United mental health sector calls for real mental health reform

United mental health sector calls for real mental health reform

An alliance of 46 mental health sector organisations and stakeholders are calling on all political parties to commit to five specific and sustainable reforms to mental health services, following the release of the most significant Report into mental health in over a decade.

The Report, Obsessive Hope Disorder: Reflections on 30 years of mental health reform in Australia and visions for the future, was launched by former Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commissioner, Brian Burdekin AO on 6 August, at the start of the Federal Election campaign.

Today, an alliance of community and stakeholder organisations is calling for all political parties to respond to the ‘Manifesto for Change’ set out in the Obsessive Hope Disorder Report.

Adjunct Professor John Mendoza, Director of ConNetica and former Chair of the National Advisory Council on Mental Health, instigated the Report.

“For the millions of Australians with mental health problems, access to effective care remains a daily challenge. For decades, people with mental health problems and their families have lived in hope that someday their needs will count as much as those afflicted with cancer, cardiovascular disease or other common health conditions where we have seen dramatic improvements in care, quality of life and life expectancy,” John Mendoza said.

“The signatory organisations to this statement and the Manifesto for Change represent millions of Australians and present a real and sustained strategy for mental health reform. The five key areas of sustained reform being called for are:

  • An end to the confusion of accountability for funding between federal and state / territory governments
  • The development of a national service framework and model of community based mental health care
  • The development of a national workforce plan for mental health
  • Funding directed to evidence based services and research, and
  • Accountability for the money spent on services to see if they are actually working.”

“The signatories believe that the time for our political leaders to respond is now. Australians deserve to know before 7 September which party will make mental health reform a priority and what they have planned,” John Mendoza said.

“We are calling on all political parties to support the recommendations of the Report. The Greens have released their mental health policy, along with their previously released rural mental health policy. Their policies, in line with the Report, include the need for an anti-stigma campaign and establishing a National Institute for Mental Health Research. Focusing on mental health services that are community-based and put people first is the right approach, along with emphasising prevention and early intervention. We await policies from Labor and the Coalition”.

Professor Patrick McGorry, 2010 Australian of the Year and Executive Director of Orygen Youth Health in Victoria, contributed his views on mental health reform.

“While vital momentum for desperately needed change in reform is being built in the community and our new political leadership, there are some immediate and decisive steps we need to take. First we need to finish the task of constructing a comprehensive system of early intervention and youth mental health care through the headspace and EPPIC reforms,” Patrick McGorry said.

“Secondly we urgently need to stop the haemorrhaging of care at community level and to demand that State governments and hospital CEO’s ring fence community mental health budgets and strengthen mental health governance with the health system, And thirdly Federal investments for the seriously mentally ill must shift to practical evidence based programs in housing, employment and assertive community treatment.”

Professor Pat Dudgeon, an Indigenous Australian psychologist and National Mental Health Commissioner, spoke about the urgent need for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health to be a priority

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health must be a priority. The situation is in a critical state that requires focus and planning at all levels. This must be led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with support and partnerships, and recognising cultural concepts such as connection to land and community,” Pat Dudgeon said.

David Meldrum, Executive Director, Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia talked about the need for accountability and leadership in mental health.

“Overall, progress has been slow and patchy. Some brilliant initiatives have emerged at state and federal levels, and as a society we have come a long way in bringing mental illness out of the closet. But the overall reform process still lacks ongoing national leadership, good data and accountability,” David Meldrum said.

“We simply can’t get to the end of this decade to find people with severe mental illness still living 25 years less than the rest of the population and with hundreds taking their own lives every year. Their quality of life reflects on our collective failures. We know we can do so much better, but a few good budget measures every few years doesn’t anywhere near cut it.

The list of signatories is included below.

Media inquiries – Amanda Bresnan 0417 193 407


Act Belong Commit Mentally Healthy WA Campaign
Australasian Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health

Brain and Mind Research Institute, University of Sydney

The Butterfly Foundation Carers ACT

Centre for Mental Health Research, Australian National University
Choice Support Services
ConNetica Consulting

Professor Pat Dudgeon – Research Fellow, University WA and National Mental Health Commissioner
Heal For Life

Inspire Foundation
Mark James – United Synergies

Mary Lawson – long-term mental health consumer advocate

Mental Illness Fellowship Australia
Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre Movember Men’s Health Foundation
Anthony Smith – suicide prevention researcher Neami National
NESA (National Employment Services Association)
Stephen Niemiec – Psychiatric Nurse and Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Sunshine Coast
Nick O’Connor – Clinical Director, North Shore Ryde Mental Health Service
Paul O’Halloran – Senior Clinical Psychologist Orygen Youth Health
OzHelp Foundation

Ingrid Ozols – Mental Health at Work and long term mental health consumer advocate
Mick Palmer AO – former AFP Commissioner and Director Australia21

Perth Central and East Metro Medicare Local Anita Philips – ACT Public Advocate Queensland Youth Industry Links
Rajiv Ramanathan – Practical Visionaries Richmond Fellowship Queensland

Richmond Fellowship of WA ROAM Communities

Professor Alan Rosen – Fellow, School of Public Health, University of Wollongong and Deputy Commissioner, NSW Mental Health Commission Dr Lesley Russell – Senior Research Fellow, ANU College of Medicine, Biology and Enviornment

Professor Luis Salvador-Carulla – Professor of Disability and Mental Health, Centre for Disability Research and Policy, The University of Sydney

SANE Australia Smiling Minds

Anthony Smith – Suicide prevention researcher and former Board Member Suicide Prevention Australia
Maria Smith – Bounce Consulting

Standtall for PTS
Suicide Prevention Australia

Professor Colin Tatz AO – visiting fellow Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
Ted Noffs Foundation

Nicci Wall – long-time mental health consumer advocate

Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre

Bounce Goes to Washington

Bounce Goes to Washington

Bounce Consultings’ suite of training programs, namely Bounce LifeSkills, targeting the long-term unemployed, has been taught throughout Australia for the past seven years. With over 87 percent of participants finding employment after completing the program, Bounce has seen an increase in business over 300 percent this year alone. But when Americas’ White House came calling down under, Bounce Founder Maria Smith was nothing short of amazed.

“When I got the call from the White House requesting a meeting I was really knocked back,” says Smith. Smith, who had only just returned from the US less than a week earlier, quickly flew back to the states to have this once-in-a-lifetime meeting.

“The US heard about the way Bounce motivates the long term unemployed, the disengaged, and the undereducated, and they wanted to learn more about it,” explains Smith. “The US has had their own share of challenges with motivating the unmotivated — due to long term unemployment or those being released from the military — and they’re looking for fresh, new, out-of-the-box solutions.”

Deep connections with potential investors and successful entrepreneurs based in the US, opened the door to the White House, and on June 18th Maria Smith found herself at the historic Washington DC address. “It was nothing short of amazing to be there, in that historic meaningful place,” said Smith. “I was so excited the moment the meeting was booked and the meeting itself really began the conversation between Obama’s administration and Bounce.” Smith met with advisors who report to President Obama and got an exclusive tour of the infamous West Wing.

To date, conversations are still taking place and possibly in the near future, Americans will be able to experience the same introspective, soft skills training that has changed so many lives here.

When Bounce Met Fitted for Work

When Bounce Met Fitted for Work

When I was asked to run The Bounce Program in partnership with the organisation Fitted for Work, I was very excited. I had longed dreamed of running a program with a group of women that creates an opportunity for personal empowerment that included personal grooming and styling techniques. In my previous career as a Beauty Therapist, I had seen first-hand how looking good on the outside can enhance one’s internal sense of self confidence.

My experience training with Bounce at Fitted for Work was extremely positive and heart-warming. The partnership between Bounce Consulting and Fitted for Work was a perfect fit, you could say it was tailor made!
I spent six weeks with a group of intelligent, strong, incredible women, all of whom had an amazing life story to tell and have faced difficulties and challenges with grace and honour. During the program, these women experienced the magic of the Bounce Program, bolstering their confidence, self esteem and clarifying their career direction. And with Fitted for Work, they were groomed and styled, guiding them to the best clothing styles for their body types, colour matching and skincare techniques. So much fun!

The women were also invited to a Career Day to experience the ways of the corporate world and were each matched with a mentor for ongoing support after the program. We were all very well looked after by the staff at Fitted for Work and it was a joy to be a part of something so special and to witness the amazing transformations that the group experienced.

The B.U.I.L.D Project Finale

The B.U.I.L.D Project Finale

On July 2, Bounce celebrated the completion of The B.U.I.L.D Project by holding The B.U.I.L.D Project Finale. B.U.I.L.D, a twelve month educational training resource initiative, was designed by Bounce to accomplish three things: address employer and workforce development needs in Maryborough, bring the community together, and create a leadership model where companies could bond together to promote financial growth in Maryborough.

The project was a collection of educational sessions such as online business strategies, negotiation skills and government funding and tender writing. These sessions, conducted by professional Bounce trainers such as United Nations facilitator Peter Smith, were made available at no cost and were open to the community.

In the B.U.I.L.D sessions trainers addressed personalised needs of business owners and job seekers such as communication skills and conflict resolution. B.U.I.L.D also included some of Bounce’s most requested courses, aimed at job seekers who wanted to grow skills in personal development and job search techniques.

Guests at the B.U.I.L.D finale dined while Bounce’s own Jude Reeves acted as compere for the event while Bounce Director and CEO Maria Smith welcomed everyone to the celebration. Guest speakers included Andrew Gibbs of DEEWR, Danielle Green of True Foods, Scott Zampatti, a Bounce course participant, Sue Ryan of the Mighty Pen, and Chris Gilbert of Chris and Julie’s Respite Farm, both Bounce participants).

“The B.U.I.L.D Project was such a great coming together of the community, job seekers and job providers,” said Maria Smith. “The feedback has been amazing and it’s been inspiring to see how everyone has really connected to make a great change in our town.”

Bounce would like to thank everyone who was involved with The B.U.I.L.D Project; all of the Bounce course participants, professional development session attendees as well as Bounce trainers Leanne Cornwill, Dave Ramage, Peter Smith and Rose Witherow. This project would not have been possible without the support and input of everyone involved.

Bounce nominated for Business Award

Bounce nominated for Business Award

It’s just the beginning of award season and Bounce is already getting noticed. Nominated for its apprenticeship program, Bounce attended the Powercor Business Awards last month where staff member Fiona Smith was nominated for a business award.

Fiona is a former Bounce participant who enjoyed the course so much, that she became a part of the staff located at Bounce Headquarters in Maryborough. Heading all social media efforts, Fiona is an important part of the team, assisting the staff and creating social media posts that will spread the life-changing message that is Bounce.

While Bounce did not take home the award that night, the entire team had a wonderful time celebrating their nomination and meeting and mingling with other local companies. “I couldn’t believe I was nominated,” remarked Fiona. “It was such a great honor to see how far I have come from being a Bounce participant to Bounce employee.”

Congratulations to Fiona.