UPDATE: Mackay event added to Youth Mental Health Forums


The Queensland Health Commission of Inquiry Implementation Group and Health Consumers Queensland will be hold a forum in Mackay as well as the other regional centres already announced. The list of dates is now as follows:

2 May (Tuesday)Toowoomba
4 May (Thursday)Sunshine Coast
5 May (Friday)Cairns
9 May (Tuesday) – Ipswich
12 May (Friday)Rockhampton
19 May (Friday)Townsville
23 May (Tuesday)Mt Isa
25 May (Thursday)Bundaberg
29 May (Monday)Logan
30 May (Tuesday)Mackay NEW
1 June (Thursday) Gold Coast
2 June (Friday)Brisbane

Click on your chosen location above to register your attendance OR

Head to the GET INVOLVED! page at severeyouthmentalhealth.org
under the heading getinvolvedtopic4
for more information


Go directly to www.health.qld.gov.au/improvement/youthmentalhealth OR www.hcq.org.au OR
contact EDyouthmentalhealth@health.qld.gov.au 

This is a unique opportunity to genuinely contribute to the specific services and support required for all young people and families in Queensland dealing with severe and complex mental health issues.
We cannot change the past – and we will continue to support those whose suffering continues as a result of what has gone before – but anyone with an interest in this vital area of service provision can now be HEARD and RESPONDED TO.
Please become a part of the movement towards valuing our young people and those who care for them in the way that they truly deserve.


Be Part of the Conversation on Youth Mental Health Services


As part of the Qld Government’s response to the Barrett Adolescent Centre Commission of Inquiry (BACCOI) Report, Health Consumers Queensland‘s collaboration with Queensland Health and Education Queensland continues to create vital opportunities for public input.

The next phase means thatcoming soon to a town near you will be a public forum where anyone with ideas, experience and information related to adolescent mental health issues are invited to talk directly to those responsible for the provision of health and education services throughout Queensland for young people and their families dealing with such challenges.  Consumer and carer representatives who have been actively involved so far will be present as will the Health Consumers Queensland staff who continue to advocate for co-design as the only means by which the best services can become available.  These forums are an opportunity to:

To register your attendance go to
www.health.qld.gov.au/improvement/youthmentalhealth or

contact EDyouthmentalhealth@health.qld.gov.au or
click on the thumbnail below right to open the info sheet
with location and registration information

Update – March 2017


With 2017 well underway, Queensland Health continues to work on the recommendations from the Barrett Inquiry with their commitment to engage with consumers and carers clearly evident. Progress on each issue is reported on in the Communiqué released following the 4th meeting of the Steering Committee. (This and other documents can be directly accessed from Queensland Health here.)

Some Key Developments

Submissions on the preliminary Model of Service for the new statewide Adolescent Extended Treatment Facility have now closed. The Queensland Health website indicates that “comprehensive input came from a broad range of sources” (Health Consumers Queensland put in a group response to add to multiple individual responses) with a thematic analysis now being undertaken. A summary report will be released when it is completed.

With the school such a key component of the Barrett Adolescent Centre, Education is an area that must be considered alongside Health within the Model of Service. To that end, Health Consumers Queensland (HCQ) is running a survey to ascertain what form education should take within the new facility and beyond that. Anyone with insights or opinions on education for young people with severe and complex mental health issues is urged to complete the survey as collaboration with Education Queensland is underway and will continue to be a significant element of the Model of Service.

The other HCQ Survey links, along with all the information on the work on the Inquiry Recommendations – including how you can become involved – can be found HCQ’s Barrett page here. Alternatively, if you want to contact Queensland Health directly for further information or to become involved in the consultation processes, you’re invited to email the Manager of the COI Implementation Team (Judith Piccone) on EDyouthmentalhealth@health.qld.gov.au.

Where Recommendation 5 (Improve transitions for adolescents moving into adult mental health services) is concerned, the government is currently seeking proposals to review the alignment and transition arrangements between adolescent and adult public mental health services in Queensland. Details are available at the QTenders page and qualified independent consultants are invited to apply before 3 March.

Health Consumers Queensland is proving to be not just a vital conduit but a valued resource with advisors and facilitators who can utilise their own expertise and that of other skilled professionals to ensure that consumers/carers are key figures in discussions and planning. Their commitment to this community is evidenced by the Keynote Presentation at HCQ’s 18 May Annual Forum in Townsville … a panel with HCQ, Queensland Health and Consumer/Carer reps discussing the experience and benefits of consumer/community engagement on Barrett COI Recommendations so far. (HCQ provides assistance for consumers to attend the forum so if you are interested in participating, you can put in an application using this form.)

Some significant efforts went into putting together the 9 February Consumer/Carer Presentation to the Steering Committee that “highlighted the lived experiences of consumers and families and the complexities navigating various service systems when a young person has a severe and complex mental health issue”. Supported comprehensively by Leonie Sanderson and Melissa Fox, some courageous and compassionate individuals contributed their personal stories to illustrate the challenges that those affected by severe and complex adolescent mental health issues continue to be faced with. It’s hoped that this presentation will evolve into a number of resources to more widely educate (with specific tools developed for different groups from clinical staff to the general public) with special care always taken to ensure the privacy, security and well-being of those who have contributed their personal experiences.

No mention of current planning or future services can go without recognition for those with lived experience of severe and complex adolescent mental health issues who continue to play a role. Those we have lost and those whose lives have been permanently altered are always in our thoughts. The depth of their pain fuels the need to ensure others will never endure such suffering. And those who are able to directly contribute to the process do so empowered by amazing personal strength and a commitment to help others. There is no doubt that the stories and insights from the past and present will shape the ethos and the practical elements of the kind of service provision that will have a positive impact. The young people and family members of the future will be indebted to those who came before. Those whose pain was so often tragically misunderstood but whose bravery and compassion for others will never be forgotten. If their voices continue to be heard and validated, they will be the foundation of a system that must ultimately meet the needs of EVERYONE who encounters mental health issues in Queensland.

Preliminary Model of Service for New Facility


After three workshops where people with lived experience collaborated with clinicians, education staff and government planners, Queensland Health have today released the preliminary Model of Service (MoS) for the new adolescent extended treatment facility in the grounds of Prince Charles Hospital with the following explanation:

The preliminary Model of Service has been released on the COI Implementation team website at http://www.health.qld.gov.au/improvement/youthmentalhealth/model-of-service/ and you are invited to provide comments to inform ongoing development. This opportunity is open until Friday 17 February, 2017.  If you are aware of other people (individuals or organisations) who may be interested in the model of service and contributing comments you are welcome to provide the link to them.

Health Consumers Queensland will continue to work closely with the Department to support the engagement and involvement of consumers and carers in implementation of the Government response to all recommendations. Consumers and carers are encouraged to contact the appointed Engagement Advisor Leonie Sanderson should they wish to contribute to a group response (http://www.hcq.org.au/our-work/barrett-inquiry/).

As well as being available on the government website, the document is also available here.

Note:  A Model of Service doesn’t aim to describe the day-to-day operations of such a facility. It is a high level document which guides the direction taken by a service – defining
WHO the service is for;
WHAT it hopes to ACHIEVE and
WHAT it intends to DO
So anyone with an interest in mental healthcare can provide their input at this level to ensure that those who are currently not catered for in government healthcare service provision will finally have an option that will aid their recovery.

Everyone with any interest in Queensland’s health services, mental health issues and adolescent mental healthcare is urged to look through the Model and give feedback.

This can be done in several different ways:

1) By using the survey form that Queensland Health has made available here.

2) By providing a written response via email to the Commission of Inquiry Implementation Team – Preliminary Model of Service at EDyouthmentalhealth@health.qld.gov.au  or

3) By contacting Leonie Sanderson at Health Consumers Queensland to have input into a group response.

The only way to ensure  that the best possible service becomes available to Queenslanders in need of genuinely effective adolescent extended mental healthcare, education and rehabilitation is to have a say about what is needed NOW.



What does ‘SEVERE & COMPLEX’ ADOLESCENT mental health issues MEAN?


Very few people know.

Quite a few people think they know … but they don’t.

So, as is often the case, education is the answer.

If there is genuine understanding of an issue, most people’s needs will be met. So, in endeavouring to ensure that the needs of those affected by severe and complex adolescent mental health issues are met, those advocating for the right services are gathering information from the people who know – the people who’ve experienced those issues.

If this is you or someone you know, we need your input … so that we can make sure YOU and those close to you … AND others like you … get the best help in future.

We need to put together stories, snapshots, insights into what it’s like living with severe and complex mental health issues during adolescence – for the young people, for their carers, for their families and their friends. 

So if you can tell us just a little, we can put together some examples that resonate with truth but without identifying any individual or contravening anyone’s privacy. We can paint a clear picture of what it feels like to:

  • be turned away from an Emergency Department
  • be denied access to services because you’re TOO unwell
  • have to retell your history over and over again to psychiatrists, psychologists, CYMHS staff
  • etc.

AND what it feels like to:

  • get the right support so that you can attend school
  • work with a clinician who respects your input and acknowledges your strengths
  • build a life with functional relationships and moments of peace
  • etc.

Only your own stories can describe what it’s like. And we know that it’s not easy to tell those stories. So Health Consumers Qld have put together some questions to provide a framework for people to provide their insights. So that we can educate people – the people in positions that will determine the services available to support those dealing with severe and complex adolescent mental health issues.

Click on the links below to have your say – the good, the bad, the unimaginable. If the government officials, medical professionals and bureaucrats don’t know what’s happening to you, they can’t improve the system, the type/amount of support or the approach/attitude of clinical staff etc.

The good things must be replicated and shared.
The bad things must be prevented from impacting people’s lives ever again.

So please fill us in about your significant experiences and knowledge of what works/doesn’t work (AND/OR encourage others to do so) via:

Snapshot for consumers/young people


Snapshot for family/carers

and you can provide a brief history with this story template.

Then we’ll be able to educate people about what you’re dealing with (while you remain anonymous). And we can push even harder for better services so that, in the future, you’ll have only good stories to tell.

Progress in Youth Mental Health Planning


Queensland Health now have a website that deals specifically with their actions in relation to the Barrett Adolescent Centre Closure Commission of Inquiry. This will provide information on plans for the new extended treatment and education facility as well as other related developments and, along with this site and the dedicated page at Health Consumers Queensland, it’ll inform people of ways they can become involved in plans for future services and policies. Regular Communiqués will be posted on this page along with any other news and relevant information. Continue reading

New centre to be built at Prince Charles Hospital + SURVEY announced


The Queensland Premier announced today that a new facility for young people with severe and complex mental health issues would be built in the grounds of Prince Charles Hospital at Chermside in Brisbane’s northern suburbs. A site visit was then made where Premier Palaszczuk and Health Minister Cameron Dick were joined by community members directly affected by the closure of the Barrett Adolescent Centre in January 2014. The Minister had met with families linked to the Barrett Centre yesterday to update them on the progress of the government’s response to the recommendations from the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the closure and reassure them that health service consumers and carers would continue to play a significant role in planning and developments. Continue reading



It’s Mental Health Week. And in the past, that has meant a lot of awareness-raising, stigma-quashing and acknowledgement of an issue that has for too long been treated like a shameful secret. And that’s all good, useful stuff. But the time has long since passed for more than knowing nods and pleasant words from those with the capacity to DO instead of DISCUSS.

Mental illness needs ACTION. NOW.

Health service providers, governments, mental health commissions/ advocates/ peak bodies and communities must move from rhetoric to establishing equitable service provision immediately. Otherwise how can anyone believe that mental health issues are, in fact, the cruel scourge afflicting millions unfairly as the annual PR tells us? We know they exist. And, thankfully, we now have knowledge of a range of pharmaceutical adjustments, treatment methods and support programs that mean these issues can be addressed. People CAN heal and progress and discover lives without the agony they once believed was infinite. BUT until the money, time and effort allocated to mental health is in line with those physical health issues that have the same level of impact, people affected by mental illness can’t feel as far from personally responsible for their health concerns as those with a blood disease or multiple sclerosis can. Continue reading

The potential for a new approach based on genuine understanding ­– Part 3


An inpatient extended treatment and rehabilitation service with onsite schooling for adolescents to young adults (adulthood rarely begins at 18 years when mental health issues have hindered social and emotional maturity) must consider some essential factors in order to stimulate positive change in the lives of those affected by severe and complex youth mental health issues. Continue reading

Disciplinary Action for two public servants involved in Barrett Centre Closure


Following the presentation of the report from the Barrett Adolescent Centre Commission of Inquiry, the Public Service Commission (as an independent central agency of government) was asked to consider whether the conduct of any of the referenced Queensland Government employees breached the Public Service Act 2008 and should then be the subject of a disciplinary process.

Today (8 September 2016), families of former Barrett Centre patients were notified that the Public Service Commission had recommended action against a small number of Queensland Government employees. As a result, Queensland Health has begun disciplinary proceedings Continue reading