Mind's advocacy function was formally established in 2017. 

Our approach to influencing for social change is underpinned by an explicit human rights framework, and a recognition that mental health and many common mental disorders are shaped to a great extent by the social, economic, and physical environments in which people live. In our mandate to influence for social change, we recognise that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. We recognise and seek to uphold civil and political rights, and recognise and seek to advance economic, social, and cultural rights.

The advocacy function sits within the integrated Advocacy and Research program and works to fulfill one of Mind's five strategic organisational goals, namely to ‘influence for social change’. 

We work closely with the Mind community to understand their experiences, and strive for social change on issues that matter to them. In practice, this means our work involves:

  • policy analysis and evidence-based policy development
  • applied research, and initiatives to test new policy solutions 
  • public awareness raising, campaign development and execution
  • coalition and network building 
  • private advocacy with key stakeholders 
  • designing and managing innovative programs and projects to empower the Mind community.

System reform

System reform

Mind is a central stakeholder in mental health and psychosocial disability networks, and recognised as an important and respected contributor to debates on system reform in Australia. We contribute to, and seek to shape public inquiries, and seek to ensure that our voice - and that of the community we serve - is heard in Australian policy forums.

Our recent contributions to system reform include submissions and reports to the following bodies and public inquiries: 

National

  • Joint Standing Commission into NDIS
  • Productivity Commission into Mental Health 

Mind, Caring Fairly, other peak body submissions we’re involved in, eg. MHA, VCOSS, ACOSS 

  • Australian Guardianship and Administrative Council

State

  • Submission to Royal commission TORs (Victoria)
  • Victorian Ombudsman’s investigation into State Trustees’ treatment of vulnerable people (Victoria)

Review of the NDIS Act

Review of the NDIS Act

Mind has made a submission to the Review of the NDIS Act and the new NDIS Participant Service Guarantee

Mind is a strong supporter of the NDIS and the inclusion of people with psychosocial disability in the Scheme. It is clear that since the scheme came into operation six years ago it has already improved the lives of many people with a psychosocial disability, particularly those in supported independent living. 

However, as has been well-documented, accessing and using the NDIS is difficult for people with psychosocial disability, and its introduction has severely disrupted the provision of services for this group of people. 

The submission calls upon the Department of Social Services and the NDIS to take into the account the unique needs of people with a psychosocial disability when implementing a Participant Service Guarantee and making amendments to the Act.

Read Mind Australia's response to the Review of the NDIS Act and the new NDIS Participant Service Guarantee

Productivity Commission: Inquiry into the Social and Economic benefits of Improving Mental Health

Productivity Commission: Inquiry into the Social and Economic benefits of Improving Mental Health

Mind presents the following submission to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into the Social and Economic Benefits of Improving Mental Health. We believe this inquiry is a major opportunity to re-evaluate Australia’s mental health policy and service system beyond the historical framing of illness and medical interventions. Failure to give more fundamental consideration to the broader socioeconomic issues underpinning mental health is one of the reasons why past reform efforts have been met with limited success, despite the considerable policy attention given to the area.

The following submission will address those areas of the Issues Paper where Mind feels it can contribute evidence based policy commentary and practical solutions, several of which we believe are capable of being rapidly scaled up. In particular, our submission focuses on the reforms that are needed to enhance productivity and participation for people with high-medium, high and complex mental health needs.

The submission begins by setting out areas where we feel the draft report should be reframed in order to better realise the Commission’s key aims around education, training and participation. It focuses on the essential components to improving mental health, with an emphasis on what we believe is a mismatch between what the bulk of the health care system is structured to deliver and the actual nature of need for those with mental ill-health, particularly at the serious end of the spectrum, and the workforce best equipped to deliver this. The submission will examine the areas of housing and homelessness, income support, psychosocial disability support services in the context of service gaps in the NDIS, justice, and education, training and government support to find a job.

To read Mind’s full submission to the Commission, click here.

Royal Commission into mental health (Victoria)

Royal Commission into mental health (Victoria)

Mind strongly supports the establishment of a Victorian Royal Commission into mental health (the Commission), and we welcome this opportunity to contribute to the design of the Commission’s terms of reference. We wish to promote a human rights based operational framework, together with ten key recommendations on the scope and process that Mind considers to be of critical importance.

We also wish to acknowledge the complexity involved in managing a public inquiry of this scale. The architecture of the Commission, including the terms of reference (ToR) and the Commission’s governance structures must be sufficiently robust and transparent so as to manage the vast expectations of many Victorians.

Mind’s submission outlines the issues that we believe the Commission should address:

  • Adopt a human rights framework to guide the inquiry
  • Centre the voices of people with experiences of mental ill-health
  • Treat different ways of knowing about mental ill-health and recovery equally
  • Include in scope all social determinants of mental ill-health
  • Examine the impact of State/Commonwealth arrangements on individuals
  • Ensure an equal focus on clinical and community-managed mental health services
  • Explore expanded roles for community-managed mental health services
  • Explore expanded roles for the peer workforce and peer-led services
  • Listen to people’s negative experiences of mental health services
  • Examine the intersections with other concurrent national inquiries

To read Mind's full submission to the Commission, click here.

NDIS should support people with mental health disability

NDIS should support people with mental health disability

The debate about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and its suitability for people with severe and persistent mental illness is of concern. We believe people with mental health disability should be supported through the scheme as it offers the best model for giving people control over their lives.

There are some problems with how the scheme works to accommodate the episodic nature of mental illness and fluctuating support needs. As the scheme evolves and develops, these issues can be ironed out. We are ready to work with consumers and the NDIA to develop strategies for improving the scheme. We strongly advocate for the NDIS to continue to support people with mental health disability so they can achieve a better life.

Those who miss out on support - due to the shifting of community-based mental health services dollars into the NDIS - is also a big issue. Early intervention and support for those who are recovering from episodes of mental illness is fundamental to preventing disability. We cannot allow a person to struggle without support until ongoing disability emerges.

View Response to the Joint Standing Committee inquiry into the provision of services under the NDIS

View Response to the Productivity Commission inquiry into NDIS costs

Marriage equality plebiscite

Marriage equality plebiscite

Mind expressed its concern that the marriage equality plebiscite could cause significant damage to the mental health of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTIQ) community.

We believe the campaigns in the lead up to a plebiscite had a negative and destructive impact on LGBTIQ Australians, especially young people and their families, some of whom are already grappling with mental health issues. 

Stigma around sexuality and gender identity and related exclusion are existing drivers for poor mental health.  

LGBTIQ people have the highest rates of suicidality of any population in Australia. An Australian survey of gender variant and sexually diverse young people found that almost two thirds had experienced homophobia or transphobia, and that more than two in five young people interviewed had had thoughts of self-harm (41%) and/or suicide (42%). (Robinson et al., 2014)

This situation had the potential to worsen dramatically in the context of the negative public campaigning that occured in the lead up to the plebiscite.

There is strong evidence from other countries that legislating for marriage equality following a public decision-making mechanism had a negative effect. 

Mind supported the immediate legalisation of marriage equality, giving the LGBTIQ community the long awaited recognition of their human rights. Funds saved as a result could have been redirected to help underrepresented communities, particularly young people with mental ill-health.

Mind continued to raise its concerns throughout the plebiscite and supported our clients, their families and our staff in the lead up to, during and after the plebiscite.    

Robinson K, Bansel P, Denson N, Ovenden G, Davies C (2014) Growing Up Queer: Issues facing young Australians who are gender variant and sexually diverse. Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre, Melbourne, Australia.

Australian marriage law postal survey

Australian marriage law postal survey

Mind supports marriage equality for all Australians. 

Following the outcome of the High Court’s deliberations, we were disappointed that the Australian marriage law postal survey was to go ahead. 

The marriage law postal survey is not just a legal or administrative process. Corrosive and hateful public campaigning has been a feature of public discourse around similar processes across the world. We saw these trends here in Australia. The postal survey undermines the human dignity and fundamental human rights of LGBTIQ people across Australia, as well as impacting on their mental health and wellbeing, by exposing them to views that represent them as lesser than other human beings.

Human rights are not granted or taken away by ‘survey’ or other form of vote. Minority rights should never be subject to the whim of the majority. The premise of this process, which was a non-binding survey and did not compel parliament to do anything one way or the other, made a mockery of established international legal norms, including those which Australia has spent decades advocating abroad. 

As human beings, we all have the right to form our own opinions, and as participants in a parliamentary democracy, we have the right to elect leaders who reflect our values, aspirations, and priorities. It is those leaders who should address the issue. The argument that marriage equality should have a special status within our democracy and therefore be subject to direct democracy suggests that the value we place on LGBTIQ Australians is somehow in doubt. It is not. 

Despite our opposition to a survey process for marriage equality, we believed it was important for people to participate in the survey, particularly if you believe LGBTIQ Australians should have equal rights and status. Mind is committed to equality and human rights protection for all. Every single LGBTIQ person is entitled to the same legal protections and status as everyone else – and that includes the right to get married to the person they love.

Caring Fairly

Caring Fairly

Caring Fairly is a national campaigning coalition led by unpaid carers, and specialist organisations and peak bodies that support and advocate for their rights. Established in August 2018 and led by Mind, Caring Fairly is made up of over 25 organisations, spanning all states and territories of Australia. A full list of coalition members can be found at caringfairly.org.au.    

  • Caring Fairly has a human rights-based agenda for social and policy change. We are leading a political advocacy and public awareness raising campaign focused on improving and realising the economic, social, and cultural rights of all unpaid carers in Australia. In practical terms we are especially focused on improving workforce participation and workplace conditions for unpaid carers, improving the long-term economic security of all unpaid carers, and improving social outcomes for young carers. 
  • We have invested in leading edge new research - and produced evidence-based policies - that we believe promote fairer and more inclusive outcomes for all unpaid carers in Australia at home, in the workplace, and in society.
  • Caring Fairly is a movement that wants to lead a new public conversation about the value we attach to those who care. Please visit caringfairly.org.au for more information about our activities, evidence base, policy agenda, supporters, and impact.

For more information visit Caring Fairly.

Housing and homelessness

Housing and homelessness

Since 1977, the provision of housing and residential services has been at the core of Mind’s approach to community based mental health care. Our practice wisdom and evidence has consistently shown us that the economic and social impacts of inadequate housing has enormously destructive impacts on our consumers, their families and carers. Undesirable and sometimes unsafe accommodation not is conducive to recovery, or to an acceptable quality of life.

Since 2017, Mind’s approach to housing and mental health has been strengthened by the establishment of a new division focused on policy advocacy and social change. Since January 2018, Mind has been engaged in a major project, Trajectories, with the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute. Through Trajectories, Mind is developing an applied understanding of the housing and mental health pathways of people with lived experience of mental ill-health, the interaction of these pathways, and potential points of intervention identified through this understanding. 

Learn more about Trajectories

Justice in Mind

Justice in Mind

Justice in Mind (JiM)is a multi-site health-justice partnership seeking to address structural injustices and patterns of inequality and disadvantage experienced by individuals living with the impact of mental ill-health in Victoria. JiM combines an early intervention model of directly accessible legal advice and representation at multiple community mental health settings in Victoria, with a program of systemic rights-based advocacy, coalition building, policy development, and legal education across the community sector. 

JiM was established by Mind and WEstjustice in 2017 in recognition of the organisations’ shared mission objectives. Throughout 2017-18, JiM expanded to incorporate partnerships with Darebin Community Legal Centre, Peninsula Community Legal Centre, West Heidelberg Community Legal Service, and Northern Community Legal Centre. 

In late 2018, JiM was awarded $430,000 in funding from the Victorian Legal Services Board Grant Program. This funding will enable Mind to substantially expand the reach of JiM, help more people, and design a best-practice model for delivering legal services in community mental health settings.