Jeff Cheverton Memorial Scholarship 2018: Spotlight News

8, July, 2017

11 July 2017

Jeff Cheverton image

Jeff Cheverton.
Photo thanks to Brisbane North PHN

The Jeff Cheverton Memorial Scholarship has been established by the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA), together with Brisbane North Primary Health Network (PHN), to honour the memory of Jeff Cheverton, who demonstrated excellence in health leadership until his untimely death in March 2017.

This six-week scholarship for postgraduate tertiary students and early career researchers supports scholars to develop an issues brief on a topic relevant to primary health, mental health, aged care, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, or LGBTQI health. It also provides the opportunity for scholars to spend 6 weeks working with a peak national health body, based in Canberra, and to establish connections with policymakers and practitioners working in their field of research.

More information on the Scholarship is available here (731 kB).


*Information sourced from Brisbane North PHN.

New Mental Health Commissioner for Queensland: Spotlight News

3, July, 2017

4th July 2017

Ivan Frkovic New Mental Health CommissionerQueensland has named mental health expert, Ivan Frkovic, as the new Mental Health Commissioner to help strengthen the delivery of integrated care across government and the community sectors.

Mr Frkovic, was most recently Deputy Chief Executive Officer, National Operations, for Aftercare – an organisation helping people who are, or have been, experiencing mental illness or have intellectual disabilities.

He also has extensive academic and government experience, including holding the positions of Director, Mental Health Programs and Reforms in the Department of Communities and a director within the Mental Health Branch of Queensland Health.

QAMH would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Ivan Frkovic, former Deputy CEO of Aftercare, on his appointment.

We would also like to thank Ivan’s predecessor, Dr Lesley Van Schoubroeck, outgoing Queensland Mental Health Commissioner for her support of QAMH over the past three years.

Click here to read the full media release from Queensland Health.

‘What’s tougher? Military service, professional football, the emergency services, or telling someone you’re not OK?’

28, June, 2017

28 June 2017

‘Our Toughest Challenge Yet’: Lifeline campaign tackles male suicide

A new campaign to breakdown traditional male values of stoicism and masculinity has been launched by Lifeline Australia, highlighting the lifesaving importance of open and non-judgemental conversations about suicide.

The national charity’s CEO Pete Shmigel said that the ‘Our Toughest Challenge Yet’ campaign (see here) focuses on the national suicide emergency and its impact on Australian men and their families.

Read about it here


New centre for prevention of mental illness co-led by Black Dog Institute: Spotlight News

28, June, 2017

28 June 2017

Is it possible to intervene at the right time to stop mental illness from taking hold in the first place? Or can we ‘vaccinate’ against common mental illnesses, preventing or delaying onset and reducing the impact of poor mental health on individuals and the community?

With the support of the Commonwealth Government and the dedicated Black Dog community, they are now on the cusp of making this a reality.

A new world-class research facility jointly led by Black Dog Institute and the Hunter Institute of Mental Health will develop new prevention strategies and programs, and facilitate its delivery to Australians to all ages and background.

Black Dog’s pioneering prevention work has been recognised in the recent Federal Budget, with the Commonwealth Government allocating $5 million to Black Dog Institute and Hunter Institute of Mental Health to establish Australia’s first research centre focussed on the prevention of anxiety and depression.

Involving research, clinical, education and policy experts from around NSW, this world-class Centre will create a streamlined process that will see new programs swiftly developed, evaluated and integrated into real-life settings.

With a firm emphasis on collaboration and rapid research translation, this new Centre will build a strong foundation for the future of mental health research, while ensuring Australia’s research spending is having the maximum impact.

This exciting initiative is not the result of any one piece of research or community activity. It’s an acknowledgement of the intrinsic value of collective efforts – whether in the lab, in schools or workplaces, or in our volunteers’ communities. Underpinning it all is the commitment of our loyal donors and supporters, whose generosity and trust enables us to continue our life-saving work.

Prevention is better than cure

New research has shown that we could prevent around 20% of all cases of depression and anxiety through mass delivery of evidence-based prevention programs. Put simply, we could prevent over 40,000 cases of depression and anxiety every single year, improving lives and reducing the pressure on our struggling health systems.

While there are many programs around that claim to prevent mental illness, few have undergone rigorous scientific assessment to prove their clinical effectiveness. Furthermore, we have very little understanding of how prevention programs should be delivered – when, where and by whom.

Over the past five years, Black Dog Institute researchers have been working hard to answer these important questions and develop the right tools for the job.

Clinical research projects, such as the ‘Tripod trial’, have measured the significant impact that evidence-based prevention programs can have on a school population. New interactive tools such as iBobbly (the world’s first ever suicide prevention app for Indigenous Australians) and Sleep Ninja (a novel mobile app to help improve sleep in young people) are under development and showing great promise. Delivery of tools like Biteback and Headstrong are working to improve mental health literacy and wellbeing. Access to appropriate mental health care is being facilitated by ‘Smooth Sailing’, our cutting edge virtual clinic for adolescents. A meta-analysis of existing knowledge has also enabled us to advise government on policy that will work in the Australian context.

With all this information at our fingertips, our next big challenge is to weave these strands together to produce better and readily implementable prevention strategies and programs for Australians of all backgrounds.

We look forward to working with the Commonwealth Government, the Hunter Institute and the wider community as we bring this Centre and its vital mission into fruition.

Story via Black Dog Institute

24/7 mental health support call centre at Ipswich Hospital – Recognition of the urgency in providing better resources to support regional mental health: Spotlight News

28, June, 2017

28 June 2017

Vital expansion for Ipswich Hospital service – 24/7 mental health support call centre at Ipswich Hospital

ONE call could be all it takes to save a life and Ipswich residents can make it any time.

A 24-hour, seven-day-a-week call centre has just been opened at Ipswich Hospital after a major funding boost.

The specialist call centre staff are entirely dedicated to fielding queries about mental health and offering advice on the best way to access services.

It means patients and family members who are unsure about where to go, or what to do in a crisis, will always have someone in the local health service to call for help.

The initiative is also part of an overall Queensland Health approach to reduce the burden on emergency departments and reduce the number of hospitalisations for mental-health related illness.

The call centre initiative is slowly rolling out across the state.

Last week, West Moreton Hospital Health was handed a $4.7 million funding increase for the Ipswich-based Mental Health Acute Care Team, as part of the State Budget.

The call centre isn’t the only expansion in the works either.

More staff will perform home visits, as part of an after care service, which will also now operate on the weekends.

West Moreton Hospital and Health Service operational director of community and acute services, Michelle Giles said this service was essential.

“One in five Queenslanders will experience a mental illness throughout their lives,” Ms Giles said.

“(Taking calls) is a really crucial part of our service.

“If someone has a loved one with a mental illness and they are showing signs they are not well – it may be the first encounter someone has with a mental illness – the family member may be frightened, confused, they may not know what is going on.

“The person who is experiencing that illness may not be able to see they have a mental illness… so it’s really important for family members and patients themselves to have somewhere they can call and ask questions.”

Similar call centres have operated for more than two years at the Gold Coast and are operational in other areas.

Save this number

1300 MH CALL, or 1300 64 2255, 24 hours a day, seven days a week to access vital information regarding mental health treatment and support. You will speak with a West Moreton Hospital and Health Service staff member.

Townsville Suicide Prevention Network: Townsville Community Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2017 – 2020: Spotlight News

28, June, 2017

28 June 2017

For two years, the Townsville Suicide Prevention Network has been working quietly in the background to listen to the voice of lived experience, consult widely throughout the community, map services, find gaps, and gain insights into the data around suicide in our city – a figure that is 1.5 times above the national average – to develop this Community Action Plan for suicide prevention for the general population.

Click here to read the Townsville Community Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2017 – 2020

Commonwealth Government Names Suicide Prevention Australia as Lead for National Research Fund: Spotlight News

28, June, 2017

28 June 2017

At the recent meeting of the Parliamentary Friends for Suicide Prevention today, Minister for Health The Hon. Greg Hunt MP announced Suicide Prevention Australia as lead agency for a new national Suicide Prevention Research Fund.

The $12m Fund was promised in the Federal Election campaign following calls from Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA) and its members for increased, dedicated investment in suicide prevention research.

In commenting on the announcement, Suicide Prevention Australia CEO, Sue Murray, said that “We are proud to be named the independent leadership body tasked with facilitating a research environment that improves the way we map gaps in current knowledge and strengthen Australia’s research capability.”

“Prioritising research and establishing pathways to move research findings into policy and practice, in a timely manner, is integral to achieving a downward trajectory in suicides. This concept, in other health areas such as breast cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes has clearly demonstrated the power of coordinated research in Australia.”

“We will work with our members, lived experience representatives and those with research interests to ensure that the research is strategically targeted to nationally agreed priorities.”

National Coalition for Suicide Prevention Chair, Matthew Tukaki, agrees and says “With mental health and suicide prevention reform a priority, we are seeing movement in the right direction in terms of practice, based on collaboration, with a solid evidence base. This is complementary to regionally based planning and innovative population based trials.

Making change in our research settings to ensure we also efficiently direct those efforts is another logical step change in suicide prevention.”

Commission welcomes new President: Spotlight News

28, June, 2017

28 June 2017

The Australian Human Rights Commission welcomes the appointment of a new President to replace Professor Gillian Triggs, who departs at the end of July after a five-year term.

The Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC today announced Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM will be the Commission’s next President.

Professor Croucher has been with the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) for more than 10 years, almost eight of those as President.

During this time, Professor Croucher has led nine law reform inquiries, including inquiries on Client Legal Privilege, Secrecy Laws, Family Violence, Discovery, Age Barriers, Disability Laws and Freedoms. She recently completed the Elder Abuse Inquiry.

Professor Croucher has had a distinguished career in legal education prior to joining the ALRC, with 25 years in university teaching and management. This included working as Dean of Law at Macquarie University and Acting Dean of Law at Sydney University.

She has lectured and published extensively, was made a Foundation Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law in 2007, and received a Member of the Order of Australia in 2015 for “significant service to the law as an academic, to legal reform and education, to professional development, and to the arts”.

All Commissioners and staff look forward to working with the new President.

Professor Croucher will begin her seven-year term on July 30, 2017.

Highlights of the 2017-18 State Budget

14, June, 2017

14 June 2017Queensland Government logo

Yesterday afternoon, Queensland Treasurer, the Hon Curtis Pitt MP handed down the 2017-18 State Budget and QAMH is pleased to see mental health related outcomes included in the budget. We are especially excited to see that $68m has been allocated to building a new adolescent mental health facility at the Prince Charles Hospital, to replace the closed Barrett centre.

Other highlights include:

$100m for reforms in the housing and homelessness service system.

$1.8b over 10 years to build 4,522 new social homes and 1,034 affordable homes, to tackle the 26,000-strong social housing waiting list.

two new Step Up Step Down facilities in South-East Queensland to provide intermediate care to help young people who do not require full-time care, but need continued support, and two day programs, providing 15 places, will be set up at Logan and the Gold Coast.

$7.4m to help families where a person has become addicted to ice.

Further information regarding the budget can be found from several sources:

ABC News has provided a helpful summary of the budget, breaking it down into categories to provide inform Queenslanders what the budget means for them. See the ABC News Budget Summary.

Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) has shared a letter written by Michael Hogan, Director-General of the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services discussing the the funding contained in the budget for this portfolio. Read Michael Hogan’s letter.

A media release from Minister for Disability Services, Minister for Seniors and Minister Assisting the Premier on North Queensland, the Hon Coralee O’Rouke MP. Read the media release.

The full budget can be found at the 2017-18 Queensland Budget website.


Suicide Prevention Health Taskforce – Phase 1 Action Plan: Spotlight News

6, June, 2017

6 June 2017

Queensland Health
Suicide Prevention Health Taskforce Agreed Principles for Action

The Suicide Prevention Health Taskforce (the Taskforce) was established in August 2016 to focus on the  development of suicide prevention policy, strategies, services, and programs to be used in a health service delivery context in order to contribute to a measureable reduction in suicide and its impact on Queenslanders.

Queensland Health has now released the Suicide Prevention Health Taskforce: Phase 1 Action Plan. The Taskforce identified three priority areas for action which were supported by the Honourable Cameron Dick MP, Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services during his opening address at the Suicide Prevention Health Roundtable:

1. Skills development and support
2. Evidence based treatment and care
3. Pathways to care within and outside specialist mental health services.

Download the Suicide Prevention Health Taskforce – Phase 1 Action Plan