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QMHC eNews - Issue 8

25 Mar 2014

Commissioner's update

I’m pleased to welcome the 12 new members to Queensland’s first Mental Health and Drug Advisory Council. They are Deputy Chair Jan Kealton and Council members Ailsa Rayner, Amelia Callaghan, Ben Tune, Brenda Happell, Christian Rowan, Debra Spink, Etienne Roux, Gracelyn Smallwood, Kingsley Bedwell, Luke Terry and Mitchell Giles.

The Council members will be champions for all consumers, family members and carers, including people living in regional areas and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They also have expertise in service delivery and will complement our ongoing partnerships with Queensland Health.

I look forward to working with the Council, chaired by Professor Harvey Whiteford, to progress lasting reforms to Queensland’s mental health and drug and alcohol system. The Council will hold its inaugural meeting in the coming weeks.

One of the Council's first tasks will be to consider the directions we are proposing for the forthcoming strategic plan. I outlined the emerging proposals in a recent presentation to the Queensland Community Legal Centres Conference. A copy of the presentation is on our website.

With the worsening drought conditions across much of Queensland the mental health and wellbeing of people in rural and remote areas is a priority.

Last week I attended a Ministerial Roundtable in Charleville chaired by Health Minister Lawrence Springborg. Attended by key representatives from across the region, we discussed the ongoing impact of the drought and need for more local input to decisions about services and for timely and relevant information.

The February edition of eNews first discussed our initial work to address access to mental health services in rural and remote areas. We will build on this work over the coming weeks when I travel to Emerald to meet with more rural leaders and seek their input.

Another topical issue in recent weeks has been eligibility requirements for the disability support pension. As part of what I believe should become a national conversation, it’s important that the specific and often unique needs of people with mental illness are considered. They should have the dignity of work but at the same time we must appreciate that the pressure to work can sometimes exacerbate their illness. Any changes must be implemented thoughtfully in consultation with people who may be affected by the changes.

Until next time.

Lesley van Schoubroeck
Mental Health Commissioner

Seclusion and restraint – have your say

Reducing the use of seclusion and restraint is a joint priority of mental health commissions around Australia. The National Mental Health Commission (NMHC) is leading the project which includes an anonymous online survey.

Together with targeted forums for consumers and carers, the survey will gather information about how best to reduce or eliminate seclusion and restraint in mental health settings and to identify barriers to their reduction or elimination.

This is an important opportunity for individuals to contribute to future policy development and better inform debate. The outcome will be a report on international best practice in reducing and working towards the elimination of these practices and identifying more appropriate treatment options.

Click here to begin the survey.

Social services for Queenslanders

The Queensland Government has invited community feedback on its draft Social Services Investment Framework. Community feedback is critical in ensuring the draft framework will drive improvement in how government invests in and delivers social services.

Feedback can take the form of a written submission or answering an online survey. The draft framework is available on the Get Involved website with consultation closing on 4 April 2014.

National Review of Mental Health Services and Programmes - Call for Submissions

The National Mental Health Commission has invited submissions to the National Review of Mental Health Services and Programmes.

The Australian Government has tasked the National Mental Health Commission to undertake an independent review to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of programmes and services in supporting individuals experiencing mental ill health and their families and other support people to lead a contributing life and to engage productively in the community.

The call for submissions is open until 5:00 pm AEST Monday 14 April 2014 and submissions can be made via an online survey.

To view the Terms of Reference or for more information visit the National Mental Health Commission website.

Beyond BlueNational Roadshow

The recently launched beyondblue National Roadshow will start its Queensland leg in Toowoomba this September.

The roadshow will encourage people to have conversations about mental health, reduce stigma and create links between people and their local support services.

Visit the beyondblue website to find out where the roadshow will travel.

 A volunteering legacy

 In early February Mental Health Commissioner Lesley van Schoubroeck attended a farewell function at Group61 to acknowledge the significant contribution of two longstanding volunteers, John and Margaret Fox. You can read about Lesley's visit to Group61 on the QMHC website.

Lesley will meet with Volunteering Queensland shortly to discuss opportunities to foster more volunteer effort to support people living with mental health issues or substance misuse to live better, more included and more fulfilling lives. 

Online community forums: Brisbane and Gold Coast

National mental health charity, SANE Australia, is developing an online community for carers and people living with a mental illness.

SANE will hold forums in Brisbane and the Gold Coast on Wednesday 26 March 2014 to showcase the platform. For more details, including how to RSVP, visit the QMHC website

Office of the Health Ombudsman commencing 1 July 2014

The Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO) will bring a new, streamlined health complaints management system to Queenslanders.

From 1  July 2014, the OHO will be looking to identify ways to best engage with the mental health and alcohol and other drugs sectors. The OHO will be seeking input and guidance from the sectors to inform how it can best reach and provide a voice for people affected by mental illness or substance misuse, as well as their families, carers and support persons, who wish to make a complaint about a health service provided to them.

Please keep an eye on future newsletters for updates on the commencement of the Office of the Health Ombudsman.

ShaneNew appointment to QMHC

The consumer, family and carer portfolio now has a dedicated Senior Policy Officer, Shane Martin.

Shane will be responsible for developing strategies to foster consumer, family and carer co-design in the mental health and alcohol and drug systems, and their broader participation and engagement.

He brings extensive professional expertise as well as his own lived experience and strong passion for the rights of consumers, their families and carers.