On Wednesday 5 August, BEING’s CEO Dr Peri O’Shea attended Mental Health Australia’s Extraordinary Policy Forum in Canberra.

The Forum was a very successful day with broad discussion focusing on key issues raised by the Department of Health in the lead up to their mental health stakeholder workshop the following day.

Participants at the Forum expressed a number of concerns that informed MHA’s contribution to the Department’s Workshop and their ongoing campaign. In particular, participants found that previous responses and plans:

  • had not adequately addressed consumer and carer engagement and “co-design principles” (nothing about us without us)
  • had not overcome fragmentation across a complex system, and
  • had not developed a suite of services that are delivered efficiently and allow long-term investment in key parts of the system.

Other important issues raised included:

  • strong agreement that the development of the 5th National Mental Health Plan should include deep engagement with consumers, carers and service providers across the whole system.
  • the provision of appropriate governance and planning arrangements are critical to ensure Primary Health Networks do not see resources shifted to clinical activities rather than the broad range of psychosocial supports required to enable contributing lives.
  • the urgent need for transition plans to be put in place to ensure that as we respond to the Commission’s review, as we begin implementation of the 5th National Mental Health Plan and as we reach full roll-out of the NDIS, we do not see gaps open up in already fragmented services and programs, harming people who are already vulnerable.

Peri participated in the Forum, speaking on behalf of consumers and advocating for increased consumer participation and partnerships. She advocated for a national roll-out of the YES (Your Experience of Service) tool as part of a Consumer Participation Framework, like the one developed in NSW through the MH-CoPES project. Peri reports that support for consumer participation being front-and-centre in a new National Mental Health Plan was high amongst forum delegates.

Participants also had the opportunity to see an address by Professor Allan Fels at the National Press Club, where Professor Fels urged all governments to commit to mental health reform. Peri attended the address and highly recommends that everyone with an interest in the mental health sector check out what Professor Fels has to say. You can watch the full address here.

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