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winter 2010



inside out

breakthrough play comes to Melbourne p5

membership matters it’s renewal time again p10

schizophrenia awareness week

celebrate families at the bruce woodcock memorial lecture p4 Registered with the Department of Human Services Print Post Approved 350190 / 00023 ISSN 0816 7877

1 in 5 will be affected with mental illness. 5 in 5 can help. You can help by joining mifriend see inside back cover for more



winter 2010

from our president Appropriate housing continues to be a central issue for many people with a mental illness.

I am delighted to announce that Australian of the Year, Professor Patrick McGorry, has agreed to be the keynote speaker for our Annual General Meeting on Tuesday 9 November 2010. As you may know, MI Fellowship Board has been reviewing governance processes for some time now, and the most recent to be looked at is our Board election

“The Board believes housing for people with mental illness should be scattered across all forms of housing to avoid creating ghettos of disadvantage and negative community impact.”

process. The Board has consulted with our Returning Officer, Mr Bernie Feely. A summary of key dates in the

Social Housing continues to be a key issue for MI

process identified by Mr Feely can be found in this edition

Fellowship’s Board, in particular the placement of this

of mi voice on page 10. We will be calling for nominations

form of housing. The Board believes housing for people

for positions in the next edition of mi voice. Over the past few months you may have seen an active debate in the newspapers about Social Housing and Affordable Housing. The terms may sound like they refer to the same thing but are actually different. Affordable Housing refers to publicly-funded housing available to people on a household income of up to $70,000 a year. Social Housing, on the other hand, refers to publicallyfunded housing that is managed through not-for-profit charities where an individual pays no more than 27 to 30 per cent of their pension on housing.

with mental illness should be scattered across all forms of housing to avoid creating ghettos of disadvantage and negative community impact. Housing needs to be built where there are amenities, including public transport, shops and other vital services where jobs and education opportunities are available. At the Board’s last meeting we resolved again that housing and support for people who have multiple and complex needs is inadequate and agreed that advocacy for this group will continue to be a key agenda item for the Board’s Policy & Advocacy Committee. For further details of our advocacy position and data collection on the current housing situation of the people we support, see Elizabeth Crowther’s report on page 3.

The Hon. Robert Knowles AO



contents from our chief executive p3 | schizophrenia awareness week p4-5 | employment programs p6 | advocacy p7 | people and their stories p8 | news bites p9 | membership matters p10 | board p11 | Front cover photo: Matthew Aberline


winter 2010


from our chief executive Access to social housing is at the top of our advocacy agenda.

home truths

Recently, the Australian Government

Research tells us that at least 15,000 people

announced in its Nation Building -

with mental illnesses in Victoria are in

Economic Stimulus Plan that 4,500 public

inappropriate housing, many of whom are at

homes would be built in Victoria by June

risk of becoming homeless. A minimum of 30

and housing

2012. While this may be good news overall,

per cent of homeless people have a mental

• At least 42% of people with

there has not been adequate provision to

illness. We have lobbied the Department of

severe mental illness are

resolve the appalling housing situation for

Human Services to set aside a minimum

currently housed in tenuous

people with a mental illness.

percentage of public housing for people who

forms of accommodation

For some time, MI Fellowship has been collecting data about the housing

have a mental illness. To date, this argument has not been accepted.

Key figures on mental health

• Research shows that two-thirds of consumers

circumstances of people we support and

We know that access to public housing

building an advocacy position. We believe that

alone will not provide a solution and that

there are two distinct problems: appropriate

private rental must also be considered, so

access to permanent housing stock; and

we have proposed the development of a

effective support and specialised housing for

rental scheme in partnership with clinical and

people who have complex issues with mental

housing agencies. Under the scheme, one

psychiatric disability are

illness and substance abuse.

partner could rent housing stock on behalf

buying their own homes

of the partnership as a whole. This would

compared to 70% of the

bring together all the supports people need,

mainstream population

“Research tells us that at least 15,000 people with mental illnesses in Victoria are in inappropriate housing, many of whom are at risk of becoming homeless. A minimum of 30 per cent of homeless people have a mental illness.” To address the access issue we have formed a working group with MIND, NEAMI,

including effective treatment, support for personal skill development, payment of rent and housing maintenance. A major difficulty, however, is a 20 per cent gap between what

identify housing and housing support as the most important issues in their lives • Only 27% of people with

• Housing supply is insufficient. Private rental is becoming increasingly out of reach.

a person can afford to pay for rent and the market rate. We have put forward proposals for funding that gap, but, to date, have not gained agreement. We have also been advocating for the development of specific housing options for people who experience complex and enduring mental illness and alcohol and drug issues. While we welcome the recent Department of Health funding for Intensive Psychosocial

HomeGround Services and Doutta Galla

Outreach packages, we still have much work

Community Health to develop strategies

to do.

to advocate for access to Nation Building housing stock. Elizabeth Crowther



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social inclusion


family matters It takes a village to raise a child. What does it take to build a village?

“You have to go to work. You gotta’ come home. You gotta’ deal with the kids, deal with your own home. Your own problems, you know, really start piling up.” – a mother with mental illness Dr Joanne Nicholson

When many people think of mental illness in families, their minds turn towards parent carers of children with a mental illness. This year’s Bruce Woodcock Memorial Lecture speaker offers a different perspective: what about families where it is the parent who has a mental illness? Dr Joanne Nicholson from the University of Massachusetts has been researching the role of mental illness within families for more than 20 years and is coming to Melbourne to advocate a whole-of-family approach to mental health recovery. In the US, approximately 68 per cent of women with a mental illness and 58 per cent of men are parents, yet in many cases mental health services focus only on the consumer without paying regard to the impact that mental illness has on their role as a parent, or their role as a parent has on their mental illness. For parents with a mental illness it is not rare to have feelings of guilt or shame about the relationship they have with their children as well as stress associated with maintaining their roles as good parents. These feelings can exacerbate their mental illness and complicate their recovery journey. When


mental health services fail to identify the impact family life has on parents with a mental illness, they neglect a core element of potential recovery. Dr Nicholson advocates a comprehensive approach to mental health services where therapeutic services and social services work together to help parents with a mental illness and the family as a whole. Under this model, parents would not have to worry about how their children are coping while they receive care and children of consumers would have much greater understanding of what their parents are going through. Over the past four years, Dr Nicholson and her team have been trialling this model in Boston, Massachusetts. Her data shows significant improvement in the mental health outcomes for the parents participating. While in the country, Dr Nicholson will be sharing what her team has learned from the Family Options program and how it can fit into an Australian setting.

for news, views, events and mental health information. Who knows? – you may wish to make a secure online donation while you’re there. Make sure to subscribe to our free private e-newsletter mi voice update, which keeps you in touch with us in between magazines.

E inside out



winter 2010


In addition to Dr Nicholson’s work with parents with a mental illness, another form of family dynamics will be explored at the Bruce Woodcock Memorial Lecture through a performed reading from Inside Out, a play about a mother’s relationship with her son who has schizophrenia.

Benn Welford and Valerie Bader perform in Inside Out PHOTO: Matthew Aberline

MI Fellowship will stage theatrical performances of Inside Out in October’s Mental Health Week. This debut Victorian

Inside Out has played to enthusiastic audiences in NSW

run will include performances in Frankston, Shepparton,

and ACT, garnering rave reviews and praise from carers of

Clayton and Moonee Ponds. Details for these performances

people with a mental illness. The play takes audiences on

will be announced in future editions of mi voice.

a journey into one young man’s mind, where the borders are always changing and the battle lines being redrawn. The play explores his mother’s struggle to understand what is happening and to know how to maintain a loving

Inside Out was written by Mary Rachel Brown and is directed by Peter J. Adams. It stars Valerie Bader and Benn Welford.

relationship with her son.

second helpings for corporate breakfast


After the success of last year’s Corporate Breakfast during

This year, the keynote speaker will be our visiting

Schizophrenia Awareness Week 2009, MI Fellowship is

international expert, Dr Joanne Nicholson, who will talk

back with a vengeance to do it all again in 2010.

about how different sectors of the community can work

together to provide whole-of-family care. She will be joined The Corporate Breakfast is a function that brings together

by Melbourne Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, who will provide

organisations within the mental health sector and leaders

special commentary.

from the corporate world to discuss key mental health issues. To cope with demand, this year’s breakfast has

MI Fellowship’s Corporate Breakfast

doubled in size and will accommodate up to a hundred

will be held at 7am on May 19 at the

leaders from different industries and sectors.

Melbourne Cricket Ground’s Harrison Room.

Elizabeth Crowther, special guest speaker Dr David Morris, Deputy Lord Mayor for the City of Melbourne, Susan Riley and Robert Knowles at the 2009 Corporate Breakfast.


winter 2010


up to the job MI Fellowship expands employment programs. It’s the good news that’s been a year in the making. After a

Taking this approach to employment services has proven

long and exhaustive process, MI Fellowship is pleased to

to keep people with a mental illness in jobs for longer,

announce that we have won tenders to provide employment

allowing them to build essential skills and workplace

services in seven key areas around Victoria.

confidence. Regular employment also assists people with

The MI Fellowship tenders have been sub-contracted through Ostara, one of Australia’s largest disability employment services. They will be running in the Geelong, Bayside, Plenty, Yarra, East Gippsland and Latrobe Valley employment service areas, and we will maintain our current service in the Peninsula area. For many people with a mental illness who are looking for employment, finding a job is merely a first step; staying in the job is a whole other issue. MI Fellowship’s employment services address both issues. As well as identifying employment opportunities, we work with consumers and workplaces to ensure that the type of employment fits consumers’ recovery paths and that any issues that arise can be addressed sensitively without

a mental illness towards recovery. As well as providing a sense of purpose and source of esteem, employment allows people with a mental illness to make new relationships with co-workers and establish financial independence. The changes come as part of the Federal Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations’ merging of the old Disability Employment Network (DEN) and Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) into a single program – the Disability Employment Services (DES), which took effect on March 1. The former VRS programs are now referred to as Disability Support Services under DES, and the former DEN programs are referred to as Disability Maintenance Services.

creating stress for either party. We work in partnership with treatment services to deliver this program.

“For many people with a mental illness who are looking for employment, finding a job is merely a first step; staying in the job is a whole other issue.”

mivoice update – email newsletter Stay in touch with the latest news and events in mental health. Register your details at It’s free, private and you can unsubscribe at any time.


winter 2010

us and TheMHS MI Fellowship talks up integration for employment and education. Laura Collister

Employment and education were central themes to Laura

Laura outlined continuing issues with social exclusion in

Collister’s, General Manager Rehabilitation Services,

the fields of employment and education. In particular, she

presentation at The Mental Health Services (TheMHS)

highlighted that up to 78 per cent of people with a mental

Summer Forum on February 19.

illness are not currently part of the Australian workforce and

The TheMHS Conference is a forum for mental health professionals, consumers, carers and researchers from

outlined seven proven practices that could be implemented in Australia to drastically reduce this figure.

around the world to come together to exchange knowledge

Ultimately Laura argued that the best path forward in

and ideas about issues affecting people with a mental illness.

Australia was for employment services to become integrated

This year’s TheMHS Summer Forum focused on the issue of

with treatment services and linked to strong sources of

“the right to care that works”.

psychosocial support. This model enables people with a

In Laura’s presentation, which was entitled “Unfinished business: Participation in employment and education”, she

mental illness to find a job and receive suitable assistance to keep a job.

talked about the continuing job of deinstitutionalisation and the need to finish the business of social inclusion.

“... up to 78 per cent of people with a mental illness are not currently part of the Australian workforce and outlined seven proven practices that could be implemented in Australia to drastically reduce this figure”

helping each other The benefits of peer education. On February 17, MI Fellowship’s Elizabeth Crowther and Julie Anderson presented the Well Ways MI Recovery program to VICSERV’s CEO and Coordinator’s Network Meeting, to highlight the role that peer education can play in recovery. Peer education is the idea that people with a mental illness develop better health outcomes when education is facilitated by other people with a mental illness who are further along their recovery journey. Peer leaders can draw on personal experience to give realistic advice on managing illness and providing knowledge on what treatment options are available and effective. MI Recovery is based around this philosophy. Julie’s presentation demonstrated how peer leaders facilitating MI Recovery provide inspiration, hope and validation whilst creating an environment of camaraderie and

Elizabeth Crowther and Julie Anderson.

support amongst the MI Recovery participants. Following the presentation, meeting attendees showed significant interest in adopting the Well Ways MI Recovery program, which requires peer leaders to be trained and employed to facilitate the program.

MI Fellowship has received funding from the Department of Health and Ageing to support MI Recovery in 3 states and the ACT with 16 peer leaders being trained to deliver the program.



winter 2010


pathways people and their stories

conquering the great unknown Mel Kelleher volunteers on Helpline.

...for people with a mental illness, being able to talk to someone who truly understands what it means to be mentally ill, the meaning is immeasurable. “At the end of last year, I graduated from university with a degree in psychology. I got another tattoo to mark the occasion because, well, it’s a pretty big deal for me. You see, no one would ever have thought that I could get a Uni degree, including me. I’m in my mid-40s and have experienced major depression since childhood. I don’t even remember a time before I became depressed. As a child, unloved and vulnerable, I fell victim to a local predator. At 13, I hacked off my beautiful hair and made my first suicide attempt. I still told no one for almost 30 years.

and in my housing situation. Two weeks after my 40th birthday I broke down again. This time, though, I finally received a diagnosis and, with my consent, was put on an anti-depressant. I was referred to a psychiatrist who I have seen every week since. I accepted that I was ill but with help I didn’t have to stay that way. I made a commitment to myself to have the best life I could and, most importantly, I found something that is truly meaningful and valuable to me – psychology. Through MI Fellowship, I have been trained to provide telephone information, referral and support. I now volunteer

For years I simply lived with a fierce, burning pain that

with the Helpline and talk to people who’ve had experiences

tore at my chest – an intense fear of abandonment that

just like mine. And for people with a mental illness, being

triggered horrendous reactions when I felt rejected,

able to talk to someone who truly understands what it means

which was often.

to be mentally ill, the meaning is immeasurable.

I constantly looked for relief, punishing myself with

I have grown as a person since being on the Helpline. There

starvation and over-exertion, just to feel the pain. Finally

are just no words to describe how it feels when someone

I discovered alcohol and things went from bad to worse.

thanks you just for listening to them share their pain.

I lost my driver’s licence and my husband. My existence

I intend to use my degree to work with other people who are

was one of instability: in my relationships; in my work life;

suffering from mental illness and enable them to find their own path to a meaningful life.”

dates for your diary in 2010 Bruce Woodcock Memorial Lecture – Tuesday, 18 May, Victorian Arts Centre | Schizophrenia Awareness Week Corporate Breakfast – Wednesday, 19 May, Harrison Room, MCG | Annual General Meeting – Tuesday November 9, Middletons | Find out more about all activities by calling (03) 8486 4200 or visit

news bites


winter 2010

no misfits in this breakfast club! When the Coffee Group was first launched at Bromham Place last October who could have predicted the demand it would generate? Interest is now so great that it has a spin-off program, the Breakfast Club. Both clubs are for registered participants in MI Fellowship’s day programs and allow people with a mental illness to relax over a coffee or meal in a public environment that is part of Richmond’s vibrant café scene. “People in the Coffee and Breakfast Clubs are really enjoying the benefits of social inclusion,” says Phil Watson,

Nick and Ernest enjoy a cuppa at Coffee Club.

Manager, Rehabilitation North East.

Currently, two local cafes are taking part in the Coffee

“They’re building a network of friends around the local area

Group and Breakfast Clubs, but with demand still growing a

and increasing their confidence to grab a coffee and a chat

third may be added soon.

outside the cafes.”

carers find harmony in choir MI Fellowship is delighted to announce the first performance of our Carers’ Choir will take place on June 19 at St Mark’s Baptist Church in Clifton Hill. Since early April the Carers’ Choir has been rehearsing diligently for its upcoming performance under the leadership of celebrated musician Kavisha Mazzella. Ms Mazzella is leader of the Italian Women’s Choir, La Voce Della Luna, which will also be thrilling the audience at St Mark’s Baptist Church. The Carers’ Choir was initially established to provide carers from different backgrounds with a social outlet and a creative way to express themselves. To enquire about booking seats for the Carers’ Choir performance on June 19, contact Rosemary Baker at MI Fellowship on (03) 8486 4232.

Art program participants find inspiration in the community at Shepparton.

art on the move at Shepparton The redevelopment of MI Fellowship’s day programs in the Hume region is a great move for local artists – with a mental illness and without. For the last nine months, MI Fellowship’s Hume art program has been running on a weekly basis from the Shepparton Art Gallery. Participants have enjoyed exposure to other artists’ work as well as showing their own pieces to a much larger audience. “Little by little, we’re seeing a big improvement in consumers’ confidence through being at the gallery,” says Trudy Fuller, day program co-ordinator for the Hume region. “Seeing what other artists in the area are doing has been a great inspiration for some of our artists, and visitors to the gallery are walking away with an improved sense of what people with a mental illness are actually like.” MI Fellowship’s art program at Shepparton is also expanding to include members of the community without a mental illness.

Kavisha Mazzella of La Voce Della Luna



winter 2010


membership matters

renew your membership It’s that time of the year again: time to renew your MI Fellowship membership. If you are currently a MI Fellowship member, you will soon

An important aspect of your membership is that it gives you

be receiving a renewal form in the mail complete with a reply

the right to vote at MI Fellowship’s Annual General Meeting

paid envelope.

on Tuesday November 9, which will feature 2010’s Australian

Your continued membership with us lets you enjoy ongoing membership benefits. It also contributes to the support of MI Fellowship initiatives, which enabled us to work with nearly 2000 people with a mental illness last year to improve their quality of life and make progress with education, employment,

of the Year Professor Patrick McGorry. Make sure your membership is renewed to be eligible to vote! If you are a current member and do not receive your renewal letter, please contact us on (03) 8486 4200.

housing and relationships.

awards nominations Another reason to make sure your membership is valid is that you can nominate someone you know to receive a MI Fellowship Award. The MI Fellowship Awards are presented to people whose work has made a significant impact on the lives of people with a mental illness or improved the community’s understanding of mental health issues. They are announced at each year’s Annual General Meeting. To find out more about the award categories and to download a nomination form, visit


important dates for MI Fellowship board election process for 2010 • Nominations for Board positions will open Wednesday 22 September 2010 MI Fellowship’s Board recently appointed Mr Bernard Feely as Returning Officer for 2010 and to review our obligations and processes in regards to Board elections as part of our ongoing governance review. Mr Feely has identified the following important dates as the key steps in this year’s Board election. More information about our Board election will feature in the next edition of mi voice.

• Nominations for Board positions will close on Wednesday 6 October 2010 at 5.00pm • Ballot opens Wednesday 20 October 2010 • Ballot closes Wednesday 3 November 2010 at 5:00pm • Election date is Friday 5 November 2010 • Annual General Meeting is Tuesday 9 November 2010 at 5.00pm


winter 2010


finding answers in collaboration MI Fellowship board member Dr Julian Freidin is part of an international taskforce on improving collaboration Julian Freidin between clinicians, consumers and carers. “you can reach far more people and assist them on the path to recovery when you have clinical services working in close collaboration with community services,” As psychiatrist to the Alfred Hospital’s Homeless Outreach

Inequalities category for an integrated approach to mental

Psychiatric Service (HOPS) for the past 11 years, and recent

healthcare on the streets.

president of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, Dr Freidin has developed a long-held interest in combining clinical and social services to meet people’s mental health needs. “At HOPS I have seen and learned about the value of collaborative, holistic approaches through the secondary consultation and education work we do with non-government

It is no surprise, then, that Dr Freidin is part of the World Psychiatric Association’s (WPA) taskforce on improving collaboration between clinicians, consumers and carers. “Our last meeting on developing the draft recommendations was in March and I hope to bring the recommendations when they are completed to MI Fellowship,” says Dr Freidin. There will be a worldwide consultation process involving

organisations,” he says. HOPS provides case management to 30 to 40 homeless people who have a mental illness “but, importantly, we also work intensively with community workers at Sacred Heart Mission and Hanover Crisis Accommodation Service”. That combination of clinical and social work has led to the completion of research that demonstrates “you can reach far

143 WPA member organisations, other international mental health organisations, and consumer and carer groups from many countries. “Social services are terribly important so that people are not just seen as the ‘illness’ but are seen as people who have a range of needs,” says Dr Freidin.

more people and assist them on the path to recovery when

“What will ultimately make a difference is increasing everyone’s

you have clinical services working in close collaboration with

understanding that the care of a patient works best when there

community services,” says Dr Freidin.

is collaboration at all levels, and we need education across the

It is an approach that won recognition in the 2009 Victorian

sector to shift everyone in that direction.”

Public Healthcare Awards with a Silver award in the Reducing

for policy and advocacy, get on board MI Fellowship’s board has established a new Policy and Advocacy sub-committee. It will bring a comprehensive approach to how MI Fellowship responds to public debate on the major shortcomings in mental health services as well as delivering on the ambitious agenda set out in MI Fellowship’s Strategic Plan to 2013.

Chaired by board member Lyn Allison, who has significant experience in both policy and advocacy, the sub-committee will spell out MI Fellowship’s official policy position on a range of mental health issues such as housing, employment and education. It will develop stronger links with government and other key decision makers, oversee our

partnerships in the mental health sector and refine our approach to working with the media. Although still in its early days, the sub-committee has already developed a list of priority tasks and started work on identifying key MI Fellowship campaign issues in the lead up to the next state election. We will report on more advances shortly.


winter 2010



MI Fellowship volunteer Stephen made a big splash on February 27, when he featured heavily in a national broadcast about community treatment orders. All In The Mind, an ABC Radio National program dedicated to exploring the mind, our brains and behaviour talked with Steve about his personal experiences with community treatment orders and the often difficult role they have played in his recovery journey. He also discussed his volunteer work with MI Fellowship. You can find a transcript and audio file of the program on the ABC site at stories/2010/2828006.htm. A different Steven also made a big impact recently with an article in the Whitehorse Leader that profiled his work as a Well Ways facilitator and participant and how the program had “saved his life and his relationship with his son”.

Whitehorse Leader, 10 March 2010

Chief Executive : : Elizabeth Crowther Editorial : : Hootville Communications Design : : Room44, Lisa Minichiello Printing : : Bambra Press

Telephone : : 03 8486 4200 Fax : : 03 8486 4265 Email : : Website : :

board of directors

MI Voice aims to keep our readers informed of the latest information on mental illness and our advocacy work. It is also our opportunity to keep potential and existing supporters and donors informed of the Mental Illness Fellowship’s activities and the difference their contribution makes.

Mental Illness Fellowship retains the right to edit articles. Please note that the opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the editor or the Mental Illness Fellowship Victoria.

Secretary : :

Mr Darrel Drieberg

Treasurer : :

Mr Paul Montgomery

MI Voice is the quarterly publication of the Mental Illness Fellowship Victoria, Fairfield Place 276 Heidelberg Road, Fairfield, Victoria, Australia, 3078.

© Mental Illness Fellowship Victoria. PO Box 359 Clifton Hill, Vic 3068 All rights reserved. ACN 093 357 165 ABN 93 093 357 165 ISSN 0816 7877

President : :

The Hon. Robert Knowles

Vice President : : Mrs Diane Brown

Directors : :  Mr Nathan Shafir, Mrs Elaine Price, Ms Lyn Allison, Mr Theo Krambias, Dr Julian Freidin, Mr Lei Ning, Ms Louise Milne-Roch, Ms Jenny King

thank you to our supporters


have you been paying attention? How well do you know your mi voice? Here’s a simple – and rewarding – way to find out. Come along to the Bruce Woodcock Memorial Lecture with an answer to the question below and go into the draw to win two Gold Class movie tickets with Village Cinemas.

From which university in the US does Dr Joanne Nicholson hail? One winner will receive a Village Cinemas double pass to the movie of their choice. It’s a chance to sit back and enjoy, all thanks to MI Fellowship. The prize will be valid for 12 months for any session, seven days a week.

The answer, and many other interesting facts and stories, can be found in this edition of mi voice. The winner will be drawn on the night.

Read and WIN! Your chance to win 2 movie tickets

MI Voice Winter Edition  

MI Voice Winter Edition 2010