Opportunity for Brisbane North peer workers

A ‘Community of Practice‘ is a group of people, each with a mutual concern/ passion who, through sharing information and experiences, develop personally and professionally.

And the Brisbane North PHN is setting up a Community of Practice aimed at those currently employed in, or volunteering in, lived experience roles in the region.

Because  many peer workers don’t have access to Peer Supervision and some peer reflection and group supervision with other peers can be extremely helpful, this is a great opportunity. BUT NUMBERS ARE LIMITED! And Expressions of Interest need to be in by Monday 25 May.

So if you’re interested, you’ll need to put in an EOI ASAP.

Click here to find out more.

Hope for real change in a post-COVID future

Yesterday, former PM Julia Gillard in her role as Chair of Beyond Blue wrote an article that is truly important.
It not only highlights the fact that a national mental health response and recovery plan related to COVID-19 will be vital but indicates that irrespective of the pandemic and its implications, Australia “went into this crisis with a mental health system in need of profound change”.

We cannot ignore the fact that many people with mental health issues prior to the events of the last few months will be severely impacted by many aspects of the pandemic and the changes it has imposed on us. But it’s also important to acknowledge that anxiety and depression will be impacting those unfamiliar with mental challenges prior to this significant global event.

Julia Gillard, as well as reporting on what has already been noted about people’s use of and need for the right support to this point, underlines the ongoing positive implications of the fact that this crisis has demonstrated the capacity of the mental health community to “swiftly design and implement reforms which impact behaviour, improve outcomes, and which the community will embrace.” Our capacity to find ways to connect, adapt and collaborate have been adept and creative. So …

“We need to keep this spirit alive as we work to build a mental health system in which people seeking support have options that match their needs. We must use this opportunity to close some of the structural gaps in the system and address affordability.”

In a challenging period for the world, it’s important to find positives. And we can have hope that a country with the capacity to acknowledge an urgent need for change and take swift and decisive action is one that can apply a similar approach to critical issues beyond the pandemic. That a government that is able to take a bipartisan approach to ensure the health of its citizens should utilise the same method when lives are at stake in epidemic proportions in the way we see mental health issues having such a devastating effect outside the impacts of a pandemic.

We shall be expecting a lot from our health and other support services when the acute period of this COVID-19 crisis is behind us. But now we know that they are able to rise to such challenges, those expectations should be able to be met. And we have a right to insist that they are.

Saving lives is what had driven the unprecedented response of governments across the world to the spread of the coronavirus. And saving lives is what is always at the heart of what we demand of our mental health support services in any situation. We must always seek to find and expect the best ways to save lives … from ending AND from the dire consequences of deep suffering due to trauma, hopelessness and the many other torments of mental illness.

Julia Gillard states in her article that:

“the current shock can be what pushes us forward and delivers some of the changes people, families and communities have long needed.”

So we move towards a future armed with the knowledge that our governments can and will act in urgent circumstances. And we should accept nothing less long after this pandemic is over.

Significant change is something long overdue for mental health systems across Australia. And with the best evidence possible that systems can be altered dramatically when required, this crisis may provide us with the impetus to create a future that is not “back to normal” but ahead to the development of a system that finally genuinely responds to the needs of those it seeks to help.


You can read Julia Gillard’s article in full HERE (OR IN PDF FORMAT HERE).

Australia’s Youth Health Forum needs YOU

  • Are you aged 18 – 30?
  • Do you use the health and social care system or help someone who does?
  • Would you like to work with a diverse group of young people?
  • Do you have ideas about how we could change health and wellbeing services?
  • Are you interested in gaining leadership, advocacy and policy skills?
  • COVID-19 is disrupting the world as we know it and will force us to reimagine the services we want in the future. Do you want to have a voice in shaping that?

In 2018 the Consumers Health Forum (CHF) launched their Youth Health Forum – a group of young healthcare users who are passionate about making the system more youth-friendly and interested in gaining advocacy skills. So far they have been involved in a number of national policy discussions like the Primary Health Care 10 year plan and the National Obesity Strategy. (And you can find out more about their progress at these posts on the CHF site.)

RIGHT NOW the CHF is looking to grow and develop this platform for young voices and is inviting Expressions of Interest for new members.

Click here for more details and
To apply, complete and submit this online form or this MS Word form.

This is YOUR chance to shape the health services you and other young people access. AND gain some valuable skills in the process.

Take your experience to the people that provide the services … and make healthcare work better for people like you!

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Mental Health Resources

The following are focused on Queensland/Australia but there are some international resources. Included are some links with useful general advice as well as services for those with pre-existing mental health issues and their carers. Please note that this is not a comprehensive list. If you know of other resources that would be useful, please leave a comment and this list will be added to whenever possible.

Take care, everyone. Look after yourself as well as the significant things you are doing for other people. (And you are ALL doing that – any changes you’ve made will be saving others from having to deal with challenging health issues – so acknowledge your contribution and make sure you take the best care you can of your mental health.)

Head to Health – helping you find the right digital mental health resources for your needs
MindSpot Online assessment and treatment for anxiety and depression
ReachOut – Coping during coronavirus (COVID-19)
KidsHelpline (for ages 5yrs-25yrs)– tips and advice as well as ACCESS TO 24/7 support via phone (FREE) 1800 55 1800, email counselling, or  web chat
Beyond Blue COVID-19 mental health support service
Black Dog Institute – COVID-19 mental health and wellbeing resources
Headspace –  How to cope with stress related to coronavirus (COVID-19)
#InThisTogether – the National Mental Health Commission page with tips and links to help with mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus crisis
Queensland Mental Health Commission – COVID-19 and Mental Health
Australian Psychological Society – tips for coping with coronavirus anxiety
Arafmi – 24hr carer helpline at 1300 554 660 and online carer support groups
Blue Knot (National Centre of Excellence for Complex Trauma) – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Factsheets
Australian BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) Foundation Ltd – video ‘Strategies for getting through COVID-19 lockdown for people with BPD
Red Cross – tips for looking after your mental wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic
World Health Organisation – Mental health and psychosocial considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak

NEEDED: Youth Peer Worker for Jacaranda Place

If you’re a young person with lived experience of mental illness who has experienced recovery, you can – with specialised training – support others with mental health difficulties by providing hope and modelling positive strategies and outcomes.

The new Extended Treatment Centre for young people at Chermside in Brisbane will have a number of Peer Workers and Children’s Health Queensland (CHQ) have just begun advertising for an:

 Advanced Peer Worker (Youth)
(click above to go to job listing)

As well as sharing your own lived experience and life stories, you will encourage self-awareness and self-determination in those at a different stage of recovery. You’ll be part of the development, planning and delivery of support services to consumers, carers and families and your capacity to model recovery strategies will allow service providers and Non-Government Organisations (NGO’s) to develop a better understanding of the best framework to achieve positive outcomes for young people and their families.


There are healthcare staff and education staff and other people with qualifications and skills who can help young people with mental health issues. But no one has the expertise of a young person who has lived experience.

Being a Peer Worker in this field is an incredibly valuable role. Not only do you know better than most how it feels to be in the position of the young people who’ll need Jacaranda Place … but you know that the most important people in the lives of young people can be OTHER young people. You’re not at a distance considering what their life might be like. You’re them but just further along the recovery path. So a Peer Worker at the new centre will be a key member of the team.

To find out more, go to the job advertisement by clicking here.

There, you can also access the Role Description and a general Information package about working for Children’s Health Queensland (the Hospital and Health Service responsible for the new AETC).

If you’re in recovery and you feel you could help others along the way to a better future, consider applying for this position.

You could make a real difference in the lives of people who need to know it’s possible.

Times Like These

For those suffering from mental health issues, what’s happening in the world right now will be particularly challenging. The unpredictability. The change. Those are the kryptonite of the anxious.

The ‘unprecedented’ nature of the current situation might feel overwhelming. But as I think about the courageous young people I have met and heard about over the last 7 years, I can’t avoid the fact that they have resources of tenacity and strength that I previously didn’t know existed.

This is indisputably true.

It’s not empty flattery or encouragement. It is a fact.

I once wrote a children’s story about what ‘brave’ is. The message is simply that brave is feeling fear and still trying. And young people with severe mental health issues do that every day. Just when they think they’ve felt the worst that they could feel, their brain throws a curveball and it seems like maybe the thought or feeling right now is even worse than that. That’s the nature of mental illness.

And yet, these amazing young people keeping going.
They put one foot in front of the other.
They breathe in. They breathe out.
And time passes.
And something that might not have seemed possible happens … 
One day they realise that they don’t feel quite as bad as they did.

That they’ve done some things and maybe interacted with some people.
And they might just have reached the other side of that torrent of fear. 

Not in an instant. 
Not like a switch turning off.
But gradually, bit by bit. Getting through it.

That is what will happen with the coronavirus and the measures needed to minimise its impact.

This will end, every pandemic and epidemic will end.

The world will get to the other side.

It might feel to so many that there have never been ‘times like these’ before. So reassurance can feel empty. But there have never been times like any particular time period. There has never been another minute like the minute that just passed. Never been a Christmas like last Christmas.  Every time is history is unique. So this one, in that respect is no different.

So we can’t overlook that:

  • there has never been a time when science and medicine have been so advanced.
  • there has never been a time when knowledge can be so quickly shared.
  • there has never been a time when we could stay at home AND see our friends via a screen AND discover how to make a snack from the things that had disappeared into the pantry’s black hole. AND play video games with someone on the other side of the world AND think of our favourite movie and then watch it on a phone AND join a universal quest to be the most impressive at throwing paper into a bin.
But interestingly, there is an exception to this rule of unique times.
An important exception that can’t be denied.

If you are one of those young people who has had challenges and got to the other side, you can’t ignore the fact that you have done this before.
That you have felt the weight and pushed through it.
That you have experienced that eternal internal scream that eventually hushed.
That you have got through before. So you will get through again.

Because you have the strength and the skills to do it. Even when you think you don’t.

You’ve proved it already. You’ve done it already. (And there others around you who might not have.)
You have the EXPERIENCE and the RESOURCES.
And never forget that you have the SUPPORT.
You have people who are sending you their strength and their love and their energy.
People you know. And even people like me who you don’t know.
But mostly you’ve got the COURAGE. Based on the clear definition, you are BRAVE.
So you’ve got this one.
Just breathe in. And breathe out. 
And FaceTime a friend.
Watch a Koala on Livestream while you listen to some soothing music.
Tell your grandma a joke on Facebook.
Download an app that’ll make cuisine from the ingredients you’ve got (or just go ahead a make that m&m sandwich)
Think of someone you can help just by staying where you are.

You know you can do it.

So tell someone else that they can too.

And we’ll all get to the other side together.

Wanted: Consumer Carer Senior Consultant for Jacaranda Place AETC

A key role is being advertised for the new Adolescent Extended Treatment Centre (AETC), Jacaranda Place, at Chermside.

The CONSUMER CARER SENIOR CONSULTANT will be vital in ensuring that young people and their carers and families continue to be able to play an active role in the way the centre  functions and evolves to best meet the needs of those accessing its services.

Some of the essential job details follow here but the full position description and application information can be found at https://smartjobs.qld.gov.au/jobs/QLD-H20CHQ337404

Position status Permanent
Position type Flexible part-time
Occupational group Administration
Classification AO5
Workplace Location Brisbane – North
Job ad reference QLD/H20CHQ337404
Closing date 02-Mar-2020
Salary Other $44.37 – $48.28 p.h.
Job duration
Contact person Emma Hart
Contact details 33109559
Access the National Relay Service

The Consumer Carer Senior Consultant will promote and give guidance to the development and ongoing management of consumer participation and provide ‘systems advocacy’ in relation to consumer, carer and family related issues by:

    • Ensuring consumer, carer and family perspectives are included in all aspects of mental health service planning, delivery and evaluation
    • Assisting staff of the Queensland Adolescent Extended Treatment Centre in its aim to provide a person and family-centred service.
    • Communicate the broad views of consumers, carers and families to mental health services and other relevant services.

Children’s Health Queensland HHS will be your employer should you be successful in being appointed to this role.

Apart from contributing to the development of this vital and growing Hospital and Health Service, they state that you will also benefit from a competitive remuneration package and a working environment which embraces professional development, builds capabilities and supports staff to maximise their health and wellbeing. Additional benefits include:

    • Up to 12.75% employer superannuation contribution
    • 17.5% annual leave loading
    • Salary packaging
    • Employee Assistance Program
    • Work/life balance, variety and flexibility

So, if you’re considering applying for this role, please go to https://smartjobs.qld.gov.au/jobs/QLD-H20CHQ337404
where you can access pdf versions of:

the AO5 Consumer Carer Senior Consultant Role Description
and
the Information Package for Applicants

Co-design of the facility was just the beginning. The model of care that is utilised to treat young people and support them and their families – and the delivery of the education program along with the many other components that the new Jacaranda Place has the potential to provide – must meet the needs of those it was built to support. Even as needs evolve and change and new challenges arise for the cohort.

This new centre cannot be all that it has the opportunity to be unless there is effective ongoing communication from those using the centre and from those for whom the centre would have served to make a difference had they had access to it. And a Senior Consultant whose focus is to facilitate that input, ensuring it reaches those who can enact changes and advancements, is a role on which ongoing collaboration hinges. This position is one that will genuinely rewarding as it is one that will truly make a difference.

So please share this widely to ensure that the best possible candidates apply.

New AETC named Jacaranda Place

Today, as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk visited the completed statewide Adolescent Extended Treatment Centre (AETC) at Chermside with Health Minister Stephen Miles and the member for Stafford, Dr Anthony Lynham, she announced that the facility was to be called Jacaranda Place. (Ten News First’s coverage – accessible by clicking here – has a full report and footage of the exterior and the interior as the Premier tours the finished centre.)

PremierTweetJacarandaPlace

The final design of the centre has been the result of extensive input from a large number of consumers and carers with lived experience of severe and complex mental health issues in young people following the closure of the Barrett Centre in 2013/14 and the recommendations of a Commission of Inquiry into that closure.

Jacaranda Place is a 12 bed inpatient facility that will also house a Day Program allowing young people to transition appropriately to and from treatment services. This means there were always be more than 12 young people utilising the centre. It’s hoped that the education program onsite will operate as the Barrett Adolescent Centre School did in providing for not only those young people in active treatment at the centre but for those who have moved from Jacaranda Place to treatment in the community but for whom continuity of education will ensure stability and ongoing progress. (Note that the Barrett School continues to be a vital service since its relocation to Tennyson where it now serves as a Support School for young people with severe mental health issues who don’t require long-stay inpatient care.)

BrisbaneTimesjacarandaplace2The new centre will be the base for approximately 45 medical, nursing and allied health professionals and 10 specialist educators and the Health Department is aware that those with lived experience are keen for the staff at the centre to be a valuable resource for those throughout the state dealing with the significant challenges that severe mental illness can impose on young people and their families throughout Queensland. With the lack of research worldwide into the severe and complex cohort of young people, Jacaranda Place could help not only those with direct contact with the centre but many more if the Health Department’s dedicated approach to those affected by severe youth mental health continues past the centre’s opening. Thanks to the proactive approach to co-design and collaboration taken by Queensland Health – spearheaded by Director General John Wakefield, there remains great potential for enduring benefits to take place in and beyond this new contemporary facility.

As the Premier made today’s announcement, she emphasised the importance of the new centre in the context of the tragic closure of its predecessor under Health Minister Lawrence Springborg and Premier Campbell Newman.

What happened after the Barrett Centre closed was an absolute tragedy which should never have happened,” the Premier said.

“I remember meeting with the families involved and being deeply moved by their stories, that’s why I made a commitment that we would build a new centre. I thank them for their time, their selflessness and their bravery in discussing what must have been times of terrible trial and suffering for them and their loved ones. Their input has been valuable, and will no doubt prove life-saving for future patients. I’m so proud to stand here today at the new Jacaranda Place which will ensure young people in need of mental health services get the very best possible care.”

Where the new name is concerned, Frank Tracey, Chief Executive of Children’s Health Queensland, the Hospital and Health Service with responsibility for Jacaranda Place said today:

“The name reflects the strength and resilience of the Jacaranda Tree, which represents wisdom, rebirth and good luck. It is a hardy tree that grows in difficult conditions and once a year, its true beauty is shown in full colour. The name also reflects the centre’s location and the views overlooking Jacaranda trees along Farnell Street. … [It is] a distinct and purposeful name for the centre – one that is both welcoming and representative of the stories of hope, dignity and recovery we want the centre to be known for.”

The press release announcing the naming of Jacaranda Place can be read in full here

and

7 News Gold Coast has posted Facebook video of an emotional press conference given by the Premier about Jacaranda Place opening here.

Also …

Updates of the progress of the building and construction of Jacaranda Place (including photos and video) can be found at Queensland Health’s Youth Mental Health site here.

Jacaranda Place will officially open in April so patient admission will not begin until that time.


severeyouthmentalhealth.org will keep you posted regarding the centre’s operation.

National Survey on Severe & Complex Mental Health Issues

‘Our Turn to Speak’ is a national survey that seeks to understand the life experiences of people living with severe and complex mental health issues in Australia.

It will investigate the lived experiences – both positive and negative – of people affected by these issues and the survey findings  will be used to inform SANE Australia’s future advocacy efforts, as they work towards improved social outcomes and support for all Australian affected by these issues. 

The survey organisers (SANE Australia’s Anne Deveson Research Centre is partnering with the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne) are seeking:

7,000 people aged 18 and over who have experienced complex mental health issues in the last 12 months.

The process is simple and short – following a short eligibility screening process, participants will proceed with completing the survey which will take about 30 minutes and can be completed online right now, or over the phone. (Participants can take the survey over the phone from Monday 11 November 2019, between 9.00 am – 8.00 pm (AEDT), Monday – Friday.)

For more information and to take the survey, visit the website:

ourturntospeak.com.au

This is a chance for what you experience to be considered when advocacy organisations are pushing for better support for people with severe and complex mental health issues. If they don’t know what you need, they don’t know what to fight for. So, if you’re eligible and able to do so without any negative repercussions, please contribute to the survey to make sure what you need becomes available.

More change in the way society responds to people with severe mental health issues is vital. Not just the right healthcare but the right understanding in so many areas. This survey gives you (y)our turn to speak and the right people are listening. So let them know what’s needed.

NAMING the Adolescent Extended Treatment Centre

Children’s Health Queensland (CHQ) is working with young people, families, carers and Queensland Health staff across Queensland to name the new Adolescent Extended Treatment Centre (for young people with severe and complex mental health issues).

The aim is to identify a name that represents what the centre is intended to achieve in terms of health outcomes for young people – one of hope, dignity and recovery

So CHQ are seeking the help of eight young leaders across different consumer communities to help make sure the process is inclusive and reflects the diversity of young people across Queensland.

So, if you are aged 13-24 and represent one of more of the following characteristics:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander;
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • LBTQI+
  • Have accessibility or disability requirements; or
  • Have lived experience of mental health services

and you’re available to attend meetings on

●     16 October 2019 (90 mins)
●     1 November 2019 (60 mins)
●     18 November 2019 (45 mins)

please submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) BY 13 OCTOBER and you could help provide the name that represents a better future for generations of young Queenslanders.

Those selected will be paid $187 per meeting and public transport, parking fees and private motor vehicle use will be reimbursed.

Click here to download more information and

Click here for the EOI form.

*