAAMH's other services including Shine e-learning and customised training.

All scheduled courses can be found here: 

Co-design training

HELD across two days, co-design training will assist participants to understand and implement co-design. Looking beyond surface change, co-design identifies some of the partnership and collaborative practices that have the potential to transform the way in which mental health services are delivered.

Content covered includes how to:

  • Understand the nature and benefits of co-design;
  • Establish conducive relationships with stakeholders;
  • Develop the requisite skills for collaborative design;
  • Explore specific models and practical take-home tools for use in the work-place;
  • Review relevant case- studies and share resources and ideas;
  • Evaluate and improve existing approaches.

The training will be facilitated by Margaret Doherty, professional trainer and family leader in the mental health area.

A series of training days will run from March to June 2017, so register to secure your spot now.

Click here for more information.

Members: $40
Non- Members: $60


TERP 11 Forum

ABSTRACT submissions have closed for the Towards Elimination of Restrictive Practices 11th National Forum (formerly Seclusion & Restraint Reduction Forum) however registrations are still open, but places are limited.

Join us at The University Club of WA on 4-5 May 2017 at the forum, as we explore ‘Working together, a culture of care’. 

For more information or to keep up to date with the latest news, please visit the forum pages on the WAAMH website.

Follow TERP11Forum on Twitter and Facebook.


Performing artists at mental health risk

PERTH's enlightening creatove festival season is in full swing with the Perth Fringe Festival and Perth International Arts Festival, and for the arts industry, it is a busy time.

A recent Australian study found mental health problems were widespread among performing artists of all kinds, with arts workers ten times more likely than the general population to experience symptoms of anxiety five times more likely to experience depression symptoms.

They also have three times the level of sleep disorders than the general population, have higher rates of suicidal ideation, planning and attempts than the general population and misuse of drugs and alcohol are significantly greater.

The study found that primary cause is the insecure and harsh working conditions, financial insecurity and poor working conditions suffered by artists.

Read more here:

Wellbeing collective tackles mental health issues in creative arts 

AIMING to help those in the creative arts who have struggled with mental health issues, has been the formation of the Victorian Arts Wellbeing Collective.

The collective comprises close to 90 Victorian arts and culture organisations, including Melbourne Festival, Melbourne Theatre Company, Victorian Opera and Regional Arts Victoria, which have come together to improve mental health and wellbeing for Victorian performing arts workers – those on stage and in front of the camera, as well as those working behind the scenes.

Read more here:


Rights and Recourse

THE Mental Health Rights & Recourse forum is being held 2 June 2017. The forum will explore the rights of consumers, carers and service providers across the mental health landscape and the recourse from lead agencies. This forum is intended to provide everyone with an opportunity to learn and contribute.

Forum Includes:

  • Three keynote speakers
  • Panel discussion
  • Networking event
  • Showcasing leading industry professionals

Keynote Speakers:

  • Dr Nathan Gibson - Chief Psychiatrist, Office of the Chief Psychiatrist (WA)
  • Debora Colvin - Chief Mental Health Advocate, Mental Health Advocacy Service (WA)
  • Michael Hawkins - President, Mental Health Tribunal (WA)

Members: $25
Non- Members: $35

The Mental Health Rights & Recourse is provided by the WA Association for Mental Health in partnership with the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist, Mental Health Advocacy Service and the Mental Health Tribunal.

Click here for more information

Alternatives to Suicide Forum

FOR the first time in Australia and only in Perth, MercyCare presented an opportunity to understand in more detail the origins of the peer-led Alternatives to Suicide program and why it works.

Alternatives to Suicide is a group and philosophy developed by the Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community (USA).

This innovative, suicide prevention program was explained at a forum  today by Lisa Forestell and Caroline White whom shared their knowledge about this approach, how it's evolved and why it's been so successful.

The event was opened by Minister for Mental Health The Hon. Andrea Mitchell.

WACOSS' Self-Directed Services forum

DURING 27 February – 3 March, the WA Council of Social Services is holding a Self-Directed Services forum: Empowering and Transforming Lives, and three master classes.

Master classes which may be of interest to the mental health sector include Designing Self-Directed Support for People with Disabilities on 1 March and Individual Service Design for People with Complex Needs on 2 March. Attendance is strongly recommended at the forum on February 27 as a useful starting point for understanding self-directed services in general.

Keynote speakers and facilitators include Tim Keilty and Kate Fulton.

Find out more here.



LIVIN's Big Challenge Run / Walk

MENTAL health promotion charity, LIVIN advocates healthy living for a healthy mind, and has organised a community walk or run challenge around Lake Monger to raise awareness and help improve mental health and wellbeing.

Find out more here:
Register to participate here: 

WA Association for Mental Health

1 Nash Street Perth WA 6000



Tel 08 6246 3000
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