Families Australia and Orygen Youth Health convened a national roundtable on ‘Mental health: 21st century challenges for Australian families’ at Old Parliament House, Canberra, on 24 May 2011. The gathering was attended by around 70 national leaders from the non-government, government and research sectors.
The major political parties were represented by Senator Claire Moore (ALP), Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells (Liberal) and Senator Rachel Siewert (Greens).
The roundtable was a lively and very productive gathering, especially as it drew together leaders in so many fields to throw additional light on the needs of families.
The roundtable was the first major national gathering after the May 2011 Federal Budget announcement of major funding for mental health.
Some of the highlights from discussions were that:
- now is a golden opportunity to build in greater support for families in the implementation of the mental health reform package;
- much more needs to be done to improve cooperation and service integration across the mental health field and child and family services;
- governments can, and should, realise better outcomes for families through greater emphasis on early detection and prevention;
- families themselves should be utilised more in order to build family mental health and wellbeing; and
- there is a moral imperative to make the mental health platform announced in the 2011 Budget the start of a far longer and more sustained commitment to improving mental health outcomes over the next decade.
On the evening of 24 May, Professor McGorry AO, Executive Director, Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, and Professor of Youth Mental Health at the University of Melbourne, delivered the Third Families Australia National Oration at Parliament House, Canberra. Addressing an audience of around 150 people, including many political and community leaders, Professor McGorry spoke passionately about the ongoing needs in the field of mental health in Australia.
Following on from the roundtable and oration, Families Australia and Orygen Youth Health will be embarking on work to highlight further the role and needs of families in the context of mental health.