State & territory jurisdictional reports: Activity relating to mental health reform prior to the implementation of the Fourth National Mental Health Plan

8. Work with schools, workplaces and communities to deliver programs to improve mental health literacy and enhance resilience

Page last updated: December 2010

Department of Health and Ageing

  • The Department funds a range of prevention and promotion activities, as well as support for consumer and carer organisations, specifically:
    • MindMatters - the Australian Government's framework for improving mental health outcomes of secondary schools using a range of resources to increase the capacity of schools for mental health promotion and early intervention (also funded under the National Suicide Prevention Program)
    • Publications and materials to reduce stigma and raise awareness of mental illness and the rights of consumers and carers and
    • The Children of Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI) project which aims to promote better mental health outcomes for children of parents with a mental health problem or disorder. It aims to increase the availability of information on how to enhance children's resilience, reducing risk factors and resources to assist children, workers and families in relation to parental mental illness (also funded under the New Early Intervention Services initiative). Top of page
  • The New Early Intervention Services for Parents, Children and Young People (NEIS) initiative provides a framework for mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention for children from birth to 12 years and funds activities including:
    • KidsMatter Primary initiative which aims to improve the mental health and wellbeing of primary school students, reduce mental health problems among students, and achieve greater support and assistance for students showing signs of mental health problems. It is being extended to a further 300 schools following its pilot project in 101 schools
    • KidsMatter Early Childhood initiative which aims to expand the KidsMatter concept into early childhood settings and enable preschools and long day care centres to implement evidence based mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention strategies that will improve the social and emotional health and wellbeing of children from birth to school age, reduce mental health problems, and achieve greater support and assistance for children showing signs of mental health problems. The initiative is being in at least 110 preschools and long day care centres across Australia over the 2010 and 2011 calendar years
    • KidsMatter Transition to School: Parent Initiative which is an evidence-based approach to parenting guidance and support at the time of transition from preschool to primary school that will become an integrated part of the Parenting Support and Education component of the KidsMatter Primary School initiative
    • Strengthening early intervention pathways and ensuring the best available guidance and support is available on the management of significant mental health disorders such as eating disorders and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and
    • Early childhood initiatives for indigenous parents and children which expand the KidsMatter framework to develop culturally appropriate information and resources aimed at the indigenous early childhood sector and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and parents. Top of page
  • The National Youth Mental Health Initiative, which includes funding to headspace to provide a national, coordinated focus on youth mental health and related drug and alcohol problems in Australia and will improve access for young people with mental health problems to appropriate services and ensure better coordination between services.
  • The Department funds a range of prevention and promotion activities, as well as support for consumer and carer organisations, specifically:
    • Publications and materials to reduce stigma and raise awareness of mental illness and the rights of consumers and carers and
    • Children of Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI) which aims to increase the availability of information on how to enhance children's resilience, reducing risk factors and resources to assist children and families in relation to parental mental illness.
  • The National Suicide Prevention Program funds the following activities:
    • The Peer Support Foundation - peer led programs which are integrated into curricula and implemented in primary and secondary schools (Kindergarten to Year 12). The program supports positive cultural change within schools by incorporating a range of strategies developed through collaboration with members of the whole community for specific needs of the school
    • Youth adaptation Mental Health First Aid - ORYGEN Research Centre
    • OzHelp Foundation - workplace based suicide prevention activities working with apprentices in male dominated industries in Tas, WA and ACT and
    • IncoLink - suicide prevention activities working with apprentices in the building and construction industry in Victoria. Top of page
  • Beyondblue is funded with a key goal of raising community awareness about depression, anxiety and related disorders and reducing stigma associated with the illness through five priority areas for action (1) community awareness (2) consumer and carer participation (3) prevention and early intervention(4) primary care and (5) targeted research.
  • Funding is provided to the Mental Health Council of Australia for the Stronger Consumer and Carer Representation Project in support of the National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum (NMHCCF) and the National Register of Mental Health Consumer and Carer Representatives. This includes consumer and carer advocacy through the NMHCCF to improve community mental health literacy.
  • The National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC) aims to reduce the use of cannabis in Australia. In conjunction with Orygen Youth Health Centre, it has developed the MAKINGtheLINK program which is an early intervention program that can be offered through schools. The program which aims to improve young people's ability to approach and assist peers with emerging substance use and mental health issues and seek professional help.
  • NCPIC has also developed in conjunction with Orygen Youth Health Centre, Cannabis Mental Health First Aid Guidelines to inform members of the community how to recognise when someone's cannabis use has become a problem (including the experience of mental health problems), how to provide initial support and information, and how to guide the person to seek appropriate professional help. Top of page

Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

  • Improvement of mental health literacy is embedded in the principles of the Targeted Community Care (mental health) Program.
  • National Disability Agreement - Early intervention and prevention is one area identified as a priority under the National Disability Agreement. An Early Intervention and Prevention Framework will be developed to increase Governments' ability to be effective with early intervention and prevention strategies and to ensure that clients receive the most appropriate and timely support by mid 2011.
  • Community Investment Program - aims to improve the responsiveness and integration of local community services to increase participation of vulnerable people in community life. This initiative funds a wide range of projects that promote social connectedness and civic engagement (protective factors known to impact on mental health and well being), intervene early to avoid family crisis, establish positive goals that help avert destructive influences and encourage and assist individuals to achieve their full potential. Projects are listed by state and territory at FaHCSIA's website
  • Volunteer Grants - this initiative is part of the Australian Government's ongoing commitment to supporting volunteering, and building social inclusion and community participation in Australian communities. Details are available at volunteer grants section of FaHCSIA's website. Top of page

Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations

  • At its 30 April 2009 meeting, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to a Compact with Young Australians to increase young people's engagement with education and training pathways.
    The Compact with Young Australians is part of the National Partnership on Youth Attainment and Transitions that will also drive longer term reform to ensure that young people stay engaged in education and training and attain a year 12 or equivalent qualification.
    The National Partnership includes the implementation of a National Youth Participation Requirement which will be in place in all jurisdictions from 1 January 2010. This includes a mandatory requirement for all young people to participate in schooling until they complete Year 10 and participate full-time in education, training or employment, or a combination of these activities, until the age of 17.
    The Youth Connections program will be delivered under the National Partnership. It builds on the success of some of the existing programs and streamlines support for young people.
    Youth Connections will provide an improved safety net for young people who have disconnected from education or their community, or are at risk of disengaging. It will be flexible, offering a combination of case managed support as well as linkages with wider community activities to help young people to reconnect with education or training and build resilience, skills and attributes that promote positive choices and well-being. Youth Connections will address barriers to transitioning through education and training to employment, including mental health issues and other personal barriers. Top of page
  • The National Disability Coordination Officer (NDCO) program—which is a network of 31 officers across Australia—helps people with disability, including mental illness, make the transition from school and further education to employment. The program targets barriers that make it difficult for people with disability to enter and complete post-school education and training and then obtain employment.
    The program has three objectives:
    • improved transitions for people with disability between school and/or the community, vocational education and training (VET), higher education and employment
    • improved participation by people with disability in higher education and VET leading to employment
    • improved linkages between schools, higher education and VET providers and providers of disability programs and assistance.
    NDCOs helps to build linkages between a range of school, post-school, employment and community organisations including Disability Employment Service providers, registered and group training organisations and Australian Apprenticeship Centres to improve training and employment for people with disability.
    For example, the NDCO based in Hobart recently collaborated with the Mental Health Council of Tasmania to facilitate an inaugural networking meeting (MH Intouch) for those interested in education and employment issues for persons with mental illness in Tasmania. The meeting included a presentation on a model to assist people with mental illness in employment networks. The meeting was attended by State Government Mental Health Services, representatives from the University, TAFE, Disability Employment Networks, Vocational Rehabilitation Services providers, an Australian Disability Enterprise organisation, private psychologists, group training organisations and consumers. Due to the level of interest, it is planned that the NDCO will continue to collaborate with the Mental Health Council of Tasmania to facilitate future meetings. Top of page
  • New Disability Employment Services will be introduced from 1 March 2010. The new services will provide flexible, tailored assistance for eligible job seekers with disability, including mental illness. There will be two demand driven employment services:
    • Program A will provide services to job seekers who require the assistance of a specialist disability employment service but are not expected to need long term support in the workplace and
    • Program B will be available to job seekers with a permanent disability and an assessed need for more regular, long term support in the workplace.
    Key features of the new services include: a simplified fee structure which targets resources at those most in need; simpler eligibility criteria, with less complex assessment and referral processes; a reduction in red tape; and access to ongoing support in the workplace, including a flexible ongoing support option to assist job seekers who might have irregular support needs. The new services have a greater emphasis on education, skills acquisition and training and increased resources for job seekers in remote areas.
    Assistance will be available through Job in Jeopardy services to people with disability already working but whose jobs are at risk because of their injury, disability or health condition. Job in Jeopardy services will be available from both Program A and Program B providers.
    Job in Jeopardy assistance is aimed at people who need help to retain their current employment. People can access Job in Jeopardy assistance by directly approaching a disability employment service provider and requesting help.
    A new Employment Assistance Fund (EAF) has been created to remove red tape and simplify access, and to broaden the range of support available. Under the EAF, funding will be available to employers, employment service providers and individuals for workplace modifications, including Mental Health First Aid Training.
    The new disability employment services also include new flexible options for ongoing support in the workplace. Flexible ongoing support will provide a safety net for participants who have been placed into work, but whose support needs are likely to be irregular or less predictable. This support option enables providers to offer flexible assistance, including short bursts of intensive assistance in the workplace.
    The Government has invested $1.2 billion in the new services. Top of page

Human services portfolio

  • The Child Support program works with service providers across a range of disciplines including health, mental health, relationship services, legal and financial to better support the needs of separated and separating families. The Child Support Program administers the Staying Connected program which aims to take support to separated parents (primarily fathers) in the workplace. Staying Connected is being run by Incolink and OzHelp foundation in the building and construction industries in regional areas.

Department of Veterans' Affairs

  • DVA in partnership with Australian General Practice Network and the National Youth Mental Health Foundation has aligned the 'Can Do for young people' initiative to address mental health and drug and alcohol issues experience by young people. The Headspace youth services delivers three unit training sessions, inclusive of veteran case scenarios, across various Divisions of General Practice focussing on increased support to younger veterans, as well as the children of veterans. Top of page

Department of Defence

  • Families and communities play a crucial role in the overall health and well-being of ADF personnel and, wherever possible, Defence will ensure that families are engaged and have the opportunity to be involved in mental health support programs.
  • The commitment to the importance of families will be demonstrated by the increased engagement of families across a member's service career including initial employment, periods of deployment and transition processes. Additionally Defence will support further development of a family friendly culture, specifically in relation to mental health and well-being, within Defence.