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Recent News

October 15, 2012

Mental Health in Multicultural Australia

The MHiMA project is funded by the Australian Government, Department of Health & Ageing to offer a national focus for advice and support to providers and governments on mental health and suicide prevention for people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.
MHiMA is currently establishing two national working groups: a CALD Consumer Working Group and a CALD Carer Working Group.

Expressions of Interest for these Working Groups are now open and applications close on October 31st. Further information, including the application form, can be found here:

 In the coming months, MHiMA will also be setting up a larger register of consumers and carers who are from CALD backgrounds (or caring for someone from a CALD background), providing further opportunities for consumers and carers to get involved in MHiMA project activities. MIFA will list all these opportunities as they become available.

October 10, 2012

Mi Networks launched across Australia

On World Mental Health Day, MIFA launched Mi Networks at 80 locationsacross Ausstralia. See the Mi Networks page

August 28, 2012

New Resources to Support People with Mental Illness to Quit Smoking

The Australian Government’s National Tobacco Campaign is trying to encourage people with mental illness to quit smoking and provide them with the necessary advice and tools to do so. They are also seeking to raise awareness of the issue of smoking and mental illness amongst health professionals and other professionals working with this group of people. 

Find resources at the QuitNow website

August 7, 2012

National Press Club address: Allan Fels on mental health and suicide prevention

Follow the link here to read what the Chair of the  National Mental Health Commission, Prof Allan Fels had to say at the National Press Club last week from an article published at The Conversation.

Prof Fels addresses issues such as:

How can you have a contributing life without a home?

How can you have a contributing life if you’re physically unwell and die young?

How can you have a contributing life if you want to take your own?

NDIS, Health Reform

He concludes with reference to the National Mental Health Commission Report Card

Every Australian deserves to know how the “mental health system” is performing and the contribution other sectors are making to people’s lives.

Find out more about the National Mental Health Commission  at the website

May 28, 2012

World NO Tobacco Day - 30 May, 2012

On World No Tobacco Day, MIFA  is drawing attention to the number of people with a mental illness who continue to smoke.

While smoking rates in the general community have reduced to one of the lowest in the world at under 18% (Cancer Council NSW, 2012) approximately 4 in 10 of the remaining smokers in Australia are people with a mental illness. (http://www.sane.org/information/factsheets-podcasts/210-smoking-and-mental-illness)

See the Press Release here

May 15, 2012

Schizophrenia Awareness Week 2012 -Tweet Chat

During the first ever Schizophrenia Awareness Week  'tweet chat' - a discussion forum held via the social networking platform Twitter, MIFA received great feedback and resources links from participants.

Links to research about childhood risk factors here and here

Links to new evidence about medication

Links to resources aimed at young people from Reach Out on supporting someone with a mental illness and understanding schizophrenia and getting help

Links to recent discussions about stigma created by media portrayals of people with mental illness and the guide to improving these portrayalsthrough the Mindframe initiaitve.

Read the editted highlights of the Tweet chat here

May 8, 2012

Schizophrenia Awareness Week 2012 Calendar

MIFA and its members conduct a range of events across Australia during SAW  to increase awareness about schizophrenia in the general community and draw attention to issues effecting the lives of people living with schizophrenia, their families and friends. See this calendar of events here.

May 7, 2012

Help us make the right choices about the website

Are you having  trouble finding the best information about  people with mental illness maintaining or achieving better physical health?

Do you have any tips about great web content that we should be sharing more widely about physical health and mental illness?

View our page under development- http://www.mifa.org.au/physical-health-and-wellbeing

The please complete our survey and make some recommendations about how you would like us to change the page so that it includes links to the information you have found useful.


April 30, 2012

Schizophrenia Awareness Week Event

Come and  join us online on Monday 14th May 2012 at 11:15am (Australian Eastern Standard Time*) when MIFA and MIFNQ presents the ‘Exercise and Mental Health Webinar’.

Who should log in?
Individuals, carers and workers in mental health, or anyone wanting to support others to examine their exercise regime in a group setting.

What will be in the Webinar?
The webinar will go for approximately 45 minutes and will include time for questions.
The webinar will include:
• Hearing stories of the importance of exercise on mental well-being from people across Australia
• Tips and techniques to help increase exercise activities
• Information about available supports

click here to register

April 26, 2012

Online survey for National Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

The National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Report card is currently being developed by the newly formed National Mental Health Commission.

The Commission is seeking input from the Australian public on what information should be included in the Report Card to support change, and help improve the lives of people experiencing mental illness, or who are at risk of suicide, and also the lives of their families and carers.

A community survey is open for feedback from Saturday 28th of April until Tuesday 8th of May 2012 at this address
The survey is available in multiple languages.

For more information go to  www.mentalhealthcommission.gov.au.

March 6, 2012

Information technology and mental illness

Click here   to go to the  SANE Australia website and read the research report on information technology and mental illness.

February  22, 2012

Sexual Health Matters

This publication, from the mental Health Coalition of SA and SHINE SA, although several years old has been recommended by consumers as both helpful and easy to read.

"Our sexual health is often ignored, but it's such a big part of being happy and healthy and whole. This resource, developed by others living with mental illness is such an excellent course of information on a topic that can be really difficult for any of us to discuss - even with our health professionals.  It looks at our sexual health from all angels, including issues about how medication can effect sexual health, and how our mental illnesses can sometimes cause us to make unhealthy sexual choices, be coerced or guilted into sex. A wonderful resource that explains it all to me in plain English, and makes me feel much happier about exploring positive options to improve my sexual health.Ten out of ten to everyone brave enough to be involved in this resource on a very important, but often ignored and always difficult to talk about issue."

January 25, 2012

Tobacco and Mental Health Webinar for Consumers

As we head toward Schizophrenia Awareness Week, the Mental Illness Fellowship is conducting a series of webinars aimed at people affected by mental illness.

Join us online on Tuesday 21 February 2012 at 1.00 pm (Australian Central Daylight Time*) when MIFA presents the first of these webinars ‘Tobacco and Mental Health’.

The aim of this event is to deliver an opportunity to discuss tobacco use and mental health.

Who should log in?Individuals, carers and workers in mental health or anyone wanting to support others to examine their tobacco use in a group setting.

What will be in the Webinar?The webinar will go for approximately 45 minutes and will include time for questions.

The webinar will include:

• Hearing stories of quitting from people across Australia
• Tips and techniques to help reduce tobacco use
• Information about available supports
• Workshop support and information

Click here to download the invitation and register to join us on 21st Febraury.

January 5, 2012

MHCA Young Carers Survey

The Mental Health Council of Australia (MHCA) has launched a survey targeting young mental health carers on Facebook.

The Young Carers Project (YCP) survey app aims to collect information from young mental health carers about their caring role; what sort of caring activities they undertake; how caring impacts on their day-to-day lives; what supports are available to young mental health carers in their area; and the appropriateness of these supports.

Young mental health carers experience significant disadvantage as a result of their caring role. Caring responsibilities often get in the way of school, casual jobs and socialising with friends, and over the long-term this can result in lower rates of employment and education participation, poorer physical and mental health and social isolation.

Despite this disadvantage, young mental health carers are often hidden or absent from key research and data collection activities that target mental health carers.


December 14, 2011

ARAFEMI Victoria Joins MIFA

ARAFEMI, a long-standing Victorian provider of mental health services, has become a member organisation of the Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia (MIFA). As the Victorian member, ARAFEMI will work alongside a strong network of organisations in each state and territory to improve the lives of people affected by serious mental illness.

December 1, 2011

Quit Tobacco and Mental Illness

Maxie Ashton from Adelaide embarked on a Churchill Fellowship to the United States and Canada to learn about approaches that effectively help people with mental illness to quit tobacco. See a brief report here

December 1, 2011

New Mental Illness Publications

The National Mental Health Consumer and Carer  Forum has a new Position Statement - 'Unravelling Psychosocial Disability'. Visit their website

The Mental Health Council of Australia has recently published a report - 'Consumer and Carer Experiences of Stigma From Mental Health Professionals'. Visit their website

The Commonwealth Government released its report - 'People Living with Psychotic Illness 2010'. Click here to view the report online

Our friends at SANE Australia were partners in this project and their response is available on their website.

August 16, 2011

Co-morbidity of mental and physical illness: Meeting unmet care needs

People with chronic physical conditions experience poorer mental health compared to the general population.Co-morbid depression and chronic disease are associated with high healthcare use and high costs to the health system.

Despite improvements in mental health care service delivery, people experiencing mental illness have high mortality from physical health issues, suggesting that the health care needs of this group are not being met. Follow the link to this RESEARCH ROUNDup which explores the reasons for primary health care disadvantage among people with physical and mental illness co-morbidity, and strategies to improve health care provision for this group.

View the report here

August 15, 2011

Peers Australia

Peers Australia is an initiative of Peer Workers who are seeking to establish a national Peer Worker Association with the vision to promoting Peer Work and quality peer work practice in Australian mental health services.

To this end the group has already coordinated a national consultation process where more than 100 peer workers, policy developers, clinicians and service managers participated in an online survey which sought opinions relating to draft objectives of an association.

A second consultation period will be open from 11th of August until August 31st, 2011. Final results of the consultation process and a decision as to whether or not to proceed with forming Peers Australia will be undertaken during a workshop at TheMHS (http://www.themhs.org.au/) in Adelaide on September 8th, 2011.

Take the Peer Australia survey at  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2QWDLKH

Peer Australia Information Pack can be viewed here

July 29, 2011

Put Dad in the picture...COPMI Artwork Project

The COPMI Artwork Project is on now! If you’re aged between 2 and 24, you can join in and let your dad know he’s important to you. Follow this link to the COPMI website where you will find all the details you need to get involved.

July 1, 2011

Overcoming Weight Gain in Schizophrenia

 “Approximately half of all patients with schizophrenia treated with atypical antipsychotics become overweight or obese as a result of treatment. These medications can affect regions of the brain that regulate appetite and eating patterns,” said Institute scientist Professor Xu-Feng Huang from the University of Wollongong click here to learn more.

June 8, 2011

Parliamentary Inquiry Takes Evidence From Consumers in Adelaide

Adelaide woman, Sarah Reece told the inquiry into mental health and workforce participation of her continued attempts to find a job or to study at university while struggling with a mental illness.See report from Sydney Morning Herald here

June 7, 2011

MIFA Sponsors National Conference

TheMHS Resilience in Change Conference

21st Annual TheMHS Conference, 6 – 9 September 2011 - Adelaide Convention Centre, Adelaide, South Australia

Resilience in Change
“This coming of age 21st TheMHS conference moves forward from contributing to the rebirth and revitalising of mental health services, to capacity building in resilience and adaptability, recognising that reform and change is an ongoing process. “

Most MIFA member organisations send delegates to TheMHS conferences. This is a great opportunity to experience some new learning and catch up with MIFA colleagues from across Australia.

You can count on some presentations from MIFA member organisations – we know of two already.

Further Details go to http://www.themhs.org/2011-conference  or Email info@themhs.org

May 31,  2011

World No Tobacco Day

On World No Tobacco Day MIFA is reminding everybody about the effect that smoking has on the physical health and well-being of all people, and in particular people affected by mental illness, who have alarmingly high rates of smoking in comparison to the rest of the population. More than 40% of the remaining smokers in Australia are people with a mental illness.

Read the Media Release

Want to stop smoking? Contact the QUIT Line 137848

May 26, 2011

Schizophrenia Awareness Video

Spend just 30 seconds and view our video on You Tube

May 23, 2011

Schizophrenia Awareness Week:
“Unlocking the Door to Health and Wellbeing: Where do we find the key?”

Thank you to everyone who attended this successful event in Sydney and those at other venues around Australia as well as the people who joined us from home.

We feel that the benefits of a national hookup were worth the effort and we hope that those people who joined us felt the same way.

We feel we are likely to do it again, on other topics of interest to people affected by mental illness, and soon we hope to be consulting widely about those options.

The video of the event will be available soon and we will place a link on this site so that people can view it in their own time.

May 19, 2011

Prime Minister and 3 Ministerial colleagues visit MIFSA

The Prime Minister Hon Julia Gillard, Minister for Health and Ageing Hon Nicola Roxon, Minister for Mental Health and Ageing Hon Mark Butler and Minister for Employment Participation and Childcare Hon Kate Ellis visited the Mental Illness Fellowship SA office at Wayville in Adelaide  today Thursday 19th May 2011. See our first photos

May 19, 2011

New Life Expectancy Study From UK

The article published in  PLoS, an online journal reports "Despite improving healthcare, the gap in mortality between people with serious mental illness (SMI) and general population persists, especially for younger age groups"

Read the article here

May 11, 2011

2011 Federal Budget - A Major Step in the Right Direction

The Gillard Government has delivered a Budget package that offers new hope to people affected by mental illness, their families and carers. This significant funding investment, and the development of a 10-year roadmap for mental health reform in Australia, are welcomed by the Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia.

Read the media release here

May 3, 2011 

Schizophrenia Awareness Week 2011 Event

Unlocking the Door to Health and Wellbeing:Where do we find the key?

It is now just 3 weeks till Saturday 21 May 2011 where at an event in Sydney at the Masonic Centre  a panel of experts from academia, MIFA member service providers, consumers and carers and our MC Julie McCrossin, journalist and broadcaster will gather and await the rest of Australia to join them as the event is web-casted across Australia.

MIFA hopes that this event will not only draw Australia’s attention to the issue of the physical health of people affected by mental illness but will also focus our efforts on actions that will assist individuals to take the necessary steps to build hope for a better future with improved physical health.

If you are unable to attend an event being held by your local MIFA member, follow this link to register to attend the event from home. All you need is an internet connection and a telephone. There is no cost to register or to attend the event from your home

SAW Flyer "Unlocking the Door"


Schizophrenia Awareness Week Activities Around Australia

Calendar of events for SAW 2011 - Find an activity near you

South Australia


Western Australia

Northern Territory



February 22, 2011

Pfizer Health Report – Issue 44 Mental Health

The Pfizer Health Report – No 44 Mental Health examines community perceptions surrounding schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and compares these with the experience of consumers and their carers. Research findings are supplemented with the views of experts in the field of mental health.

The Pfizer Health Report  No 44 was developed in collaboration with the Schizophrenia Fellowship of New South Wales (SFNSW) and the Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia (MIFA), and supported by Pfizer Australia.

The Report highlights that while Australians recognise schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are disabling mental illnesses, there is limited understanding of the impact, symptoms and prognosis for people affected by mental illness.

February 14, 2011

Review Panel to Improve Transparency of the Therapeutic Goods Administration

The Panel is looking for input from consumers about: 
• examples of times when it would have been useful for you to have access to better information about your medicine, supplement or device
• the type of information that would have been helpful
• how you would like to access that information - e.g. on the internet or other electronic media; through your doctor, pharmacist or health professional; in a brochure or handout about a specific medicine or a therapeutic device
• whether you have ever looked for information provided by the TGA and, if so, where you found it and whether it was helpful
• whether you use any other sources of information about medicines, supplements or devices.
As part of this process the TGA is running a series of consultation sessions to gain input from stakeholders, including consumers.

For more information on these sessions (including information on how to register) please visit http://www.tga.gov.au/consult/cons-transparency.htm. This site also provides further information on the Transparency Review.

January 31, 2011

Siblings Project Update

The Siblings Project has now reached the stage where registered participants will be receiving an eamil to complete the survey.

To read the rationale as to why we picked the questions click here

January 23, 2011

Peer Work in the News

Click here to read a summary of a range of peer support activities in 7 countries from the International Initiative in Mental Health Leadership.

This overview of peer work draws on the expertise of Peer Work Project, which is a program run by MIFA member MIFSA, in collaboration with Baptist Care SA Inc. 

January 10, 2011

MIFA launches Siblings Project

The Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia (MIFA) is undertaking a study on the service and support needs of the siblings of people with mental illness.

We would like to hear from you about your experiences of having a brother or sister living with a mental illness. This study will provide support for developing guidelines for best practice of meeting the needs of siblings who have a brother or sister with mental illness. This guideline will strengthen the services that MIFA and its member organisations can provide to its clients and their families.

The findings will be discussed in a research paper for publication and for conference presentations within the Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia and its member organisations as well as at national mental health seminars.

To participate, download the consent form and email it to Francesca Coniglio or fax it to 08 8378 4199

To find out more, email  Franca Coniglio at francesca.coniglio@sydney.edu.au and read the goals and objective document.

December 21, 2010

New Appointment to Mental Health Advisory Council

Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler this week announced that he would Chair the National Mental Health Advisory Council and he has appointed a new Deputy Chair, Monsignor David Cappo AO from South Australia. Monsignor Cappo is Chair of the SA Social Inclusion Board, a position he has held since 2005.

Minister Butler is quickly becoming a familiar face to MIFA member organisations and participants as he makes visits to programs, attends a Mental Health Council of Australia forum, and takes frequent opportunities to get to know about the non-government sector and its commitment to people affected by mental illness.

Mental Illness Education ACT

We have found the stories at the MIEACT website to be powerful representations of the experience of people affected by mental illness. We think it’s worth taking some time to view the short films and read the stories here.

The MIEACT website says ”Stories of people’s experience of mental illness have an additional human interest factor because for so long stigma has maintained a strong silence around mental illness, and personal stories have historically not been told, even within families. These stories are told, created and produced by MIEACT volunteers and are presented here in a variety of mediums, short film, radio shows and written accounts.”

December 13, 2010

People with mental illness can tackle tobacco

MIFA is pleased to announce that we have recently secured funds from the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing to help people with a mental illness fight their addiction to tobacco.

Beginning early in 2011, we aim to train at least eight people, half of whom with be people with a mental illness themselves to deliver a smoking reduction and cessation program. in four states and the Northern Territory.

The program will be workshop based and is aimed to help at least 300 people over a two-year period.

MIFA has secured funds from the Commonwealth Department of Health & Ageing to deliver this successful program to a wider group of people living with mental illness. 

MIFA's program is an an opportunity to extend a successful South Australian program to people living with mental illness in other parts of Australia.

To find out more about that study, click here

To find out more about our partners in this new program, click here.

December 6, 2010

Key politicians having a look at recovery services for themselves

In November and December three federal politicians with responsibilities in mental health are visiting staff, consumers and programs of several MIFA member organizations.

The Hon. Mark Butler, Minister For Mental Health and Ageing , is looking at MIFSA’s Personal Helpers and Mentors and Day to Day Living programs in Adelaide,  over two visits.


Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Opposition spokesperson for Mental Health and Ageing (Mark Butler’s ‘shadow’) is going to SFNSW’s  Sanctuary Respite centre in North Manly and the Pioneer Clubhouse.

Green’s health spokesperson, Senator Rachel Siewert recently visited MIFWA’s Lorikeet Centre in Perth, and this week is heading to the’ Opening Doors’ and ‘PARC’ residential programs delivered by MI Fellowship Victoria.  

All three attended the Parliamentary Friends of Schizophrenia event on November 25th in Canberra, where they heard directly from Sandy Jeffs (author of ‘Flying on Paper Wings’) and David Braniff about their own recovery journeys.

That three polticians from such different ends of the political spectrum should be showing such personal commitment to developing an understanding of mental health issues, shows that mental health is being increasingly understood as a non-partisan issue.

November 30, 2010

Reflections on MIFSA - A Worker Perspective

“The eighty days of my social work placement at MIFSA Wayville Activity Programs has really been a joy and an enriching experience for my career. I have gained not only in terms of academic knowledge but also valuable social exposure and Australian values and systems.”
Read more about Jalun Haokip’s experience as a student social worker at MIFSA here.

November 24, 2010

Call to Action – Victorian Election 2010

For too long, people with a mental illness, their carers and families have been let down by a fragmented and under resourced mental health system,

MI Fellowship seeks 5 key initiatives. Find out more about them here.

November 23, 2010

Glenn Close fights mental illness stigma again

Oscar nominated actress Glenn Close has long been an advocate for people with a mental illness and a vocal opponent of discrimination. Earlier this year she and her sister made headlines with an award-winning public service announcement about stigma (click here to watch).

This week, she teamed up with her sister Jessie and nephew Calen at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego. ABC's All In The Mind has full coverage.

November 3, 2010

Falling Through The Cracks Report released

The Commonwealth Ombudsman’s report ‘Falling Through The Cracks’ identifies improvements needed to address the needs of people with mental illness in their dealings with the social security system.

These recommendations address many of the issues listed in the MIFA policy papers addressing consumer and carer concerns about social security and employment options.

Click here to read it.

October 27, 2010

Federal Minister speaks out on mental health funding

This week the Federal Minister for Mental Health and Ageing Mark Butler answered a question on mental health funding that gives an early idea as to how the government in thinking about mental healh priorities at the start of its new term in office.


We think it's an encouraging beginning and look forward to hearing more from the Minister.

Click here to read it for yourself and tell us what you thought.

October 18, 2010

Carers' Week

Carers Week was established to promote and raise awareness of the valuable role that carers play in our community and generate discussion about carer issues. 

Carers Week also provides an opportunity for carers to come together, support one another and share ideas and information.

See our members’ websites for activities in your state.

October 12, 2010

Mental Health Week around Australia

Don't forget that this week in Mental Health Week in Australia and a great time to show your support for people with a mental illness, their families and friends.

To find out what's going in your state, click the links below

South Australia


New South Wales



Western Australia

Multicultural mental health forum in Victoria

September 28, 2010

New Inventors win a win for mental health

The winner of this year's New Inventors is a promising breakthrough in mental illness. It's a home grown (Melbourne) diagnostic procedure that detects mental illnesses much earlier than any other approach, by measuring changes in the ear canal that affect balance. The link leads to a two minute video segment, and if people are interested they can then view the entire episode of the show on-line.


September 21, 2010

Mental Health play Inside Out to tour Victoria for Mental Health Week

The award-winning play Inside Out premieres in Victoria this Mental Health Week 2010 at the Frankston Arts Centre (Oct. 8 & 11), Eastbank Centre Shepparton (Oct. 12), Alexander Theatre Monash University (Oct. 14) and Clocktower Centre Moonee Ponds (Oct. 15).  

The play, starring Valerie Bader and Benn Welford, tackles the impact of mental illness on families, presenting an honest, surprisingly funny and compassionate journey into one young man’s mind and a mother’s struggle to understand. 

Inside Out is presented by the Mental Illness Fellowship Victoria and Christine Dunstan Productions:  Tickets $30 Adult; $25 Concession; $16 Students.  Group ticket prices available.  For further information go to www.mifellowship.org

Invega Sustenna to be considered for inclusion on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

From time to time a new anti-psychotic medication comes on the market which we believe will be of interest to consumers and carers. 

At the moment Invega Sustenna (Paliperidone palmitate) is being trialled by Janssen Cilag in a number of countries including Australia.

Potential benefits include:

  • Once a month administration
  • No oral supplement
  • Administered via injection (suitable for upper arm)
  • Less discomfort with injection (smaller needle)
  • Less weight gain than comparable medicines
  • No cold chain management required

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) is the government body which decides whether a medication will be subsided and included on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). 

PBS listing will ensure the product is available to more people due to affordability. 

The PBAC is considering Invega Sustenna at its November meeting and is inviting comment from the public, particularly consumers and carers affected by mental illness. 

If you want to know more have a look at the Consumer Medicine Information (CMI).

For more detailed scientific information have a look at the Product Information (PI).

If you do want the PBAC to consider your views you have the following options:

It is important to note that the PBAC will only consider input which is received during the consultation period for the November meeting which is from September 22nd to October 6th 2010.

September 14, 2010

Roxon outlines future for mental health under second Labor term

The following is an excerpt from September 13's Lateline program on the ABC where Federal Nicola Roxon was asked about how the Labor Federal Government was planning to address mental health needs in its second term in office.

The full interview can be read here.

LEIGH SALES: During the election, mental health professionals came out in support of the package that the Coalition offered in that area and today the Coalition is saying that by establishing a new mental health ministry, Labor is clearly playing catch-up. Is that the case?

NICOLA ROXON: No, it's not the case that we're playing catch-up, but it is the case that we want to bring more dedicated focus to mental health. We have ...

LEIGH SALES: Is that an acknowledgement there hasn't been enough of a focus in your first term?

NICOLA ROXON: Well we were very upfront about the fact that we were focused on the overall health system and that reforming it and getting it right has a benefit for patients who have mental health issues as well, but we've made no secret of the fact that mental health and aged care are both two key areas where we need a strong second-term focus.

We've asked our junior minister, my junior minister Mark Butler to take the particular lead on that. We'll be working very closely together because any sorts of reforms or new investments will need to compliment the reforms that we are already introducing across the entire system, and I think this gives us the person power or the manpower to be able to do that well.

LEIGH SALES: The Australian of the Year Professor Pat McGorry says if Julia Gillard is really serious about making it a second-term priority that she should establish a prime ministerial taskforce because when it's under prime ministerial auspices, things actually happen. Is that a possibility?

NICOLA ROXON: Look, we always take seriously the sorts of proposal that Pat puts forward. He's a very well-respected Australian and very passionate about making sure that we can provide better health services to the community.

So, I'll consider any sorts of options that he puts forward. You know, we're about to be sworn in tomorrow. Mark will be a new minister with particular responsibility in this area and those are issues that he and I and the Prime Minister will want to discuss to make sure that we can really tackle what has been a problem for many, many decades and make sure that this Government can make the significant difference that's needed in mental health.

LEIGH SALES: So that is a possibility then: a prime ministerial taskforce, it's something that you will consider?

NICOLA ROXON: We will consider any proposals that Mr McGorry puts forward, but we do have a ministerial advisory committee. I think there have been some difficulties with that. I think we can afford to look again at whether we've got the right mix of people, whether it needs to be structured in a different way, and I'm sure that many stakeholders will have different views about the best way to progress mental health policy.

That's something that, as a new minister, Mark Butler will want to have input into. I as the Cabinet Minister will want to and I'm sure the Prime Minister who feels very strongly about mental health and the importance of us getting this right in the second term will also have a view on.

LEIGH SALES: On getting the right mix of people on that committee there was that high-profile resignation earlier, I think this year, by Professor John Mendoza. Would you like to see him get back on board in a direct way?

NICOLA ROXON: Oh, look, I think that John obviously played an important role. He was frustrated. He obviously resigned. I think that we need to just take a deep breath, settle down a little bit and look at the way we want to be able to go about consulting the community and getting this policy right.

I don't think it helps for me on Lateline to, you know, be announcing any individuals that can and can't do that. We need to look at a way that we embrace a much broader community, ultimately, the most important of which are the patients and those who suffer from mental health issues and problems and making sure they get the services that they need.

I think there are a great many people across the country who wanna be involved in that process and I don't want to announce on television tonight or tie my hands or the Government's hands as to the best way for us to be able to take this forward. It hasn't been done well in the past and we want to get it right for the future.

LEIGH SALES: There, as you know, are some very alarming statistics about the incidence of mental health problems in Australia, as there are very deeply concerning statistics about Aboriginal health.

So for example that Indigenous Australians die on average about 20 years earlier than their fellow Australians. In terms of accountability, how should we voters gauge the success of your government in these very worrying areas? Should we look at the statistics in three years and see, OK, if those figures have moved, that's a success? How will we actually be able to gauge that?

NICOLA ROXON: Well I think this is a challenge across the entire health system, not just for people who have mental health concerns because there haven't been good indicators and there hasn't been national data properly collected.

And one of the big reforms that was agreed to at COAG is for us to actually provide proper data and proper measurements across about 70 different areas, including those in mental health, but including infectious diseases, including hospitalisation rates, including the Indigenous, of course, life expectancy.

So I think that is an important step. We're introducing a whole range of other accountabilities like at the MyHospitals website that the Liberal Party has opposed.

These things are about improving accountability and I think we do have to acknowledge that in health terms sometimes the indicators of improvement are slow, but we can often find proxies that show us improvements. Are more people getting more services? Are people getting to the right service provider in time? Are people presenting at hospitals when they should have had care earlier?

We do have to get smarter about how we measure that, but I think using those as proxies in the interim is not a bad way to know if they're meeting the needs of the community and if we can do more.

LEIGH SALES: Nicola Roxon, Health Minister, thank you very much.

NICOLA ROXON: It's been a pleasure.


August 13, 2010

Check out these new interviews from MIFA member Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW


Shine a light! Consumers speak at candlelight vigil

Adam Gould, speaking as a consumer of mental health services, gave a fantastic address to the Get Up! Mental Health Vigil in Adelaide on August 10th.

Why don't you read it?

August 9, 2010

MIFA supports GetUp! vigils

MIFA and our member organisations would like to throw our support behind GetUp! and their upcoming candlelight vigils for better mental health services in Australia.

You can visit the GetUp! website to find out more about this initiative and how you can get involved.

March 30, 2010

Dr Joanne Nicholson visiting for Schizophrenia Awareness Week

In just over a month MIFA's international guest speaker Dr Joanne Nicholson will be touching down in Sydney to start her whirlwind tour of Australia for Schizophrenia Awareness Week.

Dr Nicholson is well-renowned researcher from the University of Massachsuetts and expert on the issue of parents with a disability and will be talking about the need for more comprehesive "whole of person" care model when working with parents.

Over the past four years, Dr Nicholson and her team have been trialling a new model of care called Family Options which encourages mental health services to cooperate with social services to provide a more comprehensive model. Already her data is showing significant quality of life improvements for participating parents.

To find out more about Dr Nicholson's visit, keep watching the Schizophrenia Awareness Week page and talk to your local MIFA member organisation.


February 8, 2010

New MIFA site launched

The brand new MIFA site was launched today after several months of intense work and deliberation.

As well as looking cleaner and making it easier to find information about MIFA and our programs, the site will eventually also host several MIFA members websites as subsites.

The MIFA members taking part in the new site project are: Mental Illness Fellowship of West Australia, Mental Illness Fellowship of South Australia, Mental Illness Fellowship of Queensland, Mental Illness Fellowship of North Queensland,Mental Health Carers Northern Territory and ARAFMI Tasmania.

Look for their sites to go online shortly.





Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia (MIFA) Copyright 2010