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An update on reform from the Minister for Mental Health

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Mental Health Matters:

An update on reform from the Minister for Mental Health

As many of you know, last year’s record mental health package included $549.8 million to establish the Coordinated Support and Flexible Funding for People with Severe, Persistent Mental Illness and Complex Needs measure, also known as the Partners in Recovery (PIR) initiative.

PIR will adopt a revolutionary new approach to providing better coordinated and integrated support for approximately 24,000 Australians living with the most severe and chronic forms of mental illness.

Support facilitators, employed by PIR organisations, will bring together the multiple services and supports required to meet the complex needs of people living with severe and persistent mental illness. They will help connect and coordinate existing services and programs - from mental health, to accommodation and housing support, to employment services.

Since May, the Department of Health and Ageing has been working closely with the sector, experts, consumers and carers to develop PIR. Things are progressing well, and I thought it would be timely to provide an update on this important work.

 Stakeholder workshops have been held by the Mental Health Council of Australia and the Australian General Practice Network to support early stakeholder input to the development of the operational model. I encourage you to read the reports from both workshops, which are available at and also from the MHCA and AGPN websites.

 The Department of Health and Ageing has also held discussions with mental health directors in each State and Territory to identify key issues and explore lessons learnt from existing care coordination efforts.

 An Expert Reference Group has been established to provide cross-sectoral leadership and help guide the development and implementation of the initiative. I have attached a list of members of the ERG. The ERG comprises experts not only from the mental health field, but also areas including primary care, housing and homelessness, drug and alcohol, employment, and income support. Importantly, we’ve made sure the group also includes a mental health consumer and carer to ensure the initiative reaches out to those people who need it the most. The ERG held its third meeting just yesterday and will continue to meet over the coming months.

This important work will continue in the coming months:

 My Department will work with the ERG and stakeholders to finalise the operational details of PIR - including the inclusion criteria, exit criteria, and the roles of PIR organisations and support facilitators.

 In the second half of this year, the Department will engage suitably placed and experienced non-government organisations to deliver PIR in Medicare Local regions. PIR organisations will initially focus on building their organisational and workforce capacity and expertise, ready to roll out PIR from 2013.

 We will also enlist external expertise to develop and implement a monitoring and evaluation framework, and to develop a suite of resources to guide and support PIR organisations in their role.

I hope you have found this update useful and I am always happy to hear from you by contacting me at:


Mark Butler Minister for Mental Health and Ageing Minister for Social Inclusion Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Mental Health Reform

Partners in Recovery Expert Reference Group - Membership

Name of Member Interests being represented

Ms Fiona Nicholls (Chair) Assistant Secretary, Mental Health Services Branch Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing

Ms Janet Meagher Mental health consumers

Ms Judy Bentley Mental health carers

Dr Julian Freidin Alfred Hospital

Homelessness and mental health

Mr David Meldrum Chief Executive Officer, Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia

NGO Mental Health

Dr Cassandra Goldie Chief Executive Officer, Australian Council of Social Services

NGO Community Services

Professor Alison Ritter Director, Drug Modelling Program National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre University of New South Wales

NGO Alcohol and other Drugs

Mr Frank Quinlan Chief Executive Officer, Mental Health Council of Australia Mental Health Council of Australia Associate Professor Morton Rawlin Vice President and Chair Royal Australian College of General Practitioners

Health Systems

Ms Leanne Wells Chief Executive Officer, Australian General Practice Network

Medicare Locals and Primary Care

Ms Sally Sinclair Chief Executive Officer, National Employment Services Association

Employment Services

Ms Jill Farrelly Assistant Secretary, Mental Health and Autism Branch

Commonwealth Department of Families, Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

Ms Pam Saunders National Manager, Intensive Services Branch Disability, Carers and Older Australians Division Department of Human Services

Income Support

Ms Elizabeth Powell Executive Director Division of Mental Health and Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Services, QLD Department of Health

States and Territory Mental Health

Ms Karen Price Associate Director, Mental Health Clinical Policy Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol Office NSW Department of Health

States and Territory Mental Health

Mr Pier de Carlo Director, Alcohol and Other Drug Policy and Planning VIC Health

State and Territory AOD

Ms Deb Tsorbaris Director, Client Services & Programs Branch Housing and Community Building Division Victorian Department of Human Services

State and Territory Housing