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                       A quarterly publication from the Mental Health Co-ordinating Council                                                       Spring 2006

                                                                                from the Peak
                       Launch of Mental Health NGO Infrastructure Grants Program
                       EXECUTIVE OFFICER REPORT
                       Jenna Bateman
                       MHCC held its AGM Day this year at the atmospheric Australian
                       Technology Park Conference Centre, Eveleigh. Participants were
                       welcomed to a full day of information, networking, AGM formalities,
                       and the launch of the Mental Health NGO Infrastructure Grants

                       Parliamentary Secretary Paul Macleay officially launched the grants
                       program which is designed to support mental health NGOs develop
                       their operational infrastructure so they are better placed to deliver
                       services and take advantage of growth opportunities.

                       This is great news for NGOs working in the mental health sector.
                       The necessary prioritising of direct service delivery to consumers       majority of stakeholders. Inconsistent and mixed messages make
                       and carers has meant NGOs frequently have little capacity left to        it difficult for decision makers. Mr McGrath urged MHCC Members
                       focus on operational matters. This new initiative will enable NGOs to    to work together to consider shared approaches and to coordinate
                       identify and address areas of their operations that they feel require    future development of the sector.
                       upgrading or development. A total of $2 million has been allocated
                       by the NSW government to the program, which will be coordinated          The NGO sector values diversity and encourages its expression
                       and managed through MHCC. An Expression of Interest process will         so balancing this with the need to provide a coherent voice to
                       be conducted over November 2006 – January 2007. Contact MHCC             government will not always be possible. However there are clearly
                       for details.                                                             many views the sector does share, particularly regarding: what
                                                                                                services and programs are lacking; what training and workforce
                       Dr Richard Matthews, Deputy Director General NSW Health and David        development is needed; what research needs doing and what
                       McGrath, Director Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol Programs also       partnerships need developing.
                       attended the MHCC AGM Day. They spoke to members about their
                       perspectives on an enhanced role for NGOs within the mental health       There is a lot to undertake in 2007. The NGO Development Strategy
                       service system. It became clear as both spoke that we are at a crucial   is entering its final year and the work undertaken up until now is
                       time nationally and at the state level in terms of focus on the NGO      beginning to bear fruit. Thanks to all those who have contributed
                       community based sector. The growing commitment to getting the mix        to the many consultations, forums, reference groups and surveys
                       right between acute and community based services is evident in the       used to inform the work. All at MHCC look forward to a very exciting
                       increased funding coming into the NGO sector in NSW.                     and productive 2007 as we continue to promote and support the
                                                                                                ongoing development of NGOs working for mental health.
                       The outcomes from models of rehabilitation and support, that have
                       been properly funded and evaluated, are enabling community based         Best wishes
                       services to realise the value of their approach and impress upon         Jenna Bateman
                       government that the mental health NGO sector is worth investing
                       in. It is clear that there is a long way to go, with many innovative
                       programs and services still not receiving adequate funding to meet
                                                                                                             ALSO IN THIS ISSUE
                       need, let alone being able to properly evaluate and promote their          Page 4                    New partnerships with GP divisions
                       activities. Introduction of the Infrastructure Grants Program is an        Page 5                   The case for community-based care
                       opportunity for organisations to undertake this kind of initiative.        Page 6              Smoking, mental illness and social justice
                                                                                                  Page 7            Changes to Medicare promote mental health
                       David McGrath in his address stressed the need for a consolidated          Page 8-9                         Welfare to work: early days
                                                                                                  Page 10              WorkChoices means No Choice for SACS
                       and consistent view across the NGO sector. For government to act
 Working for           it needs to be confident that it is representing the views of the
                                                                                                  Page 12                   NGO Development Strategy update
Mental Health
funded by NSW Health
MHCC Annual General Meeting
Networking • Experiential learning • Working together

                                                            MHCC staff and some of the
                                                            newly appointed MHCC Board at
                                                            the AGM: (left to right) Stephanie
                                                            Maraz, Jenna Bateman, Rachel
                                                            Merton, Kris Seargant, Warren Holt,
                                                            Leone Crayden, Stephen Kinkead,
                                                            Sue Sacher, Phil Nadin, Anna
                                                            Saminsky, Corinne Henderson and
                                                            Edi Condack.

                                                            Leone Crayden – MHCC
                                                            Chairperson, Paul Macleay -
                                                            Parliamentary Secretary assisting
                                                            Minister for Health, David McGrath
                                                            - Director Mental Health & Drug
                                                            & Alcohol Programs, Dr Richard
                                                            Mathews - Deputy Director
                                                            General NSW Health at the MHCC
                                                            AGM Meeting Day.

                                                            Morse and Vincent (PNG Mission),
                                                            Anne Chamberlain, Bronwyn
                                                            Howlett, Warren Holt – Mission
                                                            Australia and Janise Redford
                                                            - Catholic Healthcare

                                                            Patrick Webb – Action Foundation
                                                            for Mental Health, Tony Humphrey
                                                            – Club Speranza, Stephen
                                                            Kinkead – New Horizons

Responding to review of the Mental Health Act
Late in August 2006, the NSW Government released the
Review of the Mental Health Act, 1990: Draft Exposure Bill,
giving the sector the opportunity to make submissions.

MHCC has consulted extensively across the sector with consumers,
service providers, clinicians and legal experts, and in September,
facilitated a consultation which 45 people attended. The Hon. Dr
Brian Pezzutti, Chair of the Inquiry into Mental Health Services in
NSW in 2002, who now chairs the Implementation Task Force,
addressed the gathering and participated in the discussion groups.

In our submission, MHCC raised concerns that the Bill is to be tabled
prior to Christmas 2006. We believe this to be insufficient time for              MHCC and NCOSS consultation organisers with
the Minister and those drafting the legislation to fully consider the                       the Hon. Brian Pezzutti
many submissions they are likely to have received.
                                                                        marginalised groups such as: Indigenous and CALD people, and
We also highlighted reservations about the delay until 2007 of the      people with an intellectual disability; and that there is an absence of
release of the Review of the Forensic System, to be chaired by The      recognition of the role and rights of carers who may be under 18.
Hon. Greg James QC. In view of the many submissions already
presented concerning these matters, and the work of the Law             However, to a large extent the Bill now reflects a proper balance
Reform Committee published over the last 10 years, we suggested         between carers’ right to know and the consumer right to
that these issues should be presented to the general public before      confidentiality and privacy. Importantly the Bill has provision for
the state election.                                                     consumers to make an ‘advance directive’ and so determine who
                                                                        can make decisions on their behalf when they are acutely unwell.
MHCC’s submission expressed the community’s view that the
Draft Bill failed to adequately recognise the needs of particularly     The MHCC submission is available at

Awards roll in for MHCC Dual Diagnosis Project
The MHCC Dual Diagnosis Project has been the proud winner
of two prestigious awards in the past few months.

At this year’s THEMHS Conference held at the end of August in
Townsville, the MHCC was presented with a Gold Achievement
Award for the Dual Diagnosis Project – Supporting Children and
Families Affected by Parental Dual Diagnosis (Mental Illness and
Substance Use). The Hon Tony Abbott, MP, the Federal Minister for
Health and Ageing presented the award which deemed the project
to be an exceptional contribution to mental health services under
the category for the best Mental Illness Prevention Project. The
Project was a successful partnership between MHCC and the NSW
Department of Community Services (DoCS).

Most recently the project was nominated for a NSW Premier’s
Public Service Award in the Service Delivery category, of which we
received a commendation.                                                         Jenna Bateman accepts award from Tony Abbott,
                                                                                      Federal Minister for Health & Ageing.
The Dual Diagnosis Support Kit was launched on 6 February 2006          child protection and health services in NSW. The Support Kit forms
and is available to support families affected by parental dual
                                                                        part of a comprehensive approach to educating workers and carers
diagnosis across NSW. The Kit is the result of over two years work by
                                                                        about parental dual diagnosis, and compliments a series of training
the National Illicit Drug Strategy Dual Diagnosis Project – a project
                                                                        packages available to NGOs and carer groups.
funded by the Australian Government through the Department of
Family and Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FACSIA).
The Dual Diagnosis Project was developed in recognition of the          The Dual Diagnosis Support Kit can be ordered or downloaded
growing numbers of children affected by parental dual diagnosis in      via the DoCS website

                New partnerships with GP divisions
MHCC was invited to present on “Partnerships and
Possibilities” by the NSW peak body for divisions of general
practice, the Alliance of NSW Divisions (ANSWD) in October.
In attendance were representatives from 30 of the 37 NSW
divisions, plus Area Health Service staff.

There are many similarities between divisions of general practice
and NGOs, including their core business to improve health within
their communities, and having limited resources to do this. Working
together can help build the capacity of all partners to improve
services for consumers and carers.

Funding opportunities, like the headspace program currently being
                                                                                    Rachel Merton, MHCC’s new Policy Officer
advertised, are increasingly being offered to consortia of local
services rather than single agencies, so NGOs and divisions may
be better able to secure funding by working together. Similarly,        MHCC’s new policy officer, Rachel Merton, has taken on the area
advocacy, local planning, submissions to local MPs, etc, can be         of GP engagement, and would welcome any ideas from you about
strengthened through partnerships.                                      working with GPs and divisions or any suggestions for how MHCC
                                                                        could help you with partnership development. Rachel comes to
We know there are some good examples of GPs and NGOs working            MHCC from 10 years working in divisions of general practice, so is
together in NSW, but these are ad hoc, and there is no consistent       very familiar with the environment in which they work. To contact
way of showcasing what’s being done and apply it elsewhere.             Rachel phone MHCC or email

     Rural and remote areas gain funding boost
Selected agencies in rural and remote areas will be invited             to deliver services to the target population, and will seek funding
to submit funding proposals to deliver allied mental health             proposals from them to deliver services in identified locations. The
services under the Better Access to Mental Health Care                  first phase will involve funding rural and remote areas where service
initiative announced on 9 October.                                      gaps have been identified but where there is existing infrastructure.
                                                                        It is likely this includes those areas with existing Better Outcomes
This initiative is one component of the Federal Government’s COAG       in Mental Health and/or More Allied Health Services (MAHS)
Mental Health reform package, and aims to provide more direct           programs.
services to Government-identified areas of need. Services to be
funded include social workers, psychologists, mental health nurses,     This scheme will complement the other aspects of Better Access to
occupational therapists and Aboriginal health workers.                  Mental Health Care, although it only partly addresses the concern
                                                                        that the new Medicare items will have limited impact for people
There is not much detail available regarding the scheme, but we are     in regional and rural areas where there is a shortage of GPs,
advised that the Government will identify organisations that are able   psychiatrists, and allied health providers.

   Mind Matters award for research project
MHCC received a “Mental Health Mind Matters Award” from the
Mental Health Association for the research project “Reframing
Responses”. The award was presented at the official launch of
Mental Health Week by The Governor, Her Excellency Professor Marie
Bashir and The Minister for Health, the Hon John Hatzistergos.

The “Reframing Responses” project aims to enhance the capacity
of non-government organisations (NGOs) to provide services to adult
survivors of childhood sexual abuse (CSA), by evaluating existing
service delivery and to develop an understanding of safety issues
and models of care and to identify gaps, inequalities and barriers
to access. The project focused on linking and sharing strategies
between a range of NGO service providers. The research report and       Dr. Louise O’Brien, UWS and Corinne Henderson, MHCC (at centre)
recommendations and literature review are both available on the         accept the award from John Hatzistergos, Minister for Health and
website at                                                                  The Governor Marie Bashir.

 The case for community-based care
Our mental health system is failing, so what should we do? The most common response is for
more psychiatric hospital beds - but is this really the answer? On the contrary, evidence shows that
the answer lies not in isolating people; for most, it lies in active participation in the community and
community support.
                                                                            helplessness, and at times, fear for their own safety or that of those
   Members will be aware that MHCC has publicly                             around them.
   voiced its opposition to the re-establishment of
   large institutions, in particular the NSW Opposition’s                   Respite for carers can be achieved outside the hospital system.
   proposal to establish a 400-bed facility at Rozelle                      Timely intervention and support should provide carers with time,
   Hospital. This article aims to clarify why MHCC has                      space, and peace of mind. Enough community-based supported
   taken this position.                                                     accommodation places should be available for consumers who
                                                                            cannot live at home, either for a short or extended time; places
                                                                            where they can feel welcome and safe, and where realistic linkages
Not surprisingly, the general public has lost confidence in the             to the community may be achieved.
community approach because it has been done poorly, and the
shifting of demand from hospital to community has not been
                                                                            In Manukau, New Zealand, access to services has increased by 55%
planned or resourced properly. But, now is not the time to go back
                                                                            since 200. Three quarters of all funded services are community-
to institutions. Community support is the right approach – it just
                                                                            based, and 1% of total expenditure is on NGOs. Emphasis is
needs to be better planned and resourced, with closer links to the
                                                                            on planned, coordinated care, focusing on social inclusion, active
hospital system.
                                                                            involvement of people in their recovery, and personalisation of
                                                                            services to meet need.
        “25 years of de-institutionalisation has
                                                                            In NSW, significant improvements in clients’ quality of life, community
       not been backed up with nearly enough                                participation and mental health have been demonstrated by the
                    community services. “                                   Housing and Accommodation Support Initiative (HASI). Participating
                                                                            agencies provide a range of services meet the clients’ needs in the
                                                                            community. Importantly, it is indicating a massive 90% decrease
Consistently, studies show that consumers provided with well-
                                                                            in demand for acute hospital services, and the ‘revolving door’
planned, comprehensive support in the community have a better
                                                                            phenomenon has all but disappeared.
quality of life and develop an improved level of functioning.

De-institutionalisation has strong momentum internationally,                        “Our mental health system can provide
and experts are consistent in supporting community-based care                         a quality service, but we need more
complemented by hospital beds for acute care as required. The
World Health Organization, for example, recommends shifting care                   investment, and better linkages between
away from psychiatric hospitals, developing community mental                                hospitals and community.”
health services; and integrating mental health services into general
health care.                                                                Our mental health system can provide a quality service, but we
                                                                            need more investment, and better linkages between hospitals
What this means in practice is a network of services in the                 and community. Over the last decade, government spending on
community to address each person’s ‘whole of life’ needs, which             mental health has been less than 7% of the total health budget
vary considerably. These include supported residential services,            when it needed to be at least 12% annually. The proportion spent
vocational rehabilitation agencies, community centres providing             on community-based agencies, currently less than 5%, needs to
social and recreational activities and linking clients to other services,   double to at least 15% to meet the demand.
respite and other support for carers, information and education. We
have this system now in Australia, but it has nowhere near enough           People must have the opportunity to be not just patients, but
resources to meet demand.                                                   individuals with complex lives and needs. Participation in
                                                                            society improves mental health, self-determination, and general
25 years of de-institutionalisation has not been backed up with             functioning. On a broader social level, it reduces discrimination and
nearly enough community services. One outcome is a ‘revolving               stigmatisation, both essential to achieving and maintaining good
door’ phenomenon, where people are treated in hospital, discharged          mental health.
with inadequate support, become unwell, and return to hospital
again, in an ongoing cycle. Meanwhile, their families and friends           Full article with references is available on the MHCC website
are under pressure to fill the gaps in necessary care. Carers are
at risk of mental health problems, as they experience anxiety, guilt,

    Smoking, mental illness and social justice
Although smoking has declined over the past thirty years,                For the mentally ill, the situation is even more problematic. The
smoking remains the biggest single cause of illness and                  interactions between smoking and mental illness are complex
preventable death in NSW. And it is disadvantaged and                    and we need to know more about them. Nicotine is thought to
vulnerable groups, such as people with a mental illness, who             provide relief for some psychiatric symptoms and this can cause
are more likely to smoke and who bear a disproportionate                 uncertainty or ambivalence about quitting. Some social service
share of the burden of suffering, sickness and death caused              workers, understandably, may feel that smoking is a minor matter,
by smoking. Three aspects highlight smoking as a social                  especially when compared with homelessness, violence or chronic
justice issue: the prevalence of smoking; the impacts of                 mental illness, not withholding the fact that its long-term effects can
smoking; and the question of choice.                                     be at least as severe. They may also assume that their service users
                                                                         are not concerned about their smoking or motivated to stop. Despite
Rates of smoking                                                         all these circumstances there is consistent evidence that those with
                                                                         a mental illness are as interested in quitting as other people. For
While overall smoking rates are around 20% they are much higher
                                                                         example, the Tobacco and Mental Illness project in South Australia
for the more disadvantaged. Smoking rates for the unemployed are
                                                                         found nearly half (48%) of people interviewed worried about their
nearly 0 percent and more than 45 percent for single parents. The
                                                                         smoking and wanted help to stop.
general smoking rate for Aboriginal people is around 50 percent.
High, those these rates are, they are much higher for people with
a mental illness.                                                        Tobacco Control and Social Equity Strategy
                                                                         The Cancer Council NSW believes that smoking represents a
Smoking among all people with mental illness is estimated to be          fundamental social justice issue. We believe it is unfair for those
70-80 percent and up to a staggering 90 percent for people with          who are already vulnerable to bear the additional burden of disease,
schizophrenia. In addition, people with a mental illness smoke more      suffering and death from tobacco. Consequently we have developed
heavily than other groups. In the US the mentally ill are estimated      a new initiative, the Tobacco Control and Social Equity Strategy,
to buy nearly half of all cigarettes sold. There is also evidence that   aimed at reducing smoking related harm amongst disadvantaged
tobacco companies deliberately exploit vulnerable groups, including      groups in NSW.
people with a mental illness, with strategies to introduce them to, or
maintain, their smoking.
                                                                         What is the Strategy and How Will it Work?
Impacts of smoking                                                       The focus of the Strategy is to work with community service
                                                                         agencies, such as the Mental Health Coordinating Council and its
Each year in Australia around 19 000 people die of smoking related       members, to address the problems of tobacco amongst our most
causes. Long-term adult smokers lose an average of 1-14 years of        vulnerable citizens. The Strategy will have different elements
life. Smoking is a leading cause of chronic diseases such as cancer      including: building awareness and understanding of smoking
(of the lung, esophageus, bladder and kidney), heart disease, stroke     risks; developing case work tools and resources to assist people
and cardiovascular disease. It also increases the risk of vision and     to quit smoking; trialling smoking cessation projects; changing
hearing loss, reduced fertility and impotence. All this produces
                                                                         social environments to make it easier for people to resist smoking,
enormous pain and suffering to individuals and families through
                                                                         and; influencing legislation and policy that effects smoking e.g.
death or the erosion of quality of life.
                                                                         affordability of Nicotine Replacement Therapy. The Cancer Council
                                                                         NSW is also commissioning a literature review to better understand
Smoking also exacts a heavy financial toll. It contributes to poverty    the interactions between smoking, medications and mental illness
by channelling scarce income into tobacco. It limits funds for           so these issues can be well addressed in the Strategy.
essentials such as food, clothes and housing. In Australian research,
households that smoke are three times more likely to report
                                                                         As an early step we are planning to hold a workshop in cooperation
deprivations like “going without meals” or “being unable to heat the
                                                                         with the MHCC as part of their “Count me in” Conference in March
home” than non-smoking households.
                                                                         next year to outline the Strategy and hear feedback from the sector.
                                                                         This will help determine potential pitfalls as well as what sort of
The question of choice                                                   approaches and resources will be most useful to assist workers and
Some argue that smoking is a matter of personal choice. But we           services to address the issue of tobacco and better support service
recognise that many factors affect a persons’ capacity to make           users who want to quit smoking.
an informed and free choice. The vast majority of Australian
smokers (90%) began smoking as teenagers and so were unlikely
to be fully aware of the consequences of smoking at the time. We                                   If you would like to know more about
know that nicotine is powerfully addictive- as addictive as heroin.                                the Tobacco Control and Social Equity
The fact that nearly 80% of smokers have tried to quit but have                                    Strategy please contact Jon O’Brien
been unsuccessful demonstrates the strength of the dependence                                      at The NSW Cancer Council on
that smoking induces. The easy availability of tobacco and having                                  (02) 94 1848 or
friends or family around you who smoke also effects smoking                                        E-mail
behaviour and the chances of quitting.

              Changes to Medicare promote
            a team approach to mental health
A team approach to mental health care, encouraging GPs, psychiatrists, psychologists, and other allied mental health
professionals to work together, is at the heart of the Federal Government’s new initiative, Better Access to Psychiatrists,
Psychologists and General Practitioners through the Medicare Benefits Schedule, at a cost of $538m over five years.

This initiative is one of the most fundamental changes ever made to
Medicare, and hopefully should see more affordable and accessible
mental health services. It has significantly increased the number
of mental health professionals that consumers can access, and
should make it easier for people to access private services in the

A series of new Medicare items will be introduced on 1 November
2006. These new items will replace the existing  Step GP Mental
Health Process items (Assess, Plan, and Review) and the Service
Incentive Payment payable at the completion of the process, under               billing processes, so consumers may need to pay up front and then
the Better Outcomes in Mental Health Care Program.                              claim the rebate from Medicare. Any out of pocket expenses will
                                                                                count towards their Medicare safety net eligibility. Consumers are
New Medicare items for GPs                                                      advised to check payment details prior to their appointment.

There are three new GP Mental Health Care items:
                                                                                Generally for access to Division-run ATAPS programs, the cost is free
(1) Preparation of a GP Mental Health Care Plan, which enables
                                                                                or minimal. Check with your local Division of General Practice.
     referral of patients to psychiatrists, psychologists, other GPs
     (for focused psychological strategies) or to allied mental health
     professionals. Generally each patient is entitled to one plan              What services can consumers access?
     unless a second is clinically required.
                                                                               Under the new initiative where Medicare funds the services, the
(2) Review of a GP Mental Health Care Plan, to review progress
                                                                               following professionals can apply to become eligible providers and
     against the Plan’s goals, held one to six months after the GP
                                                                               register with Medicare Australia: clinical psychologists, registered
     Mental Health Care Plan
                                                                                                 psychologists, social workers, and occupational
() GP Mental Health Care Consultation, which is
                                                                                                 therapists. From July 2007, mental health nurses
     essentially a long consultation for ongoing             “It has     significantly           will able to provide services under a similar
     management of a mental health problem.
                                                         increased the number of
Mental Health Care Plan                                mental health professionals     The Australian and New Zealand College of Mental
Consumers who have a GP Mental Health Care                  that consumers can         Health Nurses is “enormously concerned” about
Plan can access mental health services through                                         the exclusion of qualified mental health nurses,
Medicare via a GP referral to an eligible provider
                                                  access, and should make it and sees it as a slap in the face for a profession
as follows.                                       easier for people to access that has advanced training in mental health care.
                                                                                       A clear rationale for the decision has not yet come
                                                      private services …”              from the Government, but the College suspects
• Up to 12 sessions per calendar year (in two
                                                                                       it is due to workforce issues and the potential
  groups of up to six services) for individual
                                                                                       strain on the public system. In contrast, the
  services provided by psychologists, GPs, and/or other allied
                                                                    College sees it as lowering morale, and would prefer to see a range
  mental health professionals (see below); or
                                                                    of career options available to its members to make mental health
• Up to 12 sessions under the existing Access to Allied
                                                                    nursing as attractive as possible. The College is taking this up with
  Psychological Services (ATAPS) programs available through
                                                                    the Government.
  Divisions of General Practice.
• As well as individual services, consumers can access up to 12
  sessions per calendar year of group services.                     Under the existing Division-run ATAPS programs, the following
                                                                    professionals can apply to become eligible providers: clinical
                                                                    psychologists, registered psychologists, social workers, occupational
How much does it cost?
                                                                    therapists, Aboriginal health workers, and mental health nurses.
Under Medicare services, the service provider is paid by Medicare;
however, they may charge the consumer more than the set rebate,                 More detailed information is available at or by
so consumers may have out of pocket expenses for each session.                  calling Medicare Australia on 12 150 (for practitioners) or 12 011
Also, most allied health providers do not have bulk billing or online           (for patients or carers).

          Welfare-to-Work: early days
A re-cap of the changes:                                                    The Job Capacity Assessment process seems to be causing
                                                                            considerable difficulties for agencies, with reports of the system
The Australian Government introduced significant changes to                 now being more complex, fragmented, and punctuated with
welfare policy on 1 July. People who apply for income support are           inconsistencies, duplication, and delays for consumers in accessing
now required to complete a Job Capacity Assessment to gauge their           payments. Private contractors have taken on the role of doing the
capacity for work, and if they are assessed as being able to work 15        assessments, and the standard of assessments varies enormously.
or more hours per week, they will not be eligible for the Disability
Support Pension (DSP). Instead, they may receive an Allowance level
income support payment, which, depending on their circumstances,                    “The successful implementation of the
could be Newstart, Youth Allowance, or Austudy. It is estimated this
                                                                                 assessment relies on the competence and
will save the Government about $800m over the first three years.
                                                                                 skill of the assessor, and there is no quality
These payments are lower than the DSP, and recipients are required                       control to ensure consistency.”
to undertake job search activities. The National Centre for Social
and Economic Modelling estimates that people with disabilities
assessed as being able to work 15 or more hours per week, and               The successful implementation of the assessment relies on the
who are unemployed, will receive $45 per week less than under               competence and skill of the assessor, and there is no quality control
the previous system. Full time students with disabilities will be           to ensure consistency. As one specialist DEN provider put it: “Some
$110 - $165 worse off per week, taking into account the loss of rent        Job Capacity Assessors are doing a great job, but it’s a lucky dip!”
assistance and Pensioner Education Supplement.                              Where an assessment has been poorly conducted, the resultant
                                                                            referrals can be inappropriate or wrong.
There is also a tough new compliance and penalty system, which
applies the suspension of payment for 8 weeks for a “serious”               There have been concerns from the outset about the appropriateness
breach of the rules - including refusing a job offer or leaving a job.      of the assessment tool for mental health consumers.
Three less “serious” breaches will likewise see payments cut off for
8 weeks, regardless of whether the person subsequently complies.            The National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum has
                                                                            identified a “unique set of dynamics” that people living with mental
According to Senate Estimates, about 18,000 people a year are               illness face in the workplace.1
expected to lose their benefit for 8 weeks for breaching job search         • the episodic nature of many mental illnesses;
rules, and between 4000 and 5000 deemed the most vulnerable will            • the diversity of mental illness diagnoses;
be eligible for financial case management.                                  • the specific impact of a diagnosis upon the individual;
                                                                            • the possibility, dynamics and ramifications of a partial or full
Financial case management involves charities and other community                 relapse into an individual's particular diagnosis;
based organisations providing financial counselling and managing            • an assessor's knowledge base, qualifications and familiarity
the finances of each eligible person cut off from payments. The                  with the unique set of dynamics that apply to an individual living
Government pays these organisations $650 to assess the person’s                  with a mental illness (cognitive functioning / impairment, issues
essential expenses and notify Centrelink, which would pay the bills.             of stigma, required levels of employment support in situ, etc);
                                                                            • the accessibility to Workcover for people living with a pre-
Up to 50 organisations have signed up to provide this service,                   existing mental illness: and
although we have been unable to identify most of these services.            • the impact and side effect(s) of certain medications upon the
Most of the large religious charities have refused to take part. John            consumer.
Falzon from St Vincent de Paul has said that the obligation for a
person stripped of their benefits to turn to a charity for financial case   Agency staff also cited problems with the administration of the tool
management effectively “institutionalises” a process of making              and its appropriateness. First, there is the issue of privacy and the
people feel they are only deserving of charity rather than justice.         new process of sharing information. In the past, much sensitive
                                                                            health information was not disclosed outside of Centrelink, but
Because of the lack of support for the program by the large charities,      under the new scheme, this information may be shared among a
Centrelink officers will have to take on this role in most areas.           number of agencies.

Feedback so far                                                             It is likely that many consumers will simply not disclose sensitive
                                                                            personal information about their health or other barriers to
MHCC spoke to Disability Employment Network (DEN) agency staff
                                                                            employment for this reason, particularly in small communities.
and consumer coordinators about their experience of the changes
in the first three months of Welfare to Work. The main feedback is
outlined here.                                                              1, accessed 16
                                                                                October 2006

This effectively places these people at particular risk of ending        the welfare to work legislation is the biggest attack on the rights and
up on the wrong payment, or being placed in jobs that are beyond         welfare of people with disability in our history.
their capacity, which in turn places them at risk of breaching their
obligations and being penalised. MHCC received no reports of             Major charities refuse financial case
people having been stripped of their payments for “breaches”.            management funds
                                                                         In the Autumn issue of View from the Peak, we reported that the
                                                                         St Vincent de Paul Society had refused funding for the Welfare-to-
                                                                         Work compliance scheme, labelling it “immoral and unjust”. Since
                                                                         then, almost all major charities have remained at arms’ length, with
                                                                         Catholic Social Services Australia and Anglicare pulling out in mid-
                                                                         August after some of their agencies had initially signed on, and the
                                                                         Salvation Army publicly announcing it will not take part.

                                                                         Catholic Social Services executive director, Frank Quinlan, was
                                                                         reportedly outraged to hear that the typical person who could lose
                                                                         their benefits was a mentally ill parent on medication. He asks:
                                                                         “How on earth could we be contemplating a system that sees [this
                                                                         person] suspended from income support for eight weeks?” He said
                                                                         his organisation did not believe that vulnerable people would be
                                                                         adequately protected. The Salvos’ spokesperson, Major Brad Halse
                                                                         said they had “a number of concerns”, particularly with reference
                                                                         to vulnerable people, and emphasised that the Salvos’ view stems
                                                                         from their long-term practical experience of working with the
Double whammy - Welfare to Work & WorkChoices
                                                                         Hillsong Emerge, the welfare arm of Hillsong Church, remains the
The impact of Welfare to Work becomes more concerning when               biggest religious-based non-government provider of financial case
it is considered alongside the WorkChoices legislation, and many         management services to unemployed people, although it has said it
have seen this as a double whammy on particularly vulnerable             will monitor the financial case management program and its impact
members of our community. In fact, the combination may lead to           on clients to decide on whether to continue participating.
an Australian version of the US-style “working poor”, as the most
vulnerable employees will be forced into jobs with minimum pay
and conditions.                                                          What should MHCC be doing?
Professor Terry Carney from the University of Sydney’s Law Faculty,      MHCC is keen to receive feedback from members about what we
states that the combined effect of the two sets of legislation           could be doing. Examples provided to us so far include:
effectively “degrades the conditions of the most vulnerable              • Provide feedback from consumers and agencies to the
welfare clients, whether they are in work (on reduced employment             Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR)
conditions) or on welfare (on less generous benefits)”.2                     and make recommendations for changes to the legislation to
                                                                             make it fairer for people living with a mental illness;
Dr Falzon, too, has made this connection, suggesting that the            • Lobby for a measure of quality to be incorporated in the
obligations placed on employees under some Australian workplace              assessment process;
agreements may mean, for example, that a single mother may not           • Bring to DEWR’s attention examples that may be unfair or
be able to fulfil her work obligations due to caring responsibilities,       discriminatory to people living with a mental illness;
but if she voluntarily leaves her job or refuses to take on a new job,   • Hold a forum for consumers with industry experts to provide
she may be “breached” and lose her income for eight weeks. Bev               information and answer questions;
Kilger of VCOSS suggests: “If they find jobs at all, they will almost    • Run local groups with consumers around some of the key
certainly be low paid, insecure and casualised—the very jobs which           issues.
will have lost most of their protection under the government’s
industrial relations changes.”                                           Please contact MHCC on if you have further ideas
                                                                         or suggestions.
Australian Federation of Disability Organisations chief executive
Maryanne Diamond said: “Together with the industrial relations bill,     For more information: ACOSS, Welfare to Work - effects and

2    Carney, T, “Welfare to Work: Or Work Discipline Revisited”, in      National Welfare Rights Network - info package: www.welfarerights.
     Australian Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 41, pp. 27-48, 2006

WorkChoices means No Choice for SACS
On 7 November, MHCC attended the Social and Community Services Industry Industrial Relations Summit, addressed by
representatives of NCOSS, ASU and the NSW Minister for Community Services, Reba Meagher. The Summit heard the key
findings of the Industry Taskforce that has just completed its inquiry into the impact of WorkChoices on the NSW social and
community services sector. The Taskforce examined the impact of WorkChoices on the delivery and quality of services;
employment conditions; and workforce recruitment, skill, and retention; as well as the effect of WorkChoices’ interaction with
other government funding policies.

The main points highlighted by the presenters included:
• Agency confusion about whether WorkChoices applies to
    them, especially the question of whether they are defined as a
    constitutional corporation;
• The potential to split the sector which is now characterised
    by unity. Division will weaken our ability to bargain jointly for
    funding increases;
• The removal of the level playing field within the sector;
• The potential for agencies to lower staff costs to become more
    successful in tendering for contracts, and the flow-on effect
    throughout the sector;
• Potential reduction in salaries and conditions over time,
    undermining the sector’s ability to attract and retain quality,
    skilled staff;
• Low job security with the removal of unfair dismissal and
    increased casualisation;
• Increased community demand for services, especially for
    emergency relief; and
• The combination of all the above leading to reduced quality in
    service provision.
• In rural and regional areas, these problems are escalated by
    higher service provision costs and a smaller pool of skilled
    employees.                                                          A solution? Sign a Referral Agreement
                                                                        The Minister drew participants’ attention to the March 2006
There was concern that unscrupulous employers will exploit staff,       amendment to the NSW Industrial Relations Act, Section 146A,
compounded by the combination of this legislation and Welfare-          allowing employers and employees to sign a “Referral Agreement”.
to-Work. Under Welfare-to-Work, the most vulnerable people have         This enables them to have their industrial matters dealt with in
little choice but to accept employment contracts, which, under          the NSW State Industrial system, even if they are a constitutional
WorkChoices, only have to meet bare minimum working conditions.         corporation and would otherwise fall under the Federal WorkChoices

The Taskforce’s six recommendations to the NSW
government are (in summary):                                            This was strongly endorsed by the ASU, and they have produced
                                                                        an information package and generic Referral Agreement for
•   Ensure that organisations and employees continue to be subject      use by agencies. Over 60 organisations have already signed an
    to the NSW industrial relations system;                             Agreement, mainly local councils. The ASU’s generic Agreement
•   Monitor the impact of WorkChoices in the sector;                    also ties employee conditions to those currently existing in the
•   Monitor the sector’s ability to attract workers and enable growth   agency (generally the SACS Award or an Enterprise Agreement). This
    and economic stability;                                             effectively maintains the potential for sector unity when negotiating
•   Review funding criteria to ensure no competitive disadvantage       conditions in the future, and keeps alive the plans to re-open the
    between agencies;                                                   case to introduce SACS Award levels 7 and 8. Referral Agreements
•   Maintain levels of funding in real terms to ensure service          must be signed on behalf of both the board and staff, and remain
    delivery is protected and expanded;                                 in force regardless of board or staff turnover for the agreed term,
•   Support the sector’s appeal to the Federal Government not           generally three years. They are lodged with the NSW Industrial
    to tie funding to the adoption of WorkChoices or individual         Relations Commission. There is no cost involved.
                                                                        For more information, or to request a visit to your organisation to
The Taskforce’s report has been submitted to the NSW government,        meet management and staff, contact the ASU on ph 910 4000 or
and will be available shortly.                                          100 784 278 (outside Sydney).

     Increase to Minimum Wage
The Australian Fair Pay Commission has announced a significant         welfare groups. ACOSS called it a step in the right direction, but said
increase in the Federal Minimum Wage (FMW). There are three            people reliant on minimum wages need more Government support
parts to the decision:                                                 to get out of the cycle of low paid unskilled work and welfare. The
• an increase of $27.6 per week in the standard FMW;                  ACTU welcomed the news, calling it a victory for unions and workers.
• an increase of $27.6 per week in all Pay Scales up to and           But Unions NSW was not so supportive, saying it is not as good as it
    including $700 per week; and                                       looks, with interest rates having risen three times and petrol prices
• an increase of $22.04 per week in all Pay Scales above $700          having skyrocketed since the last pay rise 18 months ago.
    per week.

The increases will flow on to junior employees, employees to whom
                                                                            “ACOSS called it a step in the right direction,
training arrangements apply and employees with disability. They          but said people reliant on minimum wages need
will take effect from 1 December 2006. The Commission will deliver
its next general wage-setting decision in mid 2007. In relation to       more Government support to get out of the cycle
employees with disability, the Commission will establish a new
special FMW - equal to the standard FMW - for employees whose
                                                                               of low paid unskilled work and welfare.”
disability has no effect on their productive capacity.
                                                                       The full decision can be read at
The news was greeted with reserved enthusiasm by the major social

 School-Link promoting mental health care
Schools are key settings for promoting mental                          with specialist child and adolescent mental health services to
                                                                       improve mental health outcomes for adolescents and their families.
health, preventing the development of mental                           The NSW School-Link Training Program, an integral part of School-
                                                                       Link, is a state-wide training program developed for school and TAFE
health problems and providing opportunities for                        counsellors and adolescent mental health workers, psychologists
                                                                       from NSW Department of Community Services, Juvenile Justice and
early intervention and support for children and                        drug and alcohol workers.
young people who have mental health problems.
                                                                       Since 1999, four Phases of School-Link training have been developed
                                                                       and delivered to approximately 2000 clinicians in NSW. Phase 1, a
The National Survey of the Mental Health of Young People in
                                                                       three day course, presents new developments in the assessment
Australia reported that mental illnesses such as depression and
                                                                       and management of adolescent depression and related disorders.
related disorders, substance abuse, first onset psychosis and
                                                                       Phase 2, a one-day course, builds on the skills and knowledge
anxiety disorders pose a significant problem for adolescents and
                                                                       developed in Phase 1 training and focuses on the assessment
their families. Recent research suggests that up to 24 percent of
                                                                       and management of self-harm in adolescents. Phase , a two-day
adolescents experience depression by the time they are 18 years old,
                                                                       course addresses mental distress and well-being in Aboriginal and
however only one in four of these young people receives professional
                                                                       same sex attracted young people and young people from culturally
help. The National Survey found that in the adolescent age group
                                                                       and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, and Phase 4 training,
this help is most commonly provided through counselling at school.
                                                                       currently being delivered, addresses coexisting mental disorder
This is consistent with international surveys that emphasise the
                                                                       and problematic substance use in adolescents. Further Phases
key role of school-based services in providing help for children
                                                                       of School-Link Training have been proposed: Phase 5 proposes
and adolescents with mental health problems. For this reason it is
                                                                       to address anxiety in children and adolescents and Phase 6 will
important to ensure that school and TAFE counsellors are suitably
                                                                       address management of the psychological sequelae of trauma. All
trained in the assessment and management of young people’s
                                                                       Phases of School-Link Training are repeated at least annually so
mental health and that they are closely linked to specialised child
                                                                       new clinicians, or clinicians who missed out on previous Phases of
and adolescent mental health services.
                                                                       training, may attend.

School-Link is a groundbreaking approach to improving mental
                                                                       If you require any further information on School-Link Training
health care for young people. A collaborative initiative between the
                                                                       contact Rob McAlpine, NSW Department of Education and Training,
NSW Department of Health and the NSW Department of Education
                                                                       on 0429 846158 or Anthony Hillin, NSW Institute of Psychiatry, on
and Training, School-Link aims to link school and TAFE counsellors
                                                                       048 972449

                                         “Rehabilitation for Recovery”:
NGO Development Strategy
                               Establishment of The MHCC Learning & Development Unit

                                                  Tina Smith, MHCC presenting the first Learning and Development, Rehabilitation for Recovery pilot

                           The development of enhanced training services to be offered by the         •   Orientation to mental health work................................ 2 days
                           MHCC Learning & Development Unit is well underway! The MHCC                •   Provide support services to clients &
                           has received a funding commitment from NSW Health to subsidise             •   Provide non-clinical services to people
                           the establishment of training services. We are most appreciative of            with mental health issues............................................ 4 days
                           this support as well as the ongoing recognition of the workforce           •   Work within a legal & ethical framework ..................... 1 day
                           development/training needs of mental health NGOs.                          •   Provide, with consumers, support interventions
                                                                                                          to meet the needs of carers & families ........................ 2 days
                           The goal of MHCC’s Learning and Development Unit is to make                •   Assess & respond to individuals at risk of
                           available suitable training to help build clear career pathways                self-harm or suicide .................................................... 2 days
                           for workers within the NGO mental health sector. It will offer             •   Assist with self medication .......................................... 1 day
                           accessible and relevant training for workers at all levels and in all
                           areas of service provision across the sector, equipping people to          Piloting of “Rehabilitation for Recovery” commenced 0 October
                           most effectively work in their current roles as well as to gain skills     with Catholic Community Healthcare who provide aged, disabled
                           to move into new roles if desired. The training offered will also          & homeless programs across NSW. A second pilot commenced 8
                           provide valuable mental health education for workers in the wider          November with Paramatta Mission who provide a diverse range of
                           community sector. Courses offered will include the Certificate IV          mental health services in the Western Sydney area (eg, Lifeline, day
                           in Mental Health Work (Non-clinical) and a variety of targeted short       programs, HASI & other accommodation support services).
                           courses (both accredited and non accredited).
                                                                                                      “Rehabilitation for Recovery” course/s will be made available
                           The first training package to be developed is “Rehabilitation for          across the NSW community sector from early 2007 and there will be
                           Recovery”. This face-to-face course targets workers in mental              a focus on delivering the course in regional, rural and remote NSW.
                           health NGOs that are new to the sector or do not have mental
                           health specific training as well as workers from other community           While developing the various learning and assessment strategies
                           organisations who wish to better address the needs of people with          & materials described above we have also been working closely
                           mental health problems and disorders.                                      with “RTO Support” who are helping us to become a Registered
                                                                                                      Training Organisation (RTO). This has involved the development of
                           “Rehabilitation for Recovery” has also been developed in response          numerous finance and administrative systems as well as conducting
                           to the proposed voluntary minimum training standard that has been          an internal self evaluation as required under the Australian Quality
                           supported in-principle by mental health NGOs. It is mapped to 7 of         Training Framework (AQTF) standards. Our application to become an
                           the 14 units of competence required to achieve the Certificate IV in       RTO will be submitted to the NSW Vocational Education & Training
                           Mental Health Work as follows:                                             Accreditation Board (VETAB) in early November.

Should NGOs systematically monitor consumer recovery?

                                                                                                                                                    NGO Development Strategy
State-wide Consumer Consultation: Results
Key findings:
• Consumers value NGOs in their recovery journey
• NGOs are valued because of their distinctiveness and
• Consumers support outcome monitoring in NGOs
• Consumers very much value self-assessment using consumer-
    completed outcome tools.

Held September 29th, MHCC’s consultation discussed the use of
socially oriented and program-relevant routine consumer outcome
measurement (RCOM) by NGOs. Held at the Rozelle Hospital
Conference Centre, consumers provided clear consent for this
direction and the day gave us advice for a clear path forward.
                                                                           The Outcomes Through NGOs team: Students - Marika Burgess,
In all, 2 consumers from 19 NGOs were present. Consumer leaders,            Melissa Kym & Consultant to MHCC, Jonine Penrose-Wall,
founders of NGOs and consumer board of management members                                         JPW Results
were well represented but only 2% of participants were service
users of NGOs.                                                            comment on the topic by completing the Questions in Advance
                                                                          booklet which we have kept on the Website for an ongoing dialogue
Small and larger group discussions elicited interesting thoughts on       with interested consumers. Two consumers will be appointed to the
the topic, not elsewhere canvassed by the outcomes literature and         Expert Reference Group for the program.
previous national or state consultations. Most notably consumers
favored outcome measurement in principle, however reported that           For any further information, please contact us on project@mhcc.
the tools used by NGOs should focus on what consumers value as   or
important to their own recovery.

                                                                           Free (to NGOs) Quality Management Consulting services provided
We will be continuing to seek consumer response through
                                                                           by MHCC to NGO Members have had good uptake so far.
redistributing some questions to consumers that were covered at
                                                                           Consultant, Jonine Penrose-Wall wishes to thank NGOs for being
the consultation. In addition to this we will be conducting site visits
                                                                           so willing to share information about their needs, expertise and
to member NGOs to discuss the organisational perspective on the
                                                                           views in relation to RCOM in their programs. Site Visits continue
topic. Please see the full report on the MHCC website. Consumers
                                                                           to 15 December. To book a visit please phone 0409 741414
who are service users within NGOs may continue to provide

Mental health work qualifications under review
The MHCC is working in partnership with the NSW Community                 Training Package was under review it was a challenge to get input
Services & Health Industry Training Advisory Board (ITAB) to              regarding the needs of people with mental health problems and
develop and promote a range of mental health work training                disorders but that this topic was clearly high on the priority list for
initiatives.                                                              all community services now!

On 25 October we jointly convened an industry forum to consider the       Participants were encouraged to provide comment as to their
review of the Community Services Training Package (CHC02) and             current and future training needs for mental health work vocational
Mental Health Work qualification/s being conducted by the national        outcomes. The need for the Mental Health Work qualification/s to
Community Services & Health Industry Skills Council.                      better reflect consumer-focused and evidenced-based practice
                                                                          in psychosocial rehabilitation and recovery was the key topic
About 25 people attended the forum with representation being              of discussion on the day. There was very strong support for the
quite diverse and including:                                              reintroduction of Diploma and Advanced Diploma qualifications in
• Mental health consumers & carers                                        Mental Health Work so as to provide career pathways for people
• Mental health NGO managers & direct care staff                          wanting to specialize in mental health work in the community
• Other community services staff with an interest in mental health        sector.
• Other peak bodies
• NSW Department of Education and Training (DET) & TAFE                   The first draft of the revised Community Services Training Package
                                                                          and Mental Health Work qualification/s will be available for comment
In her introductory remarks the ITAB Executive Officer, Ms Susan          in mid 2007 and a further forum will be convened to consider its
Scowcroft, commented that when the 1999 Community Services                content.

News in Brief
                Consumers representation in the                                          Aboriginal Mental Health
                forensic hospital system                                                 First Aid program

                Over the past two years, MHCC have participated in a Justice Health      Following the international success of the Mental Health First Aid
                Consumer and Community Committee (CCC). This group review and            (MHFA) program, a specialty culturally sensitive MHFA course has
                make recommendations on a broad spectrum of health issues, for           been drafted, aiming to be appropriate for delivery to Aboriginal
                both inmates and forensic patients. The terms of reference of the CCC    communities. The draft Aboriginal MHFA manual has been reviewed
                do not include matters over which Corrections have jurisdiction.         by the National Indigenous Strategies Working Group (ISWG) and an
                                                                                         editorial committee including Aboriginal psychiatrist Dr Helen Milroy.
                Currently, one male and one female inmate rep participate in the         The manual is now undergoing a final edit by Aboriginal mental
                Justice Health CCC via teleconferencing, and the committee receive       health workers and other key Aboriginal stakeholders. It is expected
                regular reports from Inmate Development Committees (IDCs) in all         to be available for delivery in early 2007.
                NSW gaols, in which they list and detail problems that arise in their
                community. These reports are received via the Nurse Unit Managers        Instructor Training Course
                (NUMs) sent direct to Justice Health. A relationship of trust has been
                established to the extent that IDCs are reassured that complaints        For an Aboriginal person who will be delivering the MHFA course
                will not result in punitive repercussions.                               only to Aboriginal people, there will be a specialised 5-day Aboriginal
                                                                                         MHFA Instructor Training Course once the selection criteria has been
                                                                                         met. For a person who wishes to conduct MHFA courses for both
                MHCC have long highlighted the need for forensic consumer
                                                                                         Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, the trainee Instructor will
                representatives to advocate on behalf of forensic patients. Forensic
                                                                                         need to successfully complete the regular 5-day MHFA Instructor
                patients are able to see official visitors ‘at their request,’ but our
                                                                                         Training Course plus complete a -day specialty course. People
                understanding is that access can be problematic, due to time
                                                                                         who apply for this specialty course will need to fulfil additional
                constraints, etc.
                                                                                         criteria, which will be set by the MHFA Team in conjunction with an
                                                                                         Aboriginal Advisory Group. More information can be found on the
                MHCC have been discussing with Justice Health the establishment          MHFA website at:
                of employee forensic consumer representative role/s, and it was
                proposed that MHCC establish a reference group in order develop
                a pilot model and policy recommendations to present to the Justice
                                                                                         What is Mental Health First Aid (MHFA)?
                Health Program Council. The first meeting was held on 25 October,        The aim of MHFA is to improve the mental health literacy of the
                during which participants generally shared knowledge, discussed          Australian community and help people provide initial support for
                aspects of the Victorian Forensicare Model, and developed a Terms of     someone with a mental health problem. First developed in 2000
                Reference. MHCC will provide regular updates on the developments         by Betty Kitchener and Professor Tony Jorm, the comprehensive 12
                within this initiative as they occur.                                    hour MHFA Training and Research Program has since been run and
                                                                                         evaluated nationally and internationally.

                                                                                         The course is designed to give people skills to help someone
                Mental Health Rights Manual                                              developing a mental health problem or in a mental health crisis
                                                                                         situation. The underlying philosophy is that crises, including suicidal
                The Mental Health Rights Manual, an online guide to the legal and        or self-harming actions, may be avoided through early intervention.
                human rights of people with a mental illness, has recently undergone     If crises do arise, then members of the public can take action to
                a full revision to ensure access to current and validated information    reduce the potential harm.
                on a wide range of issues relevant to people in contact with the
                mental health system. This update has involved a thorough and            The MHFA course has been evaluated using randomised controlled
                comprehensive consultation process between the MHCC and a wide           trials and a qualitative study, and has been found to be effective
                range of relevant government and non-government organisations.           at improving participants’ knowledge of mental disorders, reducing
                                                                                         stigma, and increasing the amount of help provided to others.
                In accordance with the suggestions obtained from this process
                of consultation, a number of key areas in the manual have been           Specialised MHFA courses
                amended and in some cases rewritten to better reflect recent changes
                                                                                         Specialised MHFA courses are being developed to appropriately
                in policy and legislation. In particular, chapters on employment,
                                                                                         address a range of cultures. To date, there are culturally and
                accommodation, multicultural issues and dual diagnoses have
                                                                                         linguistically modified courses for Croatian, Vietnamese and Italian
                undergone extensive revision. There is also a new chapter devoted
                                                                                         communities; the Aboriginal course is almost ready; and in 2007, a
                to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) issues. Further
                                                                                         MHFA with Adolescents course will be available.
                changes will be included soon on the completion of the Mental
                Health Act Review.To view the on-line Mental Health Rights Manual,

                                                                                                                                              Member Spotlight
Westworks is a non-government, charitable organisation
running a range of practical support services for consumers
and carers in outer western Sydney. It was established in
1992, the brainchild of mental health nurse Robert Lawson.
While working with the local mental health service, he
identified the need for a supported employment program,
and Westworks was born with support from Wentworth
Area Health.

Westworks operates a small business that employs people living with
a mental illness to provide a range of property maintenance services,
including commercial and domestic cleaning, lawn-mowing, gutter
cleaning, and repair jobs. Consumers are trained and supported by
vocational trainers, who work with them to develop their skills and
confidence in providing a professional and quality service. Lawn-
mowing in particular is a competitive industry, so it is important
to Westworks to provide an efficient and quality service for their
customers, while providing a secure workplace for their employees
that can be life-changing.
                                                                                        A Westworks staff member in action

    “So assisting consumers in their recovery is
         the organisation’s prime motivation.”

Margo (not her real name) was almost entirely house-bound with
agoraphobia, but after only a few months working with Westworks,
she now travels independently to and from an office in the centre
of town to clean. Darren (not his real name) has developed the
skills and confidence from his time at Westworks to now be able to
supervise and train other consumers.

Westworks’ philosophy is that we all have something to contribute
to society. The road from illness to recovery is filled with stepping-
stones, each traversed at one’s own pace. So assisting consumers                CEO Pam Branch and Business Development Manager
in their recovery is the organisation’s prime motivation. As CEO                                Brian McNamara
Pam Branch says, “It’s not just about work. People have got to live
their lives”. So Westworks’ programs are varied, offering a range of
practical services to help people live their lives.                      estimated cost of $2.10 per member per hour, WestClub says its
                                                                         cost-effectiveness is self evident!
There is the Respite for Carers program, in which respite is provided
by support workers who have personal experience of mental illness,       Westworks’ funding comes from several sources. Its CEO and the
allowing them to provide peer support for consumers. Some carers         WestClub division are funded by the local Area Health Service, its
have commented that seeing skilled consumers providing this              business manager and vocational trainers are funded by FACSIA,
support gives them hope for their own family member, someone who         and Respite for Carers is funded by HACC. Consumers employed
has “been down the dark tunnel and had come through”. There is           in property maintenance are paid full Award rates from the money
also the Leadership and Mentor program that empowers consumers           generated by the commercial business.
to consider and speak with each other about topics ranging from
building confidence and self esteem through to friendship and love.      Westworks is a great example of the positive impact that NGOs have
                                                                         on the everyday lives of consumers and carers in the community.
And there is WestClub, providing social and recreational activities
for consumers including a weekly drop-in. The purpose is to meet         WESTWORKS INC.
other people in a friendly environment with an emphasis on having        12 Evan St, Penrith, NSW 2750
fun. Its members are passionate about the club, with some saying         PH: 4721 8187         FAX: 4721 1892
it is their only source of entertainment and socialisation. For an       Email:

            December 2006                                                                 CALL FOR ABSTRACTS
What’s On

            MHCC Mental Health First Aid Courses

            4 - 5 December: Central Coast
            7 - 8 December: Tamworth East
            10th NSW Rural Mental Health Conference
            The theme of this years conference will be ‘Help, Hope and Hype
            - Recreating Mental Health for the New Century’.
            When: 29 Nov 2006 to 01 December 2006
            Where: Orange, NSW
            For more info: Mental Health & Drug & Alcohol Services Greater
            Western Area Health Service
                                                                                           MENTAL HEALTH
            Phone: 02 660 7874 Fax: 02 661 217
            January 2007                                                                   SYDNEY MASONIC CENTRE

                                                                                           count me in
            MHCC Mental Health First Aid Courses
            18 - 19 January 07: Penrith
            20 - 1 January 07: Dapto

            February 2007                                                                  The theme ‘count me in’ promotes the importance of
                                                                                           inclusiveness in all aspects of community life for people
            ACROD NSW Annual Conference 2007: Disability Services                          with mental health problems. It also promotes the need for
            - What Next?? - CALL FOR ABSTRACTS                                             inclusiveness in the planning and delivery of the services
            When: 19 – 20 February 2007                                                    needed for better mental health.
            Where: Novotel Brighton-Le Sands, Sydney                                       The Mental Health Coordinating Council is keen to ‘count
            What will 2007 hold for the Disability Services Sector in NSW?                 you in’ to contribute to this Conference which focuses
            And how can we as a vibrant, progressive industry thrive?                      on psycho social rehabilitation, resilience, inclusion and
            For more info: Ph: 02 950 1602 E:                         innovation. We are looking for your bold and imaginative
            Web:                                                          solutions to promote recovery and ensure meaningful
                                                                                           consumer and carer participation in service development
            Kindling the Flame: Promoting Mental Health and Wellbeing                      and community life.
            When: February 21st-2rd, 2007
            Where: The Hyatt Hotel, Perth, Western Australia                               Abstracts are due 20 December 2006.
                                                                                           For more information visit:
            For more info:
                                                                                           or Ph: (02) 9555 888 Ext 0
            MHCC Mental Health First Aid Courses                                           Email:
            27 - 28 February 07: Orange

                                                                                           1st -2nd MARCH 2007

                                                                                MHCC STAFF AND CONTACT DETAILS
                                                            View from the Peak is published four times a year. Editorial material is welcome but there
                                                               is no guarantee on publication or return of originals. Please forward your copy to the
                                                                                             Editor, Stephanie Maraz.

                                                                  Executive Officer               Policy Officers             NGO Development
                                                                   Jenna Bateman                 Stephanie Maraz                Strategy Staff
                                                                      Heidi Freeman
                                                                                               Corinne Henderson    
                                                                   Office Manager                  Debbie Green
                        funded by NSW Health                         Edi Condack                  Rachel Merton    
                                                                            Tina Smith
                  The Mental Health Coordinating Council                                                            
                   is the peak body for non-government        Administration Support           Technical Support
                                                                                                                             Jonine Penrose-Wall
                  organisations working for mental health         Angela Deligio                  Simon Biber
                           in New South Wales.

                                                                Mental Health Coordinating Council
                                             Rose Cottage, Central Avenue, Rozelle Hospital Grounds, Rozelle NSW 2039
                                   Email: • Tel: (02)9555 8388 • Fax: (02)9810 8145 • Web:


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