What did we do at the 2017 TheMHS Conference?

Coffee for a cause.jpgAbove: Employees from Flourish Australia’s Figtree Conference Centre showed their versatility by staffing a coffee cart at TheMHS 2017 Conference!

The 2017 TheMHS (pronounced “themes”) Conference was held at the Hilton Sydney between the 29th of August and the 1st September, and Flourish Australia was a proud Gold Sponsor.

TheMHS is an international conference focussed on improving mental health services in Australia and New Zealand, and it serves as an open forum for exchanging research and professional development. This three-day event attracts 1,000 delegates each year, and it consistently challenges what we know about mental health. This year’s theme was “Embracing change through innovation and lived experience”, which is at the core of everything we do here at Flourish Australia.

Presenters at TheMHS examine recent obstacles, set out new challenges, and focus on policies, programs and directions for the future. As presenters and delegates can be researchers, policy makers, people with a lived experience, their carers and everybody in between, this it the place to be for networking in the mental health sector. Each year a core topic is chosen as the focus, and any speakers who have a connection to this topic are invited to present at the forum.

TheMHS Awards

We want to say congratulations to Flourish Australia’s CEO, Pamela Rutledge, for being recognised at TheMHS Learning Network Awards for her life-long contribution to advancing the mental health sector. Pam was chosen as the winner by a panel of experts who had been nominated by their peers.

Flourish Australia: a proud sponsor

By Peter Neilson

We used our status as a Gold sponsor of TheMHS 2017 to increase the awareness of our brand, as well as to launch our new tagline and message. Our job is “creating and inspiring a world where mental wellbeing flourishes.”

Naturally, Flourish Australia also had a booth at the conference, and our staff used it to run a number of give-aways and other exciting happenings. Figtree Conference Centre was on show, serving up café-quality cappuccinos by donation at our coffee cart. As this is the Age of Social Media, we were sure to post everything that happened to Facebook.

The Mental Health Service Awards of Australia and New Zealand were also presented at the conference (see “TheMHS Awards”, left). Our organisation had several nominations and two wins. Pretty good!

Pam received this award “in recognition of an exceptional contribution to mental health services in Australia…in celebration of a career of visionary leadership spanning decades of mental health reform. For dedication, innovation and brave decisions and notably, for creating opportunities for the employment of people with a lived experience, especially vital peer work roles in mental health.” What an accolade!

Pamela Rutledge Recognised with Dame Marie BashirPamela Rutledge (left) with former NSW Governor, Professor Dame Marie Bashir

Speaking of accolades, Fay Jackson (General Manager, Inclusion) accepted the “Peer Worker Award” on behalf of Flourish Australia. Fay had something important to say to all the people who have been advocating peer work: “We are all in this together. This is about all of us. We all won that award today because we had a victory for peer work. At the beginning of this year, I declared 2017 Year of the Peer Worker. And so it is. We have a lot more to do, but we are on our way, and we are all in this together.”

Pre-conference Consumer forum

The pre-conference consumer forum on the 29th of August was themed “Thrive”. In the morning, Flourish Australia’s Manager Peer Workforce, Peter Farrugia, presented his ideas on “What recovery means to you, and how you use it in your current work.” As a panellist, Peter discussed aspects of his personal experiences, as well as how having a lived experience continues to influence his professional life. When quizzed about applying his lived experience in his role as a manager, Peter discussed Flourish Australia’s position on reasonable adjustment in the workplace. He informed the audience this policy was not only for peer workers, but for all staff at Flourish Australia.

Fay Jackson ABC image.jpgAbove: Fay Jackson, General Manager Inclusion

In the afternoon, Peter facilitated a panel discussion focused on a topic called “Peer Work Utopia: making it happen.” The panel consisted of six senior personalities from the Australian mental health field, and they covered some rather intense aspects of policy, government, systems, structures, funding and politics. It was a robust discussion which included some rather intense audience contribution.

“Managing the dynamics and experiences of the panellists offered many opportunities and challenges,” said Peter. “The breadth of thought made it a very interesting discussion. The audience clearly enjoyed it, as so many people wanted their chance to feedback to the panel following the conversation.” When asked if he would facilitate a panel at TheMHS again, Peter smiled. “Absolutely. And I would encourage all peer workers to consider giving it a go.”

Mark Orr and Jade Ryall.jpgSMILE 4MH: One of the attractions at Flourish Australia’s booth at the TheMHS conference was SMILE 4MH. People purporting to partake in paradisical perambulations got to pose with pretty paraphernalia of their personal preference. The results were stunning (above and below). If being crazy is good them Im perfect 2

Industry Briefing

Matt Kean MP, Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, hosted a briefing attended by businesspeople, academics and representatives from non-government organisations. Together, the group looked closely at mental health issues in the workplace. This briefing was part of SafeWork NSW’s Work Health and Safety Roadmap for 2022, a six-year plan that aims to reduce work-related serious injuries and illnesses – including mental health issues – by 30 percent. Minister for Mental Health Tanya Davies spoke about how this industry gathering was an important opportunity to hear from those directly affected by mental health in the workplace.

“People will spend up to one third of their lives at work, which means the workplace is a huge opportunity to help support individual’s mental health,” said Mr Kean.

Flourish Australia’s Presentations

Here’s a list of the presentations given by members of our organisation.

“Health and Wellbeing. Feeling Physical. Innovative approaches to physical health and wellbeing.” Presenters: Janet Ford and Jade Ryall.

“Stepped care. A need to embrace change with innovative and pragmatic person-led mechanisms.” Presenter: Grant MacPhail.

“Leadership. Co-leadership in Mental Health and Wellbeing services and connection to the community.” Presenters: Pamela Rutledge and Fay Jackson.

“An innovative funding model of individual capacity building (ICB) trialled in IWSPIR: Proposition of a funding complement to NDIS funding.” Presenters: Dr Kate Ball & Sean Fitzgerald.

Next year’s TheMHS Conference will be in Adelaide. Be sure to get your tickets early!

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