ISFAF MONTHLY MEETING 7.30PM TUESDAY 13 JUNE 2023
SPEAKER: Gabby Cohen, Southcity Clinic Team Leader, Alfred Mental and Addiction Health
TOPIC: Mental Health and Substance use at Home
VENUE: Level four, Spotless Building, 549 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
The “Spotless Building’ is a little to the city side of Wesley College, and has white umbrellas in the forecourt. Lots of free parking in the centre lanes of St Kilda Road, with many trams stopping at the door.
If you are having trouble with transport, seek further information or just need a chat, about ISFAF and/or issues faced by carers please phone: Judi on 0425 723 746 or Eleni on 0412 018 722.
Please come early to chat and to enjoy our delicious food which will be available from 7.10pm. Due to security needs, we are required to pay a concierge at the door of the building.
The following paragraphs are excerpts from an update by the Deputy Secretary, Mental Health and Wellbeing 2 March 2023
Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 – A new Q&A
Our new ‘Q&A’ aims to promote understanding of the Act and the activities underway to support implementation. We’ll start this series with a question about the broader goals the Act is trying to achieve. You can email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: ‘What does the new Act do?’
A: The new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 delivers on the Royal Commission’s vision for rights-based mental health and wellbeing laws which reflect the diverse needs of our communities and creates the structures that will hold government to account on providing a high-quality, compassionate public mental health and wellbeing system.
The new Act puts people with lived and living experience of mental illness and psychological distress, and their families, carers and supporters at the centre of the mental health and wellbeing system. It does this through the introduction of new rights-based objectives and principles and the inclusion of designated lived experience roles at the highest levels of new and existing governance and oversight entities.
It also establishes key elements of the new system architecture, including the Chief Officer for Mental Health and Wellbeing, statutory Regional Mental Health and Wellbeing Boards to provide advice on the planning and commissioning of services at the local level, the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission, a legislated opt-out non-legal mental health advocacy service and Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing Victoria.
The Act will ensure the legislative framework reach beyond merely authorising and regulating the use of compulsory treatment and restrictive interventions and enable a connected and coordinated system where people do not fall through the cracks and receive the treatment, care and support they need.
Please email your questions to email@example.com
Calendar of engagement opportunities
This calendar reflects the most up-to-date view of upcoming mental health and wellbeing engagement opportunities, including consultations, EOI processes and tenders.
Targeted engagement refers to engagement activities where we are seeking input from priority groups and cohorts. In many cases, we will be working with peak bodies and organisations that represent those communities to identify participants, including people with lived and living experience.
Open engagement refers to public engagement activities where anybody with an interest in the work is welcome to contribute. Where available, we will provide a link to where you can find out more about the engagement and how to participate.
Last updated: 2 March 2023.
For more information see link below:
A progress report on the effectiveness of mental health and wellbeing reform from the people who use the system
On 6 September 2022 Victoria’s three mental health sector peak bodies, the Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council (VMIAC), Tandem, and Mental Health Victoria, will host a major, sector-wide conference focused on Victoria’s mental health reform journey.
The conference will be launched by Victoria’s Minister for Mental Health, Minister Gabrielle Williams. Senior representatives from the Victorian Government will be invited to engage in high-level, solutions focused policy discussions, led by the Victorian mental health sector, including the consumers, carers, families and supporters at the heart of our system.
This will be an opportunity for Victoria’s mental health sector to thoughtfully examine key reform initiatives from the first 18 months of Victoria’s reform journey, including legislative reform, service system reform in clinical and community settings, Aboriginal Social and Emotional Wellbeing, and Lived Experience reform.
Date: Tuesday 6 September 2022
Time: 9.30am – 5pm
Location: Pullman Hotel, Albert Park, 65 Queens Rd, Albert Park VIC 3004
Please Take 5 Minutes To Show Your Support For Rescheduling the Medicinal Use of Psilocybin and MDMA as Part of Psychotherapy for The Treatment of Mental Illness
Australians Need Your Help!
The TGA’s Public Submissions Period is Now Open
The TGA has announced the public consultation period is now open in relation to Mind Medicine Australia’s applications to amend the Poisons Standard in relation the medical use of psilocybin and MDMA as part of therapy for key classes of treatment resistant mental illness
The public consultation period ends COB on Friday 27 May 2022.
This is the last day that you will be able to lodge a public submission.
If the applications are successful this will be a historic moment – Please be part of it
“To my mind, the clinical evidence is clear…every day that this takes is a day that we lose people, and that’s not acceptable…”
The Majority of Australians ALREADY Support the Regulation of Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy… But The Regulators Don’t Know Where You Stand. Show Them That It is Politically Safe to Listen to the Science By Making A Submission. Australians Deserve Better.
Accessible employment opportunities – Australian Electoral Commission temporary workforce
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) is recruiting a temporary workforce for the 2022 federal election.
The AEC promotes diversity and inclusion and equal employment opportunities.
If you are interested in applying for a temporary position with the AEC you can learn more about the positions and how to register through the following links:
- Information on available positions with a summary of the main tasks and attributes required for the position election job position descriptions
- Watch the Temporary Election Workforce video
- Temporary election workforce registration page
If you decide to apply, you will be asked to indicate if you have a disability and whether reasonable adjustment to the workplace is required. The AEC may contact you to discuss your situation.
If you have low vision or difficulty completing the registration online, please contact the AEC on 13 23 26 for assistance.
ASSOCIATE EDITOR @AMBERMAYSCHULTZ
Amber covers health and social affairs for Crikey. She has been shortlisted for two Young Walkley Awards, was the 2021 Mumbrella Young Writer of the Year for her coverage of sexual violence, and in 2018 completed the Jacoby-Walkley scholarship. She holds two Master degrees and previously worked for The Age, Nine News and ABC’s Tonightly.
The agency that oversees the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has no idea how many of the workers it pays for to provide services are unregistered.
These workers, who are either employed by a company or are freelance, can provide services ranging from landscaping to personal care, chosen by NDIS participants. They’re governed only by a “code of conduct” comprising just seven dot points around respecting privacy, preventing and responding to sexual misconduct and providing quality care.
“There are more checks and balances when buying a beer than there is on the provisions of unregistered NDIS services,” Labor Senator Tony Sheldon told a Senate committee hearing yesterday. He pointed to the responsible service of alcohol (RSA) course those working in pubs and bars have to take to serve booze, versus the lack of certification disability workers have to have.
Allowing people with disabilities to pick and choose who provides their services is a crucial part of the NDIS model around choice and control. But with a toothless sector watchdog understaffed and overburdened with complaints, unregistered providers can not just be costly — but dangerous too.
Where’s the oversight?
Acting NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commissioner Tracy Mackey told estimates there were around 4000 unregistered providers — but couldn’t provide an exact figure. So how exactly are standards enforced?
While workers with a registered provider have to undergo a screening test before being hired, unregistered providers are subject to the code of conduct with little else governing how they work. Mackey pointed to the “half a million” downloads of the code of conduct as evidence workers were paying attention.
Disability staff are some of the lowest-paid workers in Australia and many have no disability-related qualifications. There’s high turnover too, with around a quarter of staff leaving their role in a given year.
The fact the NDIA can’t say how many unregistered providers or workers there are is extremely worrying, estimates heard. It also has no idea how many of those unregistered workers are vaccinated.
Social Services Minister Anne Ruston also said she has no idea how many Australians with disability have died from COVID-19. She said the government “wouldn’t necessarily know” if someone has a disability.
How are dodgy providers dealt with?
Mackey said people with a disability, their families or their advocate can make a complaint about a registered or unregistered provider with the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission.
But how realistic is this? As of June 2021, the commission employed just 124 staff across the country. In the past financial year the commission received:
- Over 1 million notifications of unauthorised use of restrictive practices, including using medication to restrain someone or locking them in a room, more than triple 2019-20 numbers
- 417 allegations of sexual misconduct, up from 350 the previous year
- 1179 notifications of death (unregistered providers don’t have to provide this data to the commission)
- 2030 allegations of unlawful physical or sexual contact, up from 1671 the previous year
- 3189 notifications of serious injury, up from 1854 the previous year
- 5971 allegations of abuse and neglect, up from 3637 the previous year
- 7231 complaints. More than half of those complaints were dismissed by the commission and just 2% of them were resolved through a resolution process
- 20,090 inquiries about behaviour support
Between July and December 2021, an extra 4134 complaints were submitted to the commission.
Crikey has heard instances of commission staff walking off the job in tears due to understaffing and under-resourcing. There were just 291 investigations launched into complaints in the past year, and just 46 providers have been banned since 2018 when the commission was formed.
The commission was recently granted broader powers to grant banning orders based on how suitable an organisation is to provide services and to approve or revoke quality auditors.
Are unregistered providers the issue?
Unregistered providers are an important part of allowing people with disabilities to chose who provides them with care — especially given the care is often personal in nature. But making sure that person is qualified, suitable, vaccinated and hasn’t been banned from providing certain reports largely rests on the person with disabilities.
“We do try really hard to encourage self-managing participants to require their disability support workers to be vaccinated,” Mackey said, while NDIA CEO Martin Hoffman said it was up to the states and territories to oversee vaccination status of disability workers.
Those working with a registered NDIS provider have to undergo a worker screening check, and if they’re found to have been involved with criminal activity that could impact a person with a disability, such as online scamming or abuse, they receive an exclusion from working with registered providers.
But this doesn’t exclude them from working with an unregistered provider or within the disability sector altogether.
Butterfly launches #AnEDLooksLikeMe & releases new research to break down stigma of EDs
Butterfly is proud to launch ‘An Eating Disorder Looks Like Me’ – a Christmas appeal challenging prevailing stereotypes that eating disorders have a specific ‘look’. The reality is that anyone can have an eating disorder, regardless of body shape, age, cultural background, gender, socio-economic status or even eating disorder presentation, and around one million of us do. Underpinning the appeal are the results of Butterfly’s Community Insights research, funded by the Commonwealth government, revealing: 90 per cent of Australians are not confident they could recognise the signs or symptoms of an eating disorder, despite the common misconception that eating disorders have a specific ‘look’; a quarter (25%) of Australians believe eating disorders are a choice and that people could stop their behaviour if they really wanted to; over half (57%) of Australians incorrectly believe only young women are affected by eating disorders.
Victorians shaping the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act (VIC)
Hundreds of Victorians have had their say on the Andrews Labor Government’s new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act, which will enshrine recommendations from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System into law and help build the state’s new mental health system. The Royal Commission set out a 10-year vision for creating a balanced, flexible, and responsive system that delivers individualised care for every Victorian who needs it, with a key recommendation that the Mental Health Act 2014 be replaced with a new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act by mid-2022.
More support and relief for mental health carers (VIC)
The Andrews Labor Government is supporting the selfless Victorians who care for a loved one with mental illness or in psychological distress, with a funding boost for mental health carers. Minister for Mental Health James Merlino announced the Labor Government is investing $16.8 million to help Victorian carers, either financially or with relief and respite from their caring roles. The support includes $8.8 million for the Mental Health Carer Support Fund to help more carers pay for expenses related to their caring role and support their own health – whether it’s respite from their caring responsibilities, food and bills for their own family, or supporting their personal wellbeing through exercise or counselling.
Victorian Disability Worker Commission can take complaints about disability workers
Established in July 2020, the Victorian Disability Worker Commission (the Commission) regulates all disability workers in Victoria, regardless of their funding.
The Commission can take and investigate complaints about Victorian disability workers.
Complaints can be made by calling 1800 497 132 between 9.30am and 4.30pm, Monday to Friday or via an online form.
Making a complaint is a great way to improve services for everyone.
People with disability can choose a registered disability worker
By choosing a registered worker, people with disability can be confident the worker meets professional standards—no matter what service provider they work for or how their services are funded.
The Victorian Disability Worker Commission is making it easier choose a registered disability worker, with a list of registered disability workers now available on VDWC website.
For over a year now, COTA Australia has been campaigning to protect the mental health and social connections of aged care residents. Everyone has a right to be protected from COVID-19. But in some cases paternalistic nursing home managers put that right above all others, and residents were cut off from family for months. Social isolation has terrible consequences on mental health, and often causes rapid decline in general health.
Last year, in partnership with other consumer and carer advocates, we led the creation of the Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes during COVID-19. Negotiated with aged care provider representatives, and endorsed by National Cabinet, it helped in many cases, but not all.
Now, as Australia achieves its vaccination goals, we have been working to revise the Code, and we need your help.
The endorsing organisations have agreed to a public consultation, and we need your wisdom, and your voice.
We have advocated for a nominated “Essential Visitor” to be chosen by the resident. That person will be able to get in, even during a lock down. Is this the right way to go?
Older people have a right to be protected from COVID-19, and they’ve got a right to mental health and family connection too.
Ian Yates AM