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QMHC eNews - Issue 35


Thanks, Canefields Clubhouse for managing Queensland Mental Health Week merchandise this year.

19 Oct 2016

Commissioner's Update

18/02/15 Qld Mental Health Commission Executive staff and offices

Mental Health Week

What an incredible Queensland Mental Health Week 2016.

The week exceeded all expectations and busted targets with 175 registered events across the state.

This is a great achievement. It reflects the massive drive and effort of the mental health and community sectors — large and small — from all corners of the state.

Thank you to all involved.

You speak, we listen

I recently received the final report from our 2016 stakeholder survey.

As useful as statistics can be, they do not truly reflect the themes that come through in comments.  I have read them all – thank you to the many who left positive comments. Others pointed to areas of concern and clarification about how the Commission goes about our work and priorities, such as:

  • More opportunities and deeper engagement with consumers, families and carers
  • Greater oversight of funding in public health services (we have now commenced a project to analyse funding and expenditure on mental health)
  • The need for greater focus on alcohol and other drugs, separate from its overlap with mental health
  • Increased focus on rural and remote Queensland, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders or those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, including representation on the Advisory Council. The new Council appointments will no doubt be welcome.

Other comments highlight the challenge of interacting with more frontline staff which we will endeavour to address.

Some made comments relating to increased independence of the Commission, a change of functions and appointment of a lived experience commissioner. These require legislative change and will be brought to the attention of Government during the review of our legislation.

Thank you again to all who took part. Our next survey is scheduled for early 2017 and yes, it will be shorter.

The final report will be made available on our website shortly. In the meantime, if you have any particular questions or comments please email us at

Connecting care to recovery

Last week saw the release of Queensland Health’s new plan for mental health, alcohol and other drug services.

Connecting Care to Recovery 2016-2021 delivers a major commitment of the Queensland Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Strategic Plan 2014-2019. The plan addresses a number of important issues the Commission has raised over the years and promises a stronger focus on statewide and specialist services and strengthened mechanisms for transparency and visibility of resource allocation.

Get a copy of the plan

International leaders in Australia

The IIMHL Leadership Exchange is just around the corner. Don’t miss this great opportunity to meet people working in mental health from all over the world.

Details of a welcome to Queensland will be on our website in the coming weeks.

Attendance is free. Register

Proud and strong

qmhc-proud_strong-atsi-ap_cover_lowresAn Action Plan for Queensland

‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders are resilient with culture and customs continuing to be a source of strength and pride and the foundation for good social and emotional wellbeing.’

The Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social and Emotional Wellbeing Action Plan 2016-18 has launched.

The Action Plan aims to improve the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders and outlines 62 actions to be taken by government in partnership with non-government organisations in three priority areas:

  1. Inclusive communities
  2. Thriving and connected families
  3. Resilient people

Get a copy of the Action Plan


Annual report released

Our achievements this year


With the end of the Commission’s third year of operation also comes our third Annual Report.

Tabled in Parliament last month by the Minister for Health, our Annual Report outlines our achievements and performance throughout the 2015-16 year. Some highlights:

  • Three Action Plans to support implementation of the Strategic Plan
  • Reports outlining implementation of the Strategic Plan and indicators against its outcomes
  • Grants to 14 organisations to support local action
  • Submissions to several Parliamentary inquiries
  • Projects and initiatives to promote wellbeing, such as developing options to expand Ed-LinQ and regional wellbeing hubs.

Read more by downloading our Annual Report

Mental Health Week

2016 beats records

qmhw-events-targetMore events were registered on the Queensland Mental Health Week website in 2016 than ever before – each contributing to:

  • raising awareness
  • reducing stigma and discrimination, and
  • promoting early intervention in Queensland.

The Commission supports QMHW as part of our commitment to improving the mental health and wellbeing of all Queenslanders.

We could not have done it on our own. Thank you to our QMHW partners and many others who made significant contributions:

Canefields Clubhouse, Communify, Griffith University, Grow, MATES in Construction, Mental Awareness Foundation, Mental Illness Fellowship North Queensland, Mental Illness Fellowship Queensland, Open Minds, Queensland Alliance for Mental Health Inc, Queensland Health, Quest Community Newspapers, Richmond Fellowship Queensland, and Solas.

Achievement rewarded

Congratulations to the winners of the #QMHW Achievement Awards.

  • Individual Award – Ms Annette Coutts for her work as a consumer advocate at The Park - Centre for Mental Health, Treatment, Research and Education. Annette draws from her lived experience to provide empathetic support and effective advocacy for consumers and carers.
  • Media Award – ABC QLD ‘Heads Up’ TV Special was a collaborative news event discussed across multiple media outlets, including television, radio and digital. The TV Special explored youth mental health and wellbeing issues, focusing on two questions: What’s happening to our kids? What are we doing about it?
  • Youth Award – Ms Teneille Arundale for her work with Harmony Place, a community-based organisation providing mental health and wellbeing services for people and communities from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Teneille is passionate about humanitarian efforts, community development and improving the lives of others.
  • Jude Bugeja Peer Experience Award – Mr William Smith-Stubbs for his work on various campaigns promoting mental health awareness and help-seeking behaviour. William is Co-Founder of Spur Projects, producing a wide range of innovative mental health projects giving men resources, skills and language they need to take positive action around their mental health. William draws from his own lived experience to help others.
  • SME Not-for-Profit Organisation Award and the Earle Duus Award – The Pharmacy Guild of Australia (Queensland Branch) worked closely with four Primary Health Networks to supply mental health education and training to staff at 100 pharmacies through the Partners in Recovery Pharmacy Integration Programs. The programs aimed to improve collaborative care between pharmacies, pharmacy staff and mental health support providers and improve the knowledge, skills and attitude of pharmacy staff to better support people with a mental illness.
  • Large Not-for-Profit Organisation Award – Aftercare and Arafmi Queensland partnering since 2014 to deliver support services to family, friends and carers of people experiencing mental illness. Together, they provide carers with a range of information, skill building events, connection with other carers and connection to other relevant community support services.
  • SME Workplace Award – Labrador State School aims to promote mental health and wellbeing and reduce stigma associated with mental illness by delivering a week-long series of events and activities during Queensland Mental Health Week specifically developed to educate their students, educators and the school community about mental health issues.
  • Large Business Workplace Award – McCullough Robertson Lawyers provides a range of mental health and wellbeing initiatives to support their 400+ staff across Queensland and New South Wales. They aim to provide an inclusive work environment that is safe and supportive.

Well done also to the nominees and finalists, all of whom have made an incredible contribution to improving mental health and wellbeing in Queensland. You’re all winners in our eyes.

A story of personal experience and recovery

Dr Louise Byrne gave a moving speech at the QMHW Achievement Awards about her personal experience with mental illness and journey to recovery.

“I was given a diagnosis that felt like a death sentence.  Certainly, I was told it was the death of my dreams for any sort of ‘normal’ life. 

My small town and school were very aware of my diagnosis and I was vilified and ostracised.  We didn’t have facilities for adolescents, so I would be put in the dementia ward of a local hospital. I had been traumatised by both the initial events that led me to professional help, and even more deeply traumatised by the ‘help’ I received…

Back then, I was a nobody. I had no voice and no one spoke for me. At the time I couldn’t see how many threads were woven around me. How many candles had been lit, believing and hoping for me until I could find my own hope, my own belief.

With hindsight we all have 20/20 vision. I see the love, shared frustration, dedication and support that was obscured during my worst times.

They say it takes a village to raise a child.  And I believe it takes a community to support someone towards a life that is self-defined, a life of hope and meaning, beyond the limitations of an illness identity.”

Read Louise’s full speech

Lived experience

Listening to consumers, families and carers

The Commission often hears from consumers, families and carers about issues of particular concern.

Most recently we heard from a number of people whose concerns have highlighted the harmful impact of stigma and discrimination on individuals, families and communities.

It is critical that we work together to address stigma and discrimination year round however, and not just at designated calendar points.

We have also been able to point a number of people unhappy with a health service in the right direction to make a complaint and it’s good to hear that for some this has led to a positive outcome.

We’re glad to have provided the right information and hope to those who contacted us.

Invitation to Offer

Service user experiences of service integration and referrals

The Commission is seeking proposals from consultancy services to undertake research into the experiences of people with a lived experience of mental health difficulties, mental illness and problematic alcohol and other drug use who have accessed (or attempted to access) human services in North West, Central West and South West Queensland.

The research will identify:

  • key factors or elements that support service users to take up referrals between services
  • key factors or elements that act as barriers to service users taking up referrals
  • what individuals want with a focus on meeting their needs holistically, and
  • what good integration and referral processes mean to them.

Closing date is 14 November 2016 at 4.00pm.

Go to QTenders to download the Invitation to Offer documentation

System reform

Strengthening partnershipshhs_facilities

Improving the mental health and wellbeing of Queenslanders requires the Commission to work with many individuals and organisations. As an agent of change, we get our achievements through the achievements of others. This requires formal and informal partnerships.

Last month, the Mental Health Commissioner, Chair of the Hospital and Health Board Chairs Forum and representative of the Health Service Chief Executives Forum signed a protocol supporting collaboration between the Commission and Queensland’s 16 Hospital and Health Services.

The protocol recognises that the Commission and Hospital and Health Services seek a collaborative relationship that reflects our complementary roles and mutual interests in the areas of mental health, substance misuse and suicide prevention in Queensland.

Read more about the Commission’s formal partnerships or download the protocol on our website

Grants announced

Improved mental health and wellbeing of vulnerable Queenslanders will be supported through more than $660,000 invested from our grants program.

Congratulations to the 15 organisations across the state who have been offered up to $50,000 to implement innovative, locally-led, collaborative initiatives. We’re so pleased to offer support to your worthy initiatives to boost social inclusion, community participation and improve the physical health of people living with mental illness.

Read our media release for the full list of grant recipients and their initiatives.

More about the Stronger Community Mental Health and Wellbeing Grants Program on our website

Mental Health Act implementation

Keep up to date on the implementation of the new Queensland Mental Health Act.

Read Queensland Health’s latest Implementation Newsletter

Suicide prevention

mic-saving-lives-in-the-construction-industrySaving lives in the construction industry

Last year the Commission provided funding to the MATES in Construction (MiC) Scoping Project ‘Saving Lives in the Construction Industry’.

The project identified options to expand MiC suicide prevention initiatives to reach 50 per cent of Queensland’s construction industry – particularly in regional and rural areas and to include small and medium sized businesses.

It also reviewed long-term funding options to support expanding MiC programs across the State, including a postvention service, resilience and life skills training for young workers, and deployment of workers following a natural disaster.

The challenge now is to get support from the State or Commonwealth Governments to implement this expansion.

Download the project report

Watch on TV

Those who watched Man Up on ABC TV last week will have seen the fantastic work MiC are doing to address the high rates of suicide in the construction industry. If you missed it, watch first episode on iview

Calm resolve and stability needed

A recent report released by Australian Bureau of Statistics has brought attention to an alarming number of suicide deaths in 2015. Many have since called for more action to help prevent suicide.

While there is cause for concern, it is important to give the suicide prevention initiatives already underway time to take effect.

Both State and Commonwealth governments have given clear commitments and direction to address suicide in the community. Multi-faceted approaches are now in place that tie together the public health system, primary health networks and statewide approaches to preventing suicide.

Queensland has developed a suicide prevention strategy to reduce the incidence and impact of suicide. The Queensland Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2015-17 was released in late 2015 as part of this statewide approach and includes 42 actions to be taken by 11 government agencies.

Read more in our media release or get a copy of the Action Plan

Alcohol and other drugs

Stigma and discrimination update

Earlier this year we reported a new partnership with the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre  to undertake research to identify ways of reducing stigma and discrimination for people experiencing problematic alcohol and other drug use.

The research has three components:

  • a review of literature
  • a review of policy and legislation, and
  • case studies based on interviews with people with a lived experience.

Work has now commenced in all three areas. We expect the final report in early 2017.

Read more about what Queensland is doing to reduce the harmful impacts of alcohol and other drugs in the Queensland Alcohol and Other Drugs Action Plan 2015–17.

National trends

Survey findings have been released from this year’s national drugs trends research in three bulletins:

Interestingly, nearly half of respondents who inject drugs (43%) self-reported having had a mental health problem in the last six months. Around one third (29%) reported seeing a health professional for their problem.

Read more key findings

Advisory Council

Next meeting

The Queensland Mental Health and Drug Advisory Council will be meeting on Friday, 21 October.

Keep an eye on our website for the meeting communique soon after.

Profile: David Kavanaghdavid-kavanagh-cropped

Professor David Kavanagh is a psychologist with a strong commitment to improving outcomes for people with mental health problems.

David brings over 40 years of experience in clinical psychology research, education and practice to the Mental Health and Drug Advisory Council. He has a keen interest in innovative solutions.

Over the last 8 years, David has been developing and testing e-mental health programs and apps, and he recently began research into the use of robots in health care. He is leading the Australian Department of Health’s e-Mental Health in Practice project, which rolls out e-mental health nationally in primary care and advises on the future of e-mental health.

Throughout his career, David has advocated for the rights of consumers and service users for respectful, minimally restrictive care and support, and to actively participate in negotiations about their own treatment. David also strongly argues for the recognition of family members and carers as partners in the support of people experiencing mental illness and substance use disorders and for services to address their needs.

Read more about David and other members of the Mental Health and Drug Advisory Council on our website


carers-weekCarers Week

This week is National Carers Week 2016 (16-22 October).

National Carers Week is about recognising and celebrating the outstanding contribution Australia’s 2.8 million unpaid carers make to our nation.

The mental health and wellbeing of carers and family members is critically important. Caring for a person with a mental illness can be challenging and very difficult at times, however it is vital for carers and family members to acknowledge the importance of their own mental health and wellbeing.

Take part in the ‘Carers Count’ and say thank you to show your support for unpaid carers.

Go to the Carers Week website to find events or other ways to get involved.

Sector news

Recovered futures

lvs_recovered-futures-videoThe 12th Bienniel Asia Pacific International Mental Health Conference is just around the corner (24-26 October 2016).

Progressive thought leaders in mental health and related sectors will share experiences and contribute to an open forum to discuss what works and develop hopeful and effective recovery solutions for people and their families.

The conference theme ‘Recovered Futures: People, Practice, Partnerships, Policy’ brings together the concepts of wellness, hope and empowerment to enable people to reclaim their lives and futures.

Mental Health Commissioner Dr Lesley van Schoubroeck discusses what recovered futures means to her – watch the video

It’s not too late to register


  • Aurizon Community Giving Fund – Are you a charity or community group working in the areas of health and wellbeing, community safety, environment or education? You could be eligible for a Community Giving Fund grant. Hurry, applications close 21 October. Apply here
  • Cook Shire Council community grants – Grants available for activities that promote community and/or economic improvement within the Cook Shire region. Apply by 21 October. Find out more
  • Noosa Council grants – Noosa Council's Community Grants are intended to help organisations and individuals to meet community needs, build community skills and resilience and develop and maintain community infrastructure. Read more
  • Keith Gay Charitable Fund – Grants up to $10,000 available to organisations in the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Toowoomba and Townsville regions who support disadvantaged, sick or disabled children and their families. More information
  • QCF Regional Grants Program – The regional grants program aims to support organisations providing local service delivery on the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba and Townsville regions. To be eligible your organisation must work with the local community to address social disadvantage with particular focus on: Aged Support, Family Support, Health Support, Youth Support, Arts Support, and Community Wellbeing. Find out more
  • Care2Achieve – The Care2AchieveScholarship is for young women moving out of state care in Queensland and planning to undertake higher education studies. More information
  • Fair Work Ombudsman community engagement grants – Community organisations play an important role in providing assistance and services to vulnerable or disadvantaged members of the community. The Community Engagement Grants Program aims to support these organisations and assist them with providing advice and help to vulnerable people about workplace issues. Apply by 4 November. Find out more
  • Scenic Rim Regional Council community grants – Grants available to local not-for-profit community groups based within the Scenic Rim Local Government area for projects and events which benefit the region. Read more
  • Rockhampton Regional Council community assistance program – Funding is available through a number of categories to support the delivery of projects/events within the Rockhampton Regional Council area that contribute to building community and economic capacity. Find out more
  • Access Arts Achievement Award – The Award provides funding for Queensland artists, arts workers and producers with disability working in any art form to create, develop, present, produce, exhibit and/or tour their work. Applications close 7 November. Apply here


  • Meth Check – A package of free tools and resources for Queensland-based health and community service workers who engage with people who use methamphetamine. Get the resources
  • Two at a time: Alcohol and other drug use by young people with a mental illness – This report examines integrating treatments to broaden the reach of services for young people with co-occurring mental ill-health and alcohol and other drug issues, establishing earlier and improved rates of access to eHealth products and services and recommends making existing health clinics friendlier, as young people often find medical clinics unwelcoming and stigmatising. Download the report
  • Nip it in the bud: Young people and eating disorders – A new report from Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, in partnership with The Butterfly Foundation, highlights the prevalence and complexities of eating disorders in young people. The report also examines the financial and economic costs of eating disorders, and illustrates the impact these illnesses have on young people, their families and loved ones. Download the report
  • Video: Universal Harm Reduction Advice – Harm reduction is a key underlying principle of working with young people who use alcohol and other drugs. Dovetail have created a new short video to provide harm reduction advice that is relevant for any young person, regardless of the substance they might be using. Watch the video
  • Healthy Communities: Hospitalisations for mental health conditions and intentional self-harm in 2013-14 – This new report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare aims to assist Primary Health Networks and others in making informed decisions about resources required in providing effective primary mental health care. Download the report or read the media release
  • Mental health services in Australia – an overview of data about the national response of the health and welfare system to the mental health care needs of Australians. Download the report or read the media release
  • Trends in alcohol availability, use and treatment 2003–04 to 2014–15 – New report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Download the report or read the media release
  • Tobacco indicators: Measuring midpoint progress-reporting under the National Tobacco Strategy 2012-2018 – Tobacco smoking remains a major cause of many health problems, but according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), Australians' smoking behaviours are improving-with some groups improving more than others. Download the report or read the media release
  • Australian Burden of Disease Study: Impact and causes of illness and death in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 2011 – According to this report released by Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the disease groups causing the most burden among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in 2011 were mental and substance use disorders, injuries, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and respiratory diseases. Chronic diseases caused 64% of the overall burden, with mental and substance use disorders accounting for the largest proportion of the burden (19%). Download the report or read the media release


  • 22 October 2016 Darling Downs West Moreton PHN Mental Health Forum – Ipswich. General Practitioners, mental health professionals and all interested parties are invited to discuss mental health reform and the stepped care model. Another forum will be held in Toowoomba on 29 October. Register now
  • 24-26 October 2016 12th Biennial Asia Pacific International Mental Health Conference – The conference theme is Recovered Futures: People, Practice, Partnership, Policy. Register now
  • 3-5 November 2016 Palliative Care Queensland Conference – The theme of Embracing Life and Taking Control will showcase an exciting speaking programme which will examine the role of palliative care in chronic illness with a view to demonstrating that palliative care improves quality of life and can be given alongside other specialist interventions. These sub-themes will give a focus to the topic streams of Physical, Psychological, Social and Spiritual. Find out more
  • 29 November – 1 December 2016 Family and Relationship Services Australia National Conference – Canberra. The theme for this year is 'Measuring Success in the family and relationship sector for the wellbeing of children, families and communities'. View the program and register
  • 4 November Working with young people: Self harm/self injury workshops – Brisbane. Gain the knowledge of risk and protective factors for young people in relation to self harm and self injury and the skills for building resilience. Workshops are also in Gympie and Bundaberg later in November. More information
  • 10-11 November 2016 Strengthening our place (Fraser Coast) – Maryborough. QCOSS is inviting community members, community service workers, parents, carers and people working with children to this free 2-day event to find local solutions to strengthen child and family support services and workforce within the Fraser Coast area. An event will also be held in Rockhampton 19-20 October. Register
  • 27 February – 3 March 2017 IIMHL Leadership Exchange – The International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership Exchange is coming to Australia. While it will be based in Sydney, matches are being held across the country including in Brisbane, Toowoomba, the Sunshine Coast and Cairns. Registration is free for those living and working in Australia. Find out more