CEO update
Clear Thinking for June 2017: Engagement with a specialist mental health system

Neami CEO Arthur PapakotsiasWith all the activity happening around the country, I welcome you to this edition of Clear Thinking as a chance to catch up with the latest news at Neami.

Along with delivering services to over 8000 consumers and establishing Me Well, our NDIS services subsidiary, we have launched two new Suicide Prevention services. The renewed funding opportunities that follow the Commonwealth Government National Suicide Prevention Strategy are welcome in this important area.

In Western Australia, we will provide Suicide Prevention Coordinators in metropolitan Perth. These staff will support local communities and services to best respond to those at risk of suicide through education and training.

In western New South Wales, Neami will operate new suicide prevention services in Dubbo, Orange and Broken Hill. These services will provide a "Green Card Clinic", offering individual follow-up support and brief interventions.  The name arose from a Sydney hospital, where people were given green appointment cards as reminders, after presenting to emergency with suicidal ideation or self-harm.

These services will work in partnership with local communities to raise awareness about suicide and enable them to assist others at risk. With the enhanced Commonwealth focus, we will report on how these new services are providing positive outcomes.

In May, I joined our Research and Evaluation Consumer Co-Chair Dave Peters to present at the public hearing of the Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) for the provision of services for people with psychosocial disabilities related to a mental health condition.

Dave shared his lived experience of mental illness and his journey with Neami. He expressed concerns at the lack of clarity around the NDIS planning process and advocated for the role of Peer Support Workers in the NDIS.

It was a valuable opportunity to share what we have learnt about the NDIS, how it is a great compliment to the mental health system, however, we need to maintain and resource a specialist mental health system. By replacing community mental health services with the NDIS and cashing out state funding, we risk people losing support due to gaps in eligibility and service provision. A straightforward way from here is to cease Commonwealth funded programs transitioning to NDIS as well as stopping the transfer of state-based funding – at least until the NDIS implementation has progressed. The Productivity Commission released its position paper on NDIS Costs last week with some acknowledgements of the risks and problems facing the rollout. Mental Health Australia’s Frank Quinlan breaks down key aspects of the 337-page draft report.

To ensure people who are transitioning to the NDIS can continue to receive recovery-based mental health support, we are continuing the rollout of our wholly owned subsidiary Mental Health and Wellbeing Australia, better known as ‘Me Well’. Neami National Chief Operating Officer, Jenny Hall, is leading the Me Well implementation, which requires responding with agility to the changing need. Following rapid recruitment in North East Melbourne, we expect the next year to see Me Well staff growth of 52%, with approximately 150 staff providing NDIS services to over 1200 customers. Stay tuned for the new Me Well website, going live in July.

In this time of disruption and transformation, it was fantastic to receive the results from our annual Staff Engagement Survey. With 78% of staff participating, we saw an increase in positive sentiment from staff across our services with a favourable engagement rating of 71%. The results once again place Neami staff engagement above the benchmarks for organisations in a range of industries in the South Pacific.

This increase reflects Neami’s belief that people are key to the organisation's success, and with 91% of staff recommending Neami as a great place to work, we find reassurance in our approach to provide specialist mental health services in this new funding environment.


Arthur Papakotsias
Chief Executive Officer, Neami National

News and events post type
Event start and end date