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ACT Mental Health Sector Update: 8 December 2023

This is my last sector update before I go on parental leave, as well as our last update before the end of the year. In my absence, I am pleased to be able to leave a fantastic team of people covering core MHCC functions. Jane Brownbill will continue to head up our Operations. Vicky Choice and Rahni Orr Deas will be the main contacts for matters related to events, engagement, and partnerships, while Erin Stewart will handle matters related to policy, advocacy, media, and communications. The core team will be ably advised on policy matters by Outcomes Development Specialist Sebastian Rosenberg, who will lead our commissioning work. I also thank our wonderful board, particularly our Chair, Yvonne Luxford, who will be actively supporting the team. 

There are many exciting developments on the horizon for the team next year.  Our pre-budget submission will advocate for funding and developments for our sector, as well as for our priority areas, developed from extensive consultation with members, including the intersections of climate change and mental health, justice and mental health,  perinatal mental health and loneliness. 

Relating to mental health and climate change, we’re pleased to see international advocacy on the connections between these issues. To coincide with COP28, the World Health Organization – together with the global health community – has emphasised the vital link between health and climate change. WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom says that “Prioritising health is not just a choice; it is the foundation of resilient societies.” Among the health threats posed by climate change, they highlight the mental health impacts associated with trauma and grief resulting from climate-related hazards. Nine countries have included mental health in their national climate change plans, and we hope that both Australia and the ACT will follow. 

We are planning to make a powerful submission to the Inquiry on Loneliness and Social Isolation, and will encourage members to do likewise. This Inquiry is an exciting opportunity for our sector to highlight areas for policy reform and contribute to decision about the policies and programs available in the ACT to foster greater community connection and mental health. 

Have a great holiday season. Make sure to have time to rest and unwind, and to spend time with loved ones. We will be shut down between 23 December and 2 January, and the team is looking forward to continuing their work with you into the New Year. 

– Melanie Poole, CEO MHCC ACT

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