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QMHC eNews - Issue 41


Venn diagram

Share your views and experiences and help improve the mental health and wellbeing of all Queenslanders. Consultation to renew the Queensland Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Strategic Plan 2014–2019 closes soon. Get involved.

10 May 2017

Commissioner's UpdateLesley van Schoubroeck

Help inform our activities and priorities

Our fourth annual Taking the Pulse evaluation survey is now open.

The survey gathers your feedback on our performance and effectiveness and allows us to identify what we are doing well and the areas for improvement. This year it also seeks your views on collaboration with health services.

I encourage you to participate.

Your views and opinions will help shape how we will influence the mental health and alcohol and other drug systems in Queensland.

Take the survey

Involuntary treatment

I am pleased to let you know that the Federal Attorney-General has now assured Mental Health Commissions that we will be consulted on the development of national oversight mechanisms of places of detention, including psychiatric hospitals and units. This is part of the Government’s commitment to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT).

This is important for people like the family member who wrote to me this week saying that the cost of lodging a complaint ‘is not worth the risk of further incarceration of our family member’. While most people report positive experiences of care, independent oversight is imperative where people are detained against their will.

At the same time, I am concerned about the way in which issues relevant to all involuntary patients are included in reports focusing on Special Notification Forensic Patients (SNFP) who have been charged with unlawful homicide, attempted murder, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle involving death, rape or assault with intent to rape. At 30 June 2015, less than 3 per cent of the people on an involuntary treatment order fell into this category.

Our recent update on locked wards confirms the Commission’s position regarding recovery-oriented, least restrictive practices in mental health wards and touches on those instances when a patient is absent without permission. Read about the update below or on our website

Action on ice

I had the opportunity to attend the Ice Regional Community Engagement Summit in April.

The summit was hosted by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk MP and was an opportunity to better understand the impact of the drug in regional and remote areas of Queensland.

You can still have your say on the Queensland Government’s draft Action on Ice plan. Make your submission here

Housing first

Congratulations, Micah Projects on the new Housing First: A foundation for recovery mental health toolkit. I was honoured to launch the toolkit.

Stable, safe and secure housing is vital to good mental health and wellbeing and a person’s recovery.

That’s why in 2015 the Commission released the Ordinary Report Social Housing: Systemic issues for tenants with complex needs. The report made 12 recommendations to address systemic issues and help people with complex needs, including mental illness, mental health difficulties and substance use problems, to keep their social housing.

Read our progress report on its implementation.

Dr Lesley van Schoubroeck
Acting Mental Health Commissioner

Renewing Queensland's Strategic Plan

Share your views and experiences

Don’t miss your unique opportunity to help shape a renewed Queensland Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Strategic Plan 2014–2019.

By getting involved you can contribute to better mental health and wellbeing across Queensland and better outcomes for people experiencing mental health difficulties or problematic alcohol and other drug use.

Provide your views, experiences and feedback by responding to the discussion papers:

  1. A renewed plan for Queensland: Reviewing the Queensland Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Strategic Plan 2014–2019
  2. Engaging people with a lived experience: Renewed priorities.

Submissions to the discussion papers close this week.

Make your submission by emailing by 5pm Friday, 12 May 2017.

You can also have your views and experiences heard by attending a consultation forum. Forums in Toowoomba and Logan are coming up soon. If you are in or near Toowoomba (1 and 2 June) or Logan (29 and 30 June) we encourage you to come along.

Thank you to those who have attended a forum to date.

Go to our website to get a copy of the discussion papers, register to attend a forum, or for more information about the renewal.

Grants program opening soon

Stronger community mental health and wellbeing

Our Stronger Community Mental Health and Wellbeing Grants Program 2017–18 will be opening soon.

Funding of up to $50,000 will be available to support innovative, locally-led, evidence-based initiatives that promote social inclusion and reduce stigma and discrimination by encouraging community participation for people experiencing mental health problems, mental illness or problematic drug use or who have been affected by suicide.

The Grant Application Form, as well as eligibility and assessment criteria, will be made available on our website.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter or keep an eye on our website to be the first to know.

Advisory Council

April meeting

The Council met in April 2017 and discussed a number of items:

  • consultations to renew the Queensland Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Strategic Plan 2014–2019
  • implementation of Connecting care to recovery 2016–2021: A plan for Queensland’s State-funded mental health, alcohol and other drugs services (with guest presenter Sandra Eyre, Senior Director from the Department of Health)
  • reconciliation process with Wolston Park survivors.

The Council also agreed to put a greater focus on Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in the months ahead.

The Council meeting communique will be available on our website shortly.

Profile: Jane Williams

Jane Williams has spent much of her life living and working in rural and remote Queensland.

A registered nurse with 25 years working in rural and remote Western Queensland, Jane holds qualifications in rural and remote health, community services coordination, management, nursing and midwifery, and rural isolated practice.

Jane wears many hats. As well as her roles as Chair of the Central West Hospital and Health Board and Chair of the Central West Rural Wellness Network, she also provides care to people with a chronic disease as a Wellness nurse in Barcaldine. Jane has a long history of similar roles related to Telehealth, rural family support, nursing and midwifery; all based in rural and remote areas of Central Western Queensland and the Indigenous communities of Woorabinda and Boulia.

Read more about Jane and other Council members on our website

System reform

Strengthening early action

We have now completed a series of five roundtables to support the update of Early action: Queensland Mental Health Promotion, Prevention and Early Intervention Action Plan 2015–17 (Early Action Plan).

The roundtables aimed to:

  • gain feedback on the Early Action Plan’s shared goal and structure
  • identify future priorities in mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention.

A total of 99 representatives from government and non-government agencies and organisations participated.

The key issues and priorities raised at the roundtables will help identify opportunities to strengthen the Early Action Plan into the future.

Our thanks to all participants for their full and active engagement in the consultation process, for giving generously of their experiences and views, and for their continuing commitment to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of Queenslanders.

Implementing least restrictive practices

Read our progress report of implementation of our 2014 Options for Reform: Moving towards a more recovery-oriented, least restrictive approach in acute mental health wards including locked wards.

Since the Options for Reform report was released in December 2014, the issue of locking wards remains of concern to people with a lived experience of mental illness, their families, carers and supporters with many expressing divergent views.

The progress report provides an overview of steps being taken by Queensland Health and Hospital and Health Services to implement a more recovery-oriented, least restrictive approach to mental health treatment.

It confirms our position as outlined in the 2014 Options for Reform report, that:

  • the issue of locked wards is complex
  • acute mental health wards may need to be locked from time to time to ensure the safety of everyone on the ward, including consumers
  • decisions about locking wards should be made at the local level based on clear and objective criteria communicated to consumers.

Download the progress report

Improving mental health and wellbeing in schools

The Queensland Ed-LinQ Initiative aims to improve the early detection and collaborative management of mental health issues affecting school-aged children and young people. It works at state and Hospital and Health Service levels to improve linkages between the education, primary care and mental health sectors.

To date the Ed-linQ Initiative has been incredibly successful and in 2015 we funded Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service to develop a model to renew, embed and expand Ed-LinQ. We received their Final Report and 16 recommendations in November 2016.

The Final Report and our response are now available on our website


Community hub showcased

The Central Highlands Mental Wellbeing Hubs project, which is funded by the Commission, was showcased at the 14th National Rural Health Conference in Cairns in April 2017.

The conference saw a gathering of around 1,100 people involved in the health care of people who live in the diverse communities of rural and remote Australia. The project was presented in one of the concurrent sessions and a paper about the project will be published in the proceedings.

The presentation included:

  • the rationale for the model being implemented in Central Highlands to support community mental wellbeing
  • criteria used to identify the localities to participate in the project
  • tools and approach being used to encourage development of local capacity
  • progress and reception of the project so far.

Good feedback was received about the capacity building approach and the use of a program logic to outline what the project aims to do and how success can be measured.

Read more about the Mental Health and Wellbeing Hubs

Grants to support older Queenslanders

Applications for the first round of the Advancing Queensland: an age-friendly community grants program are now open.

The program provides funding for local projects and initiatives to enhance the age-friendliness of communities across Queensland.

The 2017-18 grant round focuses on innovative approaches, responses and solutions to local issues with a specific focus on Transport, Outdoor Spaces and Buildings and Housing domains. Grants are open to organisations who can display a strong correlation between their project and benefits to the population of older people.

The grants program is part of the Queensland: an age-friendly community strategy which supports the wellbeing and inclusion of older people in Queensland. The strategy is an action (89) of the Queensland Mental Health Promotion, Prevention and Early Intervention Action Plan 2015-17 which takes a life course approach to support Queenslanders to start, develop and learn well, live well, work well and age well.

Applications close at 5pm on Friday 16 June.

Apply here

Alcohol and other drugs

Recognising excellence

Nominations for the 2017 National Alcohol and Other Drug Excellence and Innovation Awards are open.

The Awards encourage, recognise and celebrate the achievements of individuals and organisations doing exceptional work to reduce the harm and impact of alcohol and other drugs in Australia. The Awards help raise awareness across the country about effective projects and initiatives which are having a positive impact in the prevention and reduction of harm associated with alcohol and other drug use.

Sound like someone you know? Nominate them by midnight 22 May 2017.

Nominate here

Treatment services in Australia

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has released a new web report on alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia in 2015–16.

Key findings include: (taken from the AIHW website)

  • An estimated 133,895 clients received just over 206,000 treatment episodes from AOD treatment agencies.
  • 2 in 3 clients were male (67%), just over half were aged 20–39 (55%), and around 1 in 7 clients were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (14%).
  • The top four drugs clients have sought treatment for were alcohol (32% of treatment episodes), cannabis (23%), amphetamines (23%) and heroin (6%).
  • The proportion of treatment episodes for amphetamines has continued to increase over the last 10 years, from 12% of treatment episodes in 2006-07 to 23% in 2015-16.

Read the web report


New Queensland Chair

Our congratulations to Associate Professor Brett Emmerson, new Chair of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, Queensland Branch.

Brett is a valued partner of the Commission and has worked with us since our establishment in 2013 in his other role as Executive Director of Metro North Mental Health Services.

Brett has been managing mental health services since 1987 and has extensive experience and knowledge of mental health service delivery and reform. Earlier this year he was honoured by being appointed Member of the Order of Australia for his significant contribution to medicine, particularly to psychiatry, medical administration and contributions to mental health groups.

As Chair for the next two years, his goals are to represent College members, enhance the role of the psychiatrist in the community, and ensure Queensland’s mental health system is adequately resourced.

We look forward to continuing to work with Brett.

Sector News


  • Lord Mayor's Suburban Initiative Fund – Up to $10,000 grants available to support community projects that build stronger communities in Brisbane. More information
  • nib foundation Community Grants – Support for community initiatives which will make a positive difference to the health and wellbeing of Australian communities, with a focus on the health of young people and carers. Apply by 31 May. Find out more
  • Ian Potter Foundation – Grants available through nine program areas: Arts, Community Wellbeing, Education, Environment & Conservation, Health & Disability, International Learning and Development, Medical Research, Science, Travel, and Conference. More information
  • ANZ Staff Foundation – The Foundation aims to support projects run by charitable organisations which offer a direct and tangible benefit to local communities. Find out more


  • 2016 National Report on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention – Released by the National Mental Health Commission. Download the report
  • Consumers’ and their supporters’ perspectives on barriers and strategies to reducing seclusion and restraint in mental health settings – Journal article in Australian Health Review. Download the article


  • 15-17 May 2017 Australian and New Zealand Addiction Conference – Gold Coast. Register here
  • 17 May 2017 Carers Future Planning Workshop – Carers Queensland invites all carers to this workshop which will cover substitute decision making, mental health and decision making, financial planning, and wills and trusts. More information
  • 17 May 2017 eHealth Queensland Expo – A one day event bringing together clinicians, healthcare professionals, IT experts, vendors, start-ups and academia to focus on digital transformation in healthcare. Find out more
  • 18 May 2017 Health Consumers Queensland Annual Forum – ‘Power and Passion: Culture change through consumer engagement and partnerships’. Register
  • 22-23 May 2017 Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference – Gold Coast. Topics covered will include understanding and enhancing resilience and psycho-social implications of disaster management. Register
  • 26 May 2017 Brisbane Mental Health and Wellbeing of Young People Seminar – Generation Next’s seminar will include topics such as preventing depression, managing anxiety, mental health first aid, supporting a young person in their decision not to drink, understanding and managing anger and aggression and much more. Go to the seminar website
  • 31 May 2017 Metro North Health Forum 2017 – Brisbane. Learn firsthand how Metro North Hospital and Health Service and Brisbane North PHN are working together with a focus on integrated care. The forum will provide up to date information in the areas of health care for older people; mental health, alcohol and other drugs; and initiatives connecting care for people with complex health needs. Find out more
  • 1-2 June 2017 Working Therapeutically with Complex Trauma Clients: A Three-Phased Approach – Brisbane. Two-day interactive professional development training presented by the Blue Knot Foundation. Participants will acquire insights, tools and strategies that support safe therapeutic work, based on best practice principles, with clients who have complex trauma histories. More information
  • 30 June – 1 July 2017 Inaugural Australasian Mental Health and Higher Education Conference — An international conference open to researchers, practitioners, educators and students working in the higher education mental health space. Go to the conference website
  • 26-29 July 2017 National Suicide Prevention Conference– Brisbane. The theme Relationships, resilience and respect: Responding to vulnerability in life will bring to the fore these thematic issues in suicide prevention and how they may help or hinder implementation of initiatives at the community level. Register on the conference website
  • 27-28 July 2017 Australian Winter School Conference — Explore the complex intersection alcohol and other drugs have with other sectors with the themes of Collaborate, Coordinate and Integrate at the 2017 AWS Conference. More information at
  • 29 July 2017 Hepatitis C in Drug and Alcohol Settings Education Program – A free course designed to strengthen the capacity of clinical staff working in drug and alcohol settings, or working with people who inject drugs, to effectively test for, treat and manage hepatitis C. Register
  • 16 November 2017 National NDIS Mental Health Conference – Organised with support from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), the conference will bring Australia's mental health sector together to discuss the impact of the NDIS, learn about case studies where the NDIS has already been rolled out and plan for the future. Go to the conference website