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Minutes 17-19 June, Darwin

National Mental Health Commission Meeting
17-19 June 2015, Darwin


Commission Attendees
Professor Allan Fels AO Chair
Mr David Butt Chief Executive Officer and ex-officio Commissioner
Mrs Lucinda Brogden Mental Health Commissioner
Ms Jackie Crowe Mental Health Commissioner

Professor Pat Dudgeon

Mental Health Commissioner

Professor Ian Hickie AM

Mental Health Commissioner
Ms Nicole Gibson Mental Health Commissioner
Hon Dr Kay Patterson Mental Health Commissioner
Commission Staff

Ms Jane Moxon

Director, Policy, Strategy and Projects
Ms Trinette Kinsman
Communications Manager
Ms Ashleigh Mills A/Manager Report Card Development
Mr Tom Abbott Senior Policy and Project Officer
Mr Peter McDermott Project Officer and Secretariat
Mr Rob Knowles AO Mental Health Commissioner

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Four Commissioners and four staff members were invited to visit the Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation on Galiwin’ku (Elcho Island) to meet with service providers and community members. Commissioners were very impressed with the model of service delivery; a “both ways“ approach which is both culturally and medically appropriate.

Thursday 18 June 2015

Commissioners and staff visited the Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin to hear about the challenges of an urban Aboriginal controlled health service. Commissioners and guests were welcome to Country by Robert Mills of the Larrakia Nation. Following this, invited guests from Galiwin’ku, Maningrida, Katherine and Darwin joined together for an afternoon yarning session facilitated by Comissioner Pat Dudgeon to further discuss challenges and possible solutions related to indigenous mental health. The Commissioners were very interested and thankful for the opportunity to hear from many different indigenous service providers, people with lived experience, carers and community leaders and community members.

Dinner Thursday 18 June 2015

Commissioners, staff and invited guests from Darwin, Galiwin’ku, Maningrida and Katherine as well as representatives from beyondblue, Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT), Mental Illness Fellowship Northern Territory (MIFANT) and the Northern Territory Government met over dinner and continued discussions from the visits over the prior two days.

Friday 19 June 2015

Item 1 Welcome and Apologies

Chair Allan Fels welcomed Commissioners and staff. An apology was noted for Commissioner Rob Knowles.

Item 2 Preliminaries

2.1 Feedback from prior day visits

The Commissioners discussed their visits on the prior two days and the challenges related to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and mental health in the Top End of the Northern Territory. It was NOTED that issues of housing, education and access to their homelands are issues crucial to good Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing. Also it was NOTED that there is much to be done in this important area and the government plays a pivotal policy role in enabling positive change.

2.2 Register of Interests

The Register of Interests was tabled, noting that some updates are required.

2.3 Previous Minutes and Actions Arising

The Minutes of the Commission meeting on 20 February 2015 were APPROVED out of session.

2.4 Operational Matters

Current recruitment activity was NOTED and discussed by the Commissioners.

Item 3 Commissioners, CEO and Projects Updates

3.1          CEO Update

CEO David Butt provided a verbal update.

Mr Butt noted that the Seclusion and Restraint Position Statement and Paper released at the 10th National Seclusion and Restraint Forum on 28 and 29 May 2015 was well received.

Mr Butt discussed the announcement on 18 June 2015 of the Expert Reference Group tasked with guiding the implementation of the Commission’s National Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services (the Review).

3.2          Commissioner Updates

Commissioners provided updates on their recent Commission-related activity and upcoming activities.

3.3 Projects Update

It was NOTED that the Seclusion and Restraint Position Statement and Paper were released at the 10th National Seclusion and Restraint Forum in Melbourne.

Item 4 Meeting with representatives from the Malabam Health Board Aboriginal Corporation, Maningrida

Anne Carrick, Social Worker Social and Emotional Well-Being program, Malabam Primary Health Care

Jacqueline Phillips, Youth Worker (Community Sexual Health Education), “Greats” Youth Service

The Malabam Health Board Corporation provides primary health services for the Maningrida region in Arnhem land. The representatives discussed the particular challenges of providing mental health care services in their remote community. They discussed the “circle of pain” that comes from the underlying tribal wars that continue and the history of these wars that some people carry deep inside, with daily reminders they are settled on another tribe’s land and they have limited access to their own homelands. The result is disruption to many aspects of culture, and contact with their ancestors, language, land and law. They also discussed the mental health and wellbeing issues that arise from Aboriginal people needing to live away from their homeland and the systemic problems between services in the region. Other issues include stigma for people with a mental health diagnosis, access to homelands and an inappropriate school year schedule for young Aboriginal children that does not account for Aboriginal customs and cultural practices.

The representatives discussed the key things that would make a difference including secure funding for a social and emotional wellbeing programme, a youth safe house, a full time mental health nurse position, an improved PHaMs programme, transport for people to enable return to their home country in the dry season and coordination between local agencies to organise clear service pathways for clients.

The Commission NOTED the work being done by the Malabam Health Board Aboriginal Corporation and the challenges they face.

Item 5 Government and Public Response to the Review

Commissioners DISCUSSED the response to the Review since its release. They NOTED that the response has been very positive and DISCUSSED the next steps, acknowledging the previous day’s announcement of the ERG.

Item 6 Meeting with representatives from beyondblue and Anglicare NT

Ms Georgie Harman, CEO, beyondblue

Ms Danyelle Jarvis, Executive Manager Homelessness and Social Inclusion, Anglicare NT

The representatives discussed an innovative project they are piloting called the WayBack Support Service. The service provides non-clinical follow up support after a suicide attempt. The project is funded by beyondblue and run in partnership with Anglicare NT. Initial data suggests the programme has been very successful to date and could possibly be rolled out across Australia.

The Commission NOTED the project and its preliminary success.

Item 7: Meeting with Professor Dinesh Arya, NT Chief Medical Officer

Professor Arya discussed the Northern Territory Suicide Prevention Action Plan with the Commissioners.

The Commission DISCUSSED and NOTED the plan.

Item 8: National Mental Health Commission Work Plan

Commissioners DISCUSSED the Commission’s draft Work Plan 2015-16 and APPROVED it in principle. CEO David Butt will be submitting the Plan to the Minister for Health.

Item 9: Meeting with Professor Gary Robinson, Director, Centre for Child Development and Education, School of Health Research, Menzies Institute

Professor Gary Robinson discussed his research in remote environments, most notably with Aboriginal children on the Tiwi Islands and the Skills for Life Programme. The Commissioners DISCUSSED his research and findings.

Item 10: Next Meeting

Commissions DISCUSSED and gave input to the next Commission Meeting which will be held in Canberra, 12-13 August 2015. 


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