Victorian State Budget 2017/18 - VICSERV Statement

May 2017



Congratulating The Queensland Government's Connecting Care To Recovery Accouncement

11 October 2016

‘In Mental Health Week it is vital all government’s across the country – federal, state and territory – demonstrate a commitment to work together and to link services – regardless of who funds them – so that people with complex mental illness receive the support they need,’ said CMHA President Liz Crowther.

‘Community Mental Health Australia congratulates the Queensland Government recognising the importance of collaboration in their five-year plan for mental health and drug and alcohol services. In particular the focus on building the Government’s relationship with non-government and community organisations, the sector Community Mental Health Australia represents.’

Read the CMHA media release here.

Information, Linkages and Capacity-building (ILC) Commissioning Framework


The NDIS released its ILC Commissioning Framework on 9 November 2016, outlining proposed ILC outcomes, how ILC will interact with NDIS and mainstream services, and how ILC grants will operate.  

Funding grants will be awarded to organisations that can demonstrate how their proposed activity falls under the ILC Outcomes, Focus Areas and Activity Areas, identified in the Framework:

ILC Framework Table

The ILC will prioritise evidence-based activities targeted at families/carers, or people with a disability who do not have an NDIS plan.  Activities that duplicate Local Area Coordination (LAC) activities, NDIS line items or mainstream services will not be funded.  Advocacy is not funded either.  The Framework includes details on how funding applications will be assessed.

The NDIA plans to stagger the ILC roll-out across the states, starting with the ACT on 1 July 2017. More information about funding applications is contained within the Program Guidelines for ILC and the ILC Outcomes Framework Discussion Starter

Introductory Mental Health Training

Mental Health Awareness Training

Mental Health Awareness Training focusses on improving communication skills for staff working in local government, community support, and health agencies and/or other specialist service organisations. The course is beneficial to those staff who have occasional or ongoing contact with people with a mental illness. On completion of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • describe the major mental illnesses, the history of treatment and stigma and how these impact on people's lives,
  • implement effective communication skills in working with clients who are experiencing distress,
  • understand the impact of alcohol and other drugs on mental illness,
  • assist people with mental illness to identify or access support or assistance,
  • identify key parts of the mental health service system that can assist.
Mental Health First Aid Training

Developed in 2001 by Betty Kitchener AM and Professor Tony Jorm, Mental Health First Aid Australia is a national not-for-profit organisation focused on mental health training and research. The 12-hour Mental Health First Aid course teaches adults (18 years and over) how to provide initial support to adults who are developing a mental illness or experiencing a mental health crisis.

  • Course participants learn about the signs and symptoms of the common and disabling mental health problems,
  • how to provide initial help,
  • where and how to get professional help,
  • what sort of help has been shown by research to be effective, and
  • how to provide first aid in a crisis situation.

Participants will receive a copy of the Mental Health First Aid Manual and a certificate of attendance.

For more information on this introductory mental health training contact David Macguire – Manager, Education and Training on 03 9519 7000.

Mental Health Workforce Strategy

The Mental Health Workforce Strategy outlines the State Government's plan to attract, develop and retain the best possible mental health workforce, focussing on how we best equip and skill our workforce to help those in most need such as Aboriginal mental health, rural and regional mental health services. It will also build the capacity for all workers across government, including the broader health networks, education, justice and family services to respond to mental health issues in the community.

The cornerstone of the Strategy is the statewide Centre for Mental Health Workforce Learning and Development, which will work to improve access to learning and development opportunities to build the skills of mental health workers, in areas such as the ability to respond to diversity, complex needs and trauma.

VICSERV sees this as an important initiative and looks forward to working with the Centre.

The Strategy also seeks to ensure individuals experiencing a mental health issue, as well as their families and carers, are supported by workers across sectors and disciplines who have the appropriate attitudes, skills, knowledge and confidence. It is envisaged that initiatives under the Strategy will complement reforms that are happening nationally and across Victoria, including the NDIS.

We acknowledge the Victorian Government's commitment to ensuring the quality and safety of the NDIS as it is introduced in Victoria. We believe that a key building block of the introduction of the NDIS in Victoria, will be the availability of a skilled workforce

We also welcome the identification of an Organisational Capability Framework that supports service improvement and workforce development through identifying the shared capabilities required for good practice, underpinned by the values and culture of a contemporary service system. This framework will be applicable across organisations and workforces to express the capabilities needed to effectively respond to people with mental health issues.

VICSERV will work with a Project Advisory Group to implement the framework for a variety of purposes, providing a shared language and common understanding for the provision of high-quality services.

VICSERV has a long and proud record of training both frontline workers and leaders in the Community Mental Health workforce – with a record number of people trained in 2016. We look forward to continuing this work, and to working with the Government to implement the Strategy.

For more information on the Victorian Government's 10 year mental health plan, click here.

VICSERV submission - Victoria's State Disability Plan 2017 - 2020

July 2016


With the advent of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), and the signing of the bi-lateral agreement between Victorian and Commonwealth governments to commit a significant proportion of the Mental Health Community Support Services (MHCSS) funds to the NDIS, mental illness is now more closely aligned with the disability sector than ever before.

VICSERV made a submission on behalf of its members. 

Whole-of-Governent Suicide Prevention Framework


On the 28th July 2016, the Government released its Suicide Prevention Framework, which is backed by a $27 million investment in two key suicide prevention initiatives, and aims to halve the suicide rate over the next 10 years.

The Government will invest in local community approaches which help support communities implement strategies such as workforce training, school-based support and mental health literacy programs within six local government areas:

  • Mornington Peninsula/Frankston
  • Brimbank/Melton
  • Whittlesea
  • Mildura
  • Latrobe Valley
  • Ballarat

Support will also be provided for intensive community based support trials for people who have attempted suicide in six locations throughout Victoria:

  • Alfred Health
  • St Vincent’s Hospital
  • Barwon Health, Geelong
  • Maroondah Hospital
  • Wangaratta Hospital

The areas for the trial locations are based of the prevalence of suicide in Victoria, population and community demographics, as well as local capacity.

More information on the trials can be found here.

Download the Victorian suicide prevention framework 2016-25 here. Download a summary of the Victorian suicide prevention framework 2016-25 here.

VICSERV consultation - Review of MHCSS Victoria

June 2015


In June 2015, Minister for Mental Health, The Hon Martin Foley, announced a number of significant developments to progress the Andrews Government's commitment to a clear plan for mental health in Victoria including:

  • Review of new arrangements for the delivery of Mental Health Community Support Services and Alcohol and Drug Treatment Services.
  • Development of a 10 Year Plan for Mental Health.

We were also pleased with the Minister's commitment to mutual support, self-help, peer and carer support, and release of the summary of the 2014 review by Deloittes.

In the communique, the Minister also provided an update on negotiations for the implementation of NDIS across Victoria. The communique provided key messages to the mental health sector on the Government's approach to addressing any gaps and ensuring that the mental health needs of people with mental illness and their families continue to be met:

  • The NDIS, when fully operational, will replace the majority of services currently provided under the state funded MHCSS program;
  • The Victorian Government will not duplicate services intended to be provided through the NDIS;
    What these services will comprise, and who will deliver them, is not yet determined, however, they will build on the strengths of the existing service system in Victoria;
  • The Victorian Government is committed to having an integrated community care system. The system will aim to complement the NDIS and avoid the creation of service gaps.

The MHCSS Review was conducted independently with consultations undertaken in July 2015. The final report and recommendations from the Review was provided to the Government in late August 2015.

The terms of reference for the MHCSS Review are available here.

VICSERV held a series of consultation forums to canvass views from providers to inform input to the review of MHCSS, and the development of the State Government's 10 year Mental Health Plan.

Information from these consultations was collated and contributed to VICSERV's feedback to the Review. Click here to read the cover letter, which outlines VICSERV's feedback, and click here to view the summary of issues.

Statewide Design, Service and Infrastructure Plan for Victoria's Health System


The development of Victoria's first 20 year Statewide Design, Service and Infrastructure Plan for Victoria's Health System is underway. This work is being supported by a series of major service stream plans - including the development of a high level Design, Service and Infrastructure Plan for Victoria's Clinical Mental Health System (the plan). The plan aims to provide clear direction for the design, capacity and configuration of clinical mental health services across Victoria. It will articulate the system design needed to support achievement of the outcomes in Victoria’s 10 Year Mental Health Plan, including providing the foundations for clinical service planning into the future.

Consultation on the plan is being supported through a discussion paper available on the Department of Health and Human Services website


VICSERV statement - Review of MHCSS and Alcohol and Drug Treatment Service

20 November 2015

Minister for Mental Health, The Hon Martin Foley, released the Independent Review of New Arrangements for the Delivery of Mental Health Community Support Services and Drug Treatment Services on 20 November 2015. A Ministerial media release accompanied the review, available here.

VICSERV, the peak body representing community mental health providers in Victoria, has welcomed the release of the document.

"The review highlights what consumers, carers and providers have observed first hand
- that the new community mental health support service arrangements are failing to meet the needs of many people with serious mental illness, their families and carers" says Ms Kim Koop, VICSERV CEO.

The report notes a 19 per cent drop in client numbers; barriers to accessing services; a break down in local area partnerships and a siloed service system as the defining issues of the recommissioned MHCSS arrangements.

VICSERV is concerned that the report offers no solutions to many of the mental health sector issues, other than incremental improvement over the short term, and primarily provides recommendations for future arrangements for drug treatment services, which are much needed. The report refers to the implementation of the NDIS as a key factor in considering how to mitigate or resolve issues in the MHCSS.

VICSERV believes these issues will increase, with significant impact on people, families and communities when the NDIS is implemented, starting from July next year. VICSERV has been calling on the State Government to recognise and respond to the significant issues that will arise when MHCSS funding is transferred to NDIS.

"We believe that significant numbers of people living with mental illness will not be eligible for the NDIS. Furthermore, people who are eligible will not receive, under the NDIS, the psychosocial rehabilitation provided by the Victorian community managed mental health support system that is an essential component of their recovery."

VICSERV remains concerned that, while the Government has provided assurance of safeguards for people in the transition process, we have no indications of what the next iteration of the state funded mental health support system will be. Addressing this is a matter of urgency.

"The sector is waiting on the Government's 10 year mental health strategy. Up to now there has been little indication as to what this will look like. We hope that this report is the first step towards the current government standing up and taking responsibility for ensuring better outcomes for Victoria's mental health service system." Ms Koop concludes.

To avoid further unintended consequences, VICSERV is calling on the Department of Health and Human Services to convene a meeting with MHCSS providers and the broader community mental health sector to discuss the findings of the Aspex Report and the next steps for mental health services in this State.

Outcome Measurement Project

12 October 2015

Community Mental Health Australia (CMHA) and Australian Mental Health Outcomes and Classification Network (AMHOCN) have released a report entitled 'National Community Managed Organisation (CMO) Outcome Measurement Project: Final Report'.

The report provides a review of individual outcome measurement tool use in community managed organisations nationwide and recommends the best tools for use by CMMHS. The report also identifies information infrastructure development issues to consider when introducing consumer outcome reporting to an organisation.

The report is accompanied by a guidebook that provides practical advice on introducing routine outcome measurement, according to best practice. Further information about the project is available here.

12 December 2013

Well-designed outcome measurement tools help organisations demonstrate the quality of their service provision. There has been increasing interest in routine outcome measurement in the Community Managed Organisation (CMO, also known as NGO), however the outcome measurement activities of mental health CMOs have been poorly understood.

To address this, the Department of Health Australia commissioned the Australian Mental Health Outcomes and Classification Network (AMHOCN) and Community Mental Health Australia (CMHA) to investigate outcome measures which exist in mental health and may be suitable for use in the CMO sector. The report is a result of this research and is designed to assist consumers, carers, CMOs, and funders of CMOs to understand why and how outcome measurement tools are used in community managed mental health services.

Victorian State Budget 2016/17 - VICSERV Statement

April 2016



CMHA Announces Inaugural Executive Director

8 August 2016


Community Mental Health Australia (CMHA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Amanda Bresnan as its inaugural Executive Director.

For more information about Amanda and this vital role, click here for the media release.

COAG Disability Reform Council

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Disability Reform Council provides a forum for member Governments to discuss matters of mutual interest and progress key national reform in disability policy including the NDIS.

The Disability Reform Council oversees the trial and implementation of the NDIS and will make recommendations to COAG on the transition to NDIS full scheme. The Disability Reform Council will also ensure a broad range of reforms are implemented through the National Disability Agreement and the National Disability Strategy to support people with disability, their families and carers.

You can read more about the COAG Disability Reform Council, including membership and past communiqués, here.

VICSERV October Forum: NDIS And Mental Health

On 28 October 2015, VICSERV convened a forum to assist the sector in understanding the issues and considerations around mental health under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Our first speaker was Laura Collister from MI Fellowship, who provided an overview of working with participants within the NDIS support cluster framework. Laura highlighted many new paradigms emerging out of the NDIS, such as receiving funding after service delivery, redefining eligibility and how supports fit, or do not fit, into a 'shopping list' model of care. The presentation included a short film featuring NDIS participants and carers sharing their experiences with the NDIS. You can access Laura's presentation in PDF or watch it on YouTube.

Phil Dunn from Pathways also presented, delving into organisational issues in the face of NDIS. Touching on the difficulties experienced in Barwon during the transition to NDIS, Phil illuminates several challenges and changes organisations need to be mindful of in the current environment. His presentation is available in PDF and on YouTube.

The forum also featured a Consumer and Carer Panel. Consumer Kylie McCutcheon and her advocate from Rights Information and Advocacy Center (RIAC), James Keith, shared their experience of appealing an NDIA decision not to fund Kylie's recovery supports, which left her in poorer health than before joining the NDIS. Georg Alley from MI Fellowship also weighed in on the importance of advocacy in the context of the NDIS.

Later in the forum we were joined via teleconference by NDIA Strategic Advisor, Eddie Bartnik. Eddie provided an overview of NDIS operational developments, including an update on recent NDIA consultations and carer engagement initiatives.

This presentation was followed by David Moody, from the NDS, who discussed the challenges of lean NDIS prices and how this will impact training, leadership and marketing. He also touched on the potential role of Local Area Coordination services in the context of the ILC framework. You can access David's presentation in PDF or on YouTube.

Pathways manager, Brooke Baxter, also presented on her research findings on the professional and personal experiences of mental health support workers involved in the Barwon NDIS trial site. Brooke discussed the need for organisations to be aware of relationship barriers, business pressures and the mourning needs of workers in transitioning to the NDIS.

The final panel of the day featured David Moody (NDS), Elizabeth Crowther (MI Fellowship), Phil Dunn (Pathways) and Julien McDonald (Tandem) who all provided their insights into what the key issues will be in transitioning to the NDIS, as we get closer to the roll-out dates. View the panel discussion on YouTube.