Welcome to the website that, like savebarrett.org before it, aims to advocate on behalf of those dealing with severe and complex adolescent mental health issues in Queensland.

After the public rallied in support of the Barrett community over the closure of the Barrett Adolescent Centre at Wacol in 2013/14, it has become evident that this area of mental illness – and the services required to enable those affected to lead the best lives possible – remains largely misunderstood … even amongst the most highly trained mental health clinicians. So our objective is to achieve greater understanding – for all involved.

This issue is as severe and complex as the illnesses that it encapsulates. Most people who live and work in this area are simply trying to do their best to minimise suffering and maximise recovery. We join them in that sense of purpose and, in doing so, propose that it is through collaboration that the best outcomes will be obtained. When adolescents, families, friends, carers, clinicians, educators, allied health staff, government representatives, private service providers and the wider community come together with mutual respect, motivated to ensure the best support is available, young people have the best chance to heal.

This site is one small way to try and deepen the understanding that’s needed …

  • It will provide information on what has happened, what is needed, what is planned.
  • It will share links to other resources, entities and agencies.
  • It will suggest ways – big and small – that anyone can help those who benefit so much from just knowing that people really care.
  • It will try to bring people together – encourage acknowledgement of experience, sharing of information, appreciation of insights.

All so that a group of vulnerable people who have previously been (intentionally or unintentionally) overlooked will have access to the kind of help that will make a positive difference to their lives. If any of us can do anything to support those people, we will have done something truly valuable.


This site is in honour of Talieha, Will and Caitlin … three shining lights who will never fade.




A lot of different people have been involved in the co-design process still underway for the new Adolescent Extended Treatment Facility to be built at Chermside in Brisbane. And recently the most important people so far have begun to have input – Education Queensland and Health Consumers Queensland were able to facilitate a workshop that included a number of YOUNG PEOPLE THEMSELVES, all of whom made incredibly valuable contributions that will shape many aspects of the new centre.

So now, the Department of Education would like to hear from more young people on issues like:

  • what classrooms and outdoor learning areas should look like
  • what activities the young people attending the centre should be able to participate in
  • how the centre can have as comfortable and homey environment as it possible
  • what skills and knowledge teachers at the centre should have


So …



It’s quick, easy and online.

And if young people have had experience (personally or through someone else) with mental health issues, those insights would be especially interesting to learn.
But any young person who has ideas on what might be important in a health and education centre that’s going to have residents and day students attending where the focus is on healing and hope for the future can make a really useful contribution.

The survey is at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/9WXM99Y
so please use the sharing buttons below to share this post and encourage young people to have their say.

The real experts on what works for young people are young people.
So as many insights as possible from those who know will ensure that the new centre has the best chance of being the place that everyone is hoping it will be.

Consumers/Carers Wanted for Workshop on Non-Government Mental Health Services

The Mental Health Alcohol and Other Drugs Branch of Queensland Health are holding a workshop to identify practical examples or indicators of quality mental health services as delivered by non-government organisations on Friday 23 March. 

[Note: this does not focus specifically on youth related services so anyone with experience with any NGO providing mental health services will have useful insights.]

The MHAODB are seeking (10) consumers or carers (each of whom  will be remunerated $40 per hour as per the Department’s Renumeration Policy) who have had experiences with NGOs to attend the workshop:

at 111 George Street, Brisbane
between 10am and 1pm (lunch will be provided)
on 23 March 2018

To ensure regional representation, the Department is able to support two consumers from a regional area with flights and other travel.

Areas of particular interest are consumer and carer experiences in relation to:

  •  Recovery orientated practice
  •  Individualised recovery plans
  • Consumer and carer involvement
  • Client safety and risk management
  • Least restrictive practices
  • Inclusion and managing diversity
  • Human Resources and workforce (training)
  • Connections and referral pathways

So Expressions of Interest from participants who can contribute to discussions on these areas and represent diverse perspectives and backgrounds including culturally and linguistically diverse, LGBTIQ, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and regional Queensland will be welcomed.

Click on this link to go the Survey Monkey page where you can fill in the form to electronically lodge your Expression of Interest in participating.

Anything that moves the state towards a full complement of services that ensure all needs are met is a vital activity. We hope some of you will be in a position to contribute your unique perspectives.

Support/Resources for Youth Issues with Alcohol and Other Drugs

Thanks to the Alcohol and other Drugs Team at Qld Health’s MHAODB (Mental Health Alcohol and Other Drugs Branch), we’ve now be able to add some useful online and phone-based resources for young people and their families encountering issues with alcohol and other drugs to the severeyouthmentalhealth site.

There are several options available – some focussed on young people, others on classroom education and there’s support too for carers who find themselves in situations where they need to learn more or discover ways to assist young people in finding the help that’s right for them.

Depending on people’s circumstances, some of these online resources might lead to other forms of support or treatment while others might help those who have already completed a program or treatment by providing some self-management tools that are easily accessible. As with so many aspects of healthcare, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. But with our focus being online for so much of our lives, a range of options that have accurate information and proven helpful strategies at our fingertips may be a useful starting point.

Links to these newly added Alcohol and Other Drugs resources are now – along with all the links to youth mental health resources – on our USEFUL LINKS page. So if you know someone who might benefit, feel free to send them to:




AND do let us know if you have discovered or know of any other online resources that might be of use to include on that page. New sites and new understandings about treatment and support are developing all the time so we want to make sure that people have access to the things that work for them!


Federal Funding Boost for Youth Mental Health. But …

The federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, today announced a financial package of more than $100 million to support strategies targeting young mental health issues, stating:

“Programs for beyondblue, Headspace, Origin and Kids Helpline and Reach Out and others are all about ensuring that we provide assistance before the problems emerge and when they do emerge there are avenues for treatment and avenues for people to seek emergency help.”

Some of funds will be distributed as follows:

  • $46 million has been allocated to beyondblue’s integrated school-based Mental Health in Education initiative (a new national program to encourage good mental health and wellbeing practices operating from early learning centres to the end of secondary school where the aim is to give parents and educators the tools to recognise the early warning signs of mental health challenges and deal with them through access to a range of face-to-face or online mental health programs)
  • $13.5m has been allocated to the Orygen National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health which Orygen Executive Director, Professor Patrick McGorry, indicated would to maintain youth mental health services including Headspace centres throughout Australia*
  • Kids Helpline, ReachOut, Suicide Callback Service and QLife will share an additional $2 million over two years for telephone, webchat and online mental health help.

* While the Guardian quoted Professor McGorry as saying that the funding would not provide for any new centres, ABC News stated that “more Headspace centres will be set up across Australia, with a funding boost of $30 million”


as those affected by severe and complex youth mental health issues know all too well:

…while a lot of young people get access to help through Headspace, one third of those who go to headspace are too complex for headspace alone, and they become trapped in a bottleneck in the system where they can’t get the specialised care they need.”

Patrick McGorry, 8 January 2018

So Professor McGorry made very clear that this financial injection must be just the beginning.  “We need to finish the job of national coverage,. … What’s really missing is expert, team-based care that organisations like Orygen provide, and which is in very short supply.

The Orygen founder emphasised the importance of further funding  to meet complex care needs, listing some specifics that needed addressing as:

  • the lifting of 10-session cap on allied mental health sessions, and
  • a significant allocation of funds for mobile and home-based interventions.

These are just SOME of the things that all mental health peak bodies and advocates MUST continue to lobby for.

Those at the severe and complex end of the spectrum are too often overlooked – perhaps because they are smaller in number than those for whom Headspace and other early intervention programs can achieve positive outcomes. But the more severe and complex, the more serious the ongoing impact on young people, their family, friends and wider community. The suffering that many endure is impossible for most people to imagine. Severe and complex youth mental health issues are 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week. So professional management of the multiple services that are inevitably required will be a key aspect of delivery.

Available and accessible integrated, multidisciplinary programs that encompass treatment, education/training and rehabilitation are vital. And until those are adequately funded on an ongoing basis, the government still has much to do to make mental health the priority that it must be.


Mental Health the MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE to Young People

The Annual Mission Australia Youth Survey has, for the first time in its history, found that the most important issue to Australian young people is MENTAL HEALTH.

The survey report reveals that concerns about mental health have doubled since 2015 and tripled since 2011. Other top issues of national concern included alcohol and drugs and equity and discrimination. … Many of the personal concerns reported by young people relate to their own mental health, including coping with stress, body image and depression, and mental health was also identified by many young people as a possible barrier to achieving their work or study goals after school. This reinforces that much more needs to be done to ensure that young people can access the right mental health supports when they need them.
From Highlights from the 2017 Youth Survey at https://www.missionaustralia.com.au/what-we-do/research-evaluation/youth-survey

This only serves to emphasise how vital the right mental health supports” for young people are and that including young people themselves in the process of developing these services is the only way to ensure that what is available meets their needs. This means that the contributions of those with direct experience of caring for young people with mental health issues is essential as not only can severe and/or complex youth mental health issues unfortunately prohibit the active involvement of some young people themselves but carers and families have their own needs and issues and clinical professionals in treatment roles have valuable perspectives.
Working TOGETHER –  respecting and valuing the input of every individual with relevant experience – will always achieve the best outcomes. And that’s what Australia’s young people need.



Any young person or carer in Queensland who is not currently making an active contribution to the PLANNING of the BEST services possible to support young people with mental health issues can do so if they wish. To find out ways to directly participate, contact HEALTH CONSUMERS QUEENSLAND via:

EMAIL TO LEONIE SANDERSON (the Engagement Advisor specifically for Youth Mental Health): Leonie.Sanderson@hcq.org.au
PHONE: 07 3012 9090
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/healthconsumersqueensland

NOTE: There are always ways that your privacy and identity can be protected should that be a priority.
The range of contribution/involvement approaches allow for different levels and types of commitment. These span online surveys or email/phone comments via HCQ  TO active membership of committees/groups/workshops to achieve specific objectives.

The severeyouthmentalhealth website also endeavours to keep people updated as to particular activities underway via the Get Involved! page


The full Mission Australia report, along with
  • an infographics document of 2 pages which illustrates the key findings of the survey and
  • an analysis which compares responses from major cities and regional areas
is available from the Mission Australia website here

In addition, news reports with summary information and regional relevance are accessible via the links below:

The Brisbane Times – Mental Health the Number Issue for Young Queenslanders

NewsCorp – Young Australians worry most about mental health, Mission Australia survey finds

The World Today, ABC – Mental health ‘biggest national issue’ for young people – survey (audio)

The Educator – Students’ mental health concerns double since 2015 – survey

The West Australian – Mental health an increasing concern for young West Aussies, survey reveals


If you feel that information in this post may be useful/interesting to others who might not be regular visitors to severeyouthmentalhealth.org, please use the social media buttons below to share. Thanks! 




NATIONAL Developments in Mental Health Services


The National Mental Health Commission is developing a long-term monitoring and reporting framework to bring a national perspective to mental health and suicide prevention through the lens of consumers and carers and their experiences. This will enable the Commission to deliver an independent, consistent and comprehensive account of reform progress and support the Commission’s new role to monitor and report the implementation of the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan (see next item for more on the Plan).


The national consultation process on the draft Framework (being conducted from 16 October to 13 November 2017 and involving workshops in capital cities across Australia) will engage a broad cross-section of stakeholders in government, primary health networks, mental health peak bodies and service providers and professional bodies with consumers and carers seen as key representatives with invaluable input to provide.
Attendees of the workshops will receive a copy of the draft Framework at least one week in advance and an on-line portal for submissions will also be conducted during this timeframe.

The aim is for the Commission to receive targeted feedback on the draft Framework’s priorities, potential gaps, and the availability of data to support the monitoring and reporting of mental health and suicide prevention in Australia.

This consultation NEEDS the voices of those with LIVED EXPERIENCE.


The Brisbane workshop is from 9.30am – 2.00pm on Monday 30 October and Hotel Jen on Roma Street, Brisbane and attendance is FREE. If you’d like to register to attend, you can go directly to the booking page at this link or for more information about this or other workshop locations, contact vanessa.d’souza@mentalhealthcommission.gov.au or via www.mentalhealthcommission.gov.au

Online Consultation Survey

For those who can’t attend the workshop, you can provide your input via the online survey here. Or if you’d like to enquire about other ways to contribute, Nous Group (who are working with the Commission to develop the national Framework) can be contacted on nhmc.mrf@nousgroup.com.au.



With seemingly little publicity, Australia’s Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan was released on 14 October. The press release*  indicates that:

A particular focus of the Plan is addressing eating disorders. These can have a catastrophic impact on both individuals and their families. It will be a personal priority as we frame further policy in the future. The Plan includes eight nationally agreed priority areas and 32 coordinated actions for the next five years with a view to achieving an integrated mental health system. A key priority area is strengthening regional integration of mental health services to support more effective treatments for those in need.

[* The press release also mentions HEAD TO HEALTH, the federal government’s digital mental health resources site. It’s a very user-friendly interface where consumers and carers can access a range of service providers, support for specific mental health issues etc. so you might want to check it out.]

So, as stated above, since the role of the NMHC is to monitor and report the implementation of the plan, those ‘on the ground’ are in a key position to provide input on if those tasks are being carried out effectively. So ongoing/intermittment contact with the activities of the NMHC will be valuable.  On the home page of the National Mental Health Commission, there’s a ‘Get Involved’ box where you can sign up to receive eNews updates so that could be a useful way to stay informed.

OR …


The NMHCCF provides a mechanism for mental health consumers and carers to foster partnerships and to ensure input of consumers and carers into the activities of the mental health sector, including policy, service delivery and evaluation of reform in Australia. And the Queensland Mental Health Commission is overseeing the recruitment of:

  • a Queensland CONSUMER representative and
  • a Queensland CARER representative

General information on these roles – which are remunerated – can be found here and the Operating Guidelines for the NMHCCF (including Terms of Reference for the rep roles) are here. The closing date for Expressions of Interest in the roles is 17 November.


One thing that must be said after all these opportunities for involvement are listed is that WE KNOW that those directly affected by severe and complex youth mental health issues are rarely in a position to be able to attend workshops, regular meetings or commit to an engagement role on an ongoing basis. So we will always try and find ways that you, within the context of your lives, can provide feedback – whether it be via online surveys, direct contact (phone/email) with those managing a consultation process OR by utilising the amazingly dedicated services of Health Consumers Queensland as a conduit. Leonie Sanderson’s role is to represent the needs of those affected in this area so you can get in touch with her for her advice on how your own experiences and ideas can be communicated to those who can utilise those to change service provision and attitudes. We can’t avoid working with bureaucracies, large business-like entities and others in official capacities who don’t always have a true understanding of the daily lives of people in the cohort for which they’re planning. These people are the ones who can make the services what they need to beSo we’ll always be endeavouring to find ways that those who LIVE severe adolescent mental issues can pass on their vital insights to those who provide the services available to support the people whose needs are so great.


Stage II of development of improved services begins

With the first stage of the implementation of the Barrett Inquiry recommendations predominantly completed (as Rec #1 requires a review across Queensland Health and not just in relation to youth mental health, the acceptance of the related report is still pending) it’s worth looking back on how things progressed in relation to consumer/carer involvement, thanks to the Health Consumers Queensland video put together by Leonie Sanderson. Another very interesting video on how things have progressed is that of the first Plenary Session at HCQ’s Annual Forum where the initial stage of the co-design process for youth mental health services is the focus.

There seems to be unanimous agreement on the success so far of the involvement of those with lived experience – particularly in relation to the value placed on and respect given to consumer/carer participants. So the natural progression has been that the new committees and working groups currently being put together to work on the next stage of service development will again include a number of consumer and carer representatives.  Following the call for Expressions of Interest from people interested in taking on roles in the upcoming process, the resulting group of individuals selected has created a useful mix of those who were involved with the initial stage and new contributors. This bodes well for input that will represent a range of perspectives as well as the positive outcomes that can come from the productive combination of fresh ideas and experience.

Orientation Meeting

In order to acquaint all the successful consumer/carer reps for the next stage with
(a) the upcoming process
(b) each other and
(c) the relevant government staff members (from the Education Department and Capital Works as well as, of course, from Queensland Health)
an Orientation Meeting was held on the 6th of October.

As well as covering the necessary administrative issues, participants were able to connect with each other and with Leonie Sanderson and Melissa Fox of Health Consumers Queensland (HCQ) – who will again be facilitating the consumer/carer engagement. There was also a preliminary presentation on the overview of the program of work to be undertaken and the consumer/carer roles within that.

It’s hoped that there will be opportunities for others to participate in various ways as things progress so, if you’re interested, you can check in regularly at the dedicated HCQ page OR head there now and sign up to receive email updates on developments. Note: You can sign up for updates purely related to the post-Barrett Inquiry action AND/OR for any other consumers/carer opportunities to engage in other kinds of service planning and support across the Health sector. If you do the latter, you hear about opportunities like the following:

1.) Consumer/Carer Registrations for 1st Asia Pacific Conference on Integrated Care

HCQ has been given a number of registrations for consumers/carers to attend the three day conference at the Brisbane Convention Centre from 8 – 10 November. (Please note that these registrations cover only the cost of attendance and nothing additional in relation to travel, accommodation etc.)

The Congress is a partnership between The International Foundation of Integrated Care (IFIC), The Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service, Queensland Health Clinical Excellence Division, the University of Queensland and the Centre for Remote and Rural Mental Health. You can view the draft program here or click on the link here or in the title above to find out more about applying for the HCQ registrations.

2.) 5th Annual North Brisbane Partners in Recovery Forum

Registrations are still available to attend this forum which will be held on Thursday 2 November 2017 at Victoria Park, Herston. Because it includes keynote speakers with a focus on connecting mental and physical health and wellbeing , it seems appropriate to include it in this update.

North Brisbane Partners in Recovery‘ suggests that the following people attend:

  • frontline mental health workers and other community workers with an interest in mental health
  • health and community service managers, researchers and policy makers
  • consumer and carer representatives, volunteers, peer workers and management committee members.

To book, you can head to this event booking page or to find out more, contact danielle.francisco@brisbanenorthphn.org.au or 07 3630 7344.

And, as always, severeyouthmentalhealth.org will endeavour to keep site visitors and followers updated on any developments and issues relating mental health services for young people with severe and complex issues, particularly in Queensland.

Thanks to all our regular and new supporters. The more that people with compassion and personal understanding can engage in the development of services, the better the future will be for the young people and their families who need and deserve the best possible support.

Needed: Lived Experience reps to guide youth mental health services going forward


N.B. Closing Date for Submissions is Thursday, 7 September


YOU can have direct input into the development of the new facility AND the other vital new services for young people with severe and complex mental health issues in Queensland. 

Health Consumers Queensland are seeking Expressions of Interest for consumer and carer representatives for the following:

Overarching Committee chaired by the Deputy-Director General, Clinical Excellence Division, Department of Health to ensure processes are monitored and advice/direction is provided to support timely and successful delivery of the AETF, StepUp/StepDown Units and new adolescent Day Programs.
Project Oversight Group to oversee delivery of the program of capital works i.e. resolving design and coordination issues and providing advice to the Committee on risks and actions for resolution. (Meetings held monthly.)
Co-design consultation: A range of workshops seeking health consumer input/expertise for detailed design, model of service and integrated educational/vocational services.

Go to this page of the HCQ website for more info and to download the Expression of Interest form to be emailed to Leonie Sanderson by midday Thursday 7 September 2017.

Please phone Leonie on 0437 637 033 if you are interested in applying but are unable to submit by this date.


Just the beginning …

The response to the Barrett Commission of Inquiry has reached an important stage. The MHAOD (Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs) Branch of Queensland Health is finalising the work required of it in relation to the recommendations that came from Justice Wilson’s report. The majority of the actions committed to by the current government in its Inquiry response involved analysis or exploratory activities that would lay the foundation for the development of practical changes in approach to future service provision i.e. in order to “improve service agreements …; evaluations…; transitions…; and coordination between services”, the current status of all of these things must be assessed/mapped. And, as a result of the research, appraisal and consultation, recommendations for future actions have now been put to the government for their decisions on whether/how things might progress. A summary of – and links to – the reports can be found on the August update on the Developments page of this site.

Of course it’s hoped by all those who have put so much time and effort into achieving what has been accomplished over the past year that this – or any future government – will continue what has been a productive beginning. Particularly because all contributors know that Queensland’s young people with severe and complex mental health issues and their families – and those who will exist in the future – have the most at stake.

It’s important to bear in mind that most bureaucratic processes can take extended periods of time and that what has been achieved so far has been done within a timeframe that would overpower many teams of public servants. But those involved have been able to accomplish a considerable amount. And, as a result of this process,  a dedicated Child and Youth Mental Health Team has been established within the MHAODB of Queensland Health, ensuring system leadership for child and youth mental health policy and planning. This can only lead to positive developments for children and young people and their families whose unique needs deserve specific representation at this level so it’s a very valuable step.

As well as acknowledging the focussed staff within Queensland Health, deep appreciation must be expressed to the amazingly passionate consumer and carer representatives whose contributions have significantly shaped the outcomes to date. Those in the position to provide invaluable perspectives are often also those for whom making the time and energy for meetings, forums etc. can be a considerable challenge. So anyone facing personal hurdles who overcame those to contribute in any way deserves our sincere gratitude and admiration. Thanks to the seamless and enthusiastic facilitation of Health Consumers Queensland, we know that the recommendations that are being put to government have been genuinely and appropriately influenced by those with lived experience. Both Qld Health Deputy Director General Dr John Wakefield and the Managing Director of the consulting firm undertaking the design of the new extended treatment facility have clearly stated that, without the input of those who have lived with the reality of severe and complex adolescent mental health issues, what is being presented to the government would have been quite different.

We now await the policy decisions of this or the next government (depending on when the next state election takes place) to find out if/how this strong foundation might grow into life changing approaches to mental healthcare.

Because, with generations of young Queenslanders still at risk, this is clearly only the beginning. And continued commitment to improving the services for some of the most vulnerable across our communities is not only logical and financially sound … it is the obligation of those with the ultimate authority to provide an adequate system of resources for the people of the state.

As we note this promising start , however, we can never allow ourselves to forget those who have been lost and those who have experienced such loss and irreparable damage.
They are always in our thoughts.
They drive us to do better.
And, for them, we will always do what we can to create a more understanding and healing world for those that are to come.


Progress Report – June 2017

A summary on the progress of the implementation of the recommendations to improve mental health services for those affected by severe and complex adolescent mental health issues in Queensland is now on the DEVELOPMENTS page at severeyouthmentalhealth.org. This includes links to more detail via the Queensland Health Communiqués released following each Steering Committee meeting as well as  other recently tabled reports.

A couple of documents that are likely to be of particular interest are those relating to RECOMMENDATION #4 – THE DEVELOPMENT OF A NEW ADOLESCENT EXTENDED TREATMENT FACILITY (AETF). The Thematic Analysis Report summarises the web feedback provided on the draft Model of Service for the AETF so whether or not you were in a position to complete the online survey, the feedback from that makes for interesting reading. In addition, there is an External Review of the Model of Service by Dr Paul Robertson, a Victorian based child and adolescent psychiatrist of 25 years experience, who undertook consultations with a number of groups and individuals as well as being given access to relevant documentation. His insights will undoubtedly also play in a role in the development of not only the new facility but will encourage a strong focus on the full continuum of care for young people with mental health issues in Queensland (the child and youth mental health services continuum ie. CYMHSC, as Dr Robertson refers to it) and the ongoing co-design process i.e. “A structure to support ongoing consumer and carer participation in the broader CYMHSC system is recommended“.

So a complete and integrated CYMHSC system that will allow access across the state for all young people with mental health issues to a full range of treatment and other service options will be a key issue in the future. This will not only ensure stable and informed transitions from one care/education/support service to another but will hopefully mean that some young people who might otherwise have needed extended inpatient care could achieve recovery without that. For, although the clinical experts who gave evidence at the Barrett Inquiry made clear that there will always be a group of young people whose conditions and individual circumstances are so severe and complex that community-based care will not adequately support their progress, the objective is always to facilitate recovery in the least restrictive environment possible. Queensland needs a statewide service like the AETF but it also needs a complete system within which collaboration and communication are the foundation of operations. Mental health issues impact all aspects of people’s lives and when the individual needs and situations of those suffering are acknowledged, understood and met as effectively and immediately as possible, all our communities will benefit. So Dr Robertson’s urging that collaborative planning does not begin and end with a new facility is extremely pertinent.

He also stresses the need for RESEARCH to be a key component of the new AETF i.e.

Reference is made to the AETF undertaking research. It should be obliged to collect sufficient data to allow appropriate review of its functioning. Adequate resources, funding and time should be allocated for this to occur. Research will not occur without appropriate funding and partnerships with universities or other research organisations. Both appropriate data collection and analysis and research would require an active and resourced plan.

Existing and developing technologies should ensure that research extends beyond the new facility and across all the components of the CYMHSC. Collecting data on the services that precede and follow a young AETF patient’s inpatient treatment – will provide insights into this cohort of young people that is currently lacking across the globe. AND compiling extensive evidence on all youth mental health issues must be seen as a priority in a country where available data states that one in four young Australians currently has a mental health condition [ABS National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results 2007 (2008), p 9] and we are regularly made aware that the risk in our youth population only continues to grow. So methods of gathering and collating information on the challenges faced by our young people that not only avoid any negative impact on the vulnerable but may, in fact, have potential for therapeutic benefit require prioritised consideration.

The STATEWIDE FORUMS facilitated by the Health and Education Departments along with Health Consumers Queensland have now concluded and summary information from those should soon become available. Consumers and carer representatives attended these with the support of HCQ and, with a number of factors influencing the ability of local consumers and carers to attend, it has also been invaluable to have Leonie Sanderson, the dedicated HCQ Engagement Advisor, continually open to accepting input via a range of communication avenues (surveys, emails, teleconferences and meetings for specific subgroups) to ensure that anyone in Queensland with insights into service provision in this area have had – and will continue to have – their voices heard.

THE ROLE OF HEALTH CONSUMERS QUEENSLAND has been extremely important in the process so far – supporting and facilitating the active involvement of consumers and carers. And HCQ’s enthusiasm for the project was highlighted when they made it the theme of the Plenary Session at their annual forum (video and written info on that session is available here), with Katherine Moodie and Jeannine Kimber – two of the consumer/carer representatives on the Steering Committee – on the panel alongside John Allan, Executive Director, MHAODB, Queensland Health; Gunther De Graeve, the Managing Director of the consulting firm undertaking the design of the new AETF; and Stacie Hansel, Executive Director, Dept Education & Training. The discussion highlighted the great potential of this project to not only produce innovative and more effective outcomes but to influence the way that future service planning should proceed. Participants significantly endorsed the tangible value of consumer/carer input as Gunther De Graeve stated:

There has been an enormous change in our design development, actually, through this process. … This co-design process really allowed us to reach very deep into the operational requirements, into the therapeutic requirements, the day-to-day requirements and then safety overlays etc. of this facility and it gave us a very wide platform. Traditionally, this engagement goes to clinicians and nursing staff and therapeutic staff and very little with the consumers. … It was a genuine process of actually trying to understand what the needs were and, to date, I still say that if we didn’t do that process we would have designed a very different facility and it probably wouldn’t have been – definitely not – as therapeutic as that facility could be for the patients.

So, as progress goes, it would seem that in many ways we are at the beginning of something bigger than a response to the Inquiry recommendations. Although the planning for the new AETF is well underway and the examination of transition procedures, service agreements and other vital elements that underlay the provision of services has been undertaken, the potential of this project to have an effect on other aspects of service delivery (education, vocational training, support for carers and families, justice and legal issues, housing and accommodation etc.), of approaches and attitudes to mental health and to ALL those affected by these issues must make this project only the start. People with lived experience must have a permanent seat at the table – not just on listening tours and wider consultation but at levels of decision-making and influence. And that includes not only consumers of services and their carers and families but those professionals who have dedicated years of clinical, educational and other practice to these consumers and carers. Those who work daily to improve the lives of others by being part of the reality, by knowing the individuals and supporting them in their journey must always be encouraged to give insights on the practicalities, the impediments, the successes.

Only through true collaboration will success be achieved. And if there is any area in which we must achieve, it is in keeping our young people alive and giving them hope for a better life.