Message from the Coordinator-General OMHW - Dr Elizabeth Moore

Welcome to our Winter Edition of the Office for Mental Health and Wellbeing Newsletter.
As restrictions ease for our community, we continue to find new ways of engaging and supporting one another through a very unusual time. The mental health and wellbeing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and its necessary restrictions will continue as we move out of the current phase and into recovery.
It’s been a challenging year, but we also know that as a community we are seeing some incredible innovation and initiatives that work towards supporting each other.
I am committed to providing mental health and wellbeing support to our community and, in partnership with ACT Government directorates and key community organisations, we have provided a range of online information to support individuals and families. This is available through the ACT Health website and will be updated on a regular basis.
The Mental Health Support Package announced in May includes an innovation grants process to continue our community’s recovery. 

I am proud to say our team has been able to continue working on some of our key projects identified in the Office Work Plan.  
The work identified in the Review of Children and Young People in the ACT and the implementation of the LifeSpan framework in the ACT are core elements to improve our mental health and wellbeing. We are working closely with government and non-government organisations, consumers and carers and I am thankful for the level of commitment from our community members to continue codesigning and implementing these key pieces of work.
I hope you find this Newsletter interesting and useful. As always, if you have any suggestions or comments, please feel free to contact the Office.
Kind regards
We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the ACT, the Ngunnawal people. We acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and region.
In this Issue
  • Mental Health Support Package Information
  • COVID-19 MHW Innovation Grants Program
  • LifeSpan Steering Committee Meeting
  • Youth Aware of Mental Health (YAM)
  • LifeSpan Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Working Group
  • Healthier Work promotes QPR for Business
  • QPR Training for individuals information
  • October is Mental Health Month!  Register for events now.
  • A different perspective on life during a pandemic
  • OMHW Works from Home – it’s not all fun and games, but some of it can be!
Also in this Issue: Surveys - Webinars - Newsletters - Resources
  • Online Youth Navigation Portal Update and Survey
  • HCCA Survey on long term conditions (carers and consumers)
  • Canberra Safe Haven Cafe Webinar 
  • Physical Activity for your Mental Health Webinar
  • Emerging Minds Newsletter
  • ACT Multicultural Community Newsletter
  • CALD COVID-19 Update
  • COVID Resources
  • Help is here if you need it

ACT Government Announces $4.5 million Mental Health Support Package

The Office for Mental Health and Wellbeing has worked closely within ACT Health and across all Directorates to develop strong and targeted responses to the emerging mental health impacts of both the bushfires and the pandemic. These have been challenging times and we know from previous events like these, there will continue to be challenges as we go forward. 

The Office is pleased to announce that the ACT Government has responded with a $4.5 million Mental Health Support Package that will place us in a stronger position to support people in the community.  This package as well as a number of other community-based supports are set out in the ACT Community Recovery Roadmap.  The ACT Government has also joined in the development of the National Mental Health Pandemic Response Plan.  

COVID-19 Mental Health and Wellbeing Innovation Grants Program (MHWIGP)
Are you keen to contribute to the mental health and wellbeing of Canberrans and their local community as we recover from the impacts of COVID-19? Do you have great ideas on ways to improve people’s mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 health crisis?
The ACT Government is seeking applications from organisations, groups and individuals that have ‘outside the box’, innovative, creative and effective ideas to support the mental health and wellbeing of the community as it rebuilds from the impacts of the pandemic.
How can you and your team, organisation or community get involved to help to build resilience, increase social connection and support people to cope a little bit better and smile a little bit more? Think “new”, “fresh” and “focus” on how we can be better together!
There is up to $350,000 in funding available to support initiatives of up to 12 months in length. There are two distinct grants streams: 

* The Organisation Grants Stream, which has a total of $300,000 available for eligible applicants that have the capacity and ability to reach larger numbers of people in the ACT community. Under this stream, organisations can apply for between $10,000 and $75,000

* The Community Grants Stream, which has a total of $50,000 available for programs and activities for more localised groups such as neighbourhoods, local communities or groups that have common interests. Under this stream, eligible applicants can apply for up to $10,000. 

Don’t forget, all ideas and resources need to fit with essential social distancing requirements as they change, while building resilience and connectedness at the same time.  
Applications can be submitted from midday on Monday 29 June 2020 and the closing date is midday Friday 17 July 2020.
For more information, including accessing the application form and funding guidelines, please visit the ACT MHWIGP’s webpage at

The Lifespan Steering Committee held its second meeting for 2020 on 28 May via MicroSoft Teams.  This was the first on-line meeting and was well attended.  It is apparent that this group is not going to let COVID19 stop the important work that these stakeholders oversee. 
Brooke Dyason, Schools Suicide Prevention Officer for ACT Lifespan, provided a comprehensive overview of activities of the Schools Working Group, including the Youth Aware of Mental Health Program (YAM), which recommences in ACT high schools in June following the COVID-19 disruption. Alison Calear and Phil Batterham gave an update on the March meeting of the Improving Public Safety Working Group, which saw a presentation on Mindframe Plus, and flagged the upcoming discussion on PACER at the next meeting of the group on 17 June 2020. Thanks also to Aunty Lydia George and Neville Perkins who spoke about the progress of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Working Group which continues to meet monthly, including the Needs Assessment currently underway for a culturally appropriate suicide prevention service for the ACT.
Ros Garrity and Black Dog Institute spoke about the inaugural meeting of the Health Working Group in March, covering the ongoing RESTORE study and the plans for Connecting with People Training rollout in ACT Health. Capital Health Network provided an update on QPR and the StepCare GP Screening Program.  All committee members agreed to share their excellent COVID-19 mental health support resources for the local community. For further information, contact Ros Garrity, Director of ACT Lifespan.

ACT Lifespan Steering Committee meeting online on
28 May 2020 – even our canine Lifespan Champion Casey put in an appearance!

Youth Aware of Mental Health (YAM) is back!

After a pause due to Covid-19, YAM recommenced in ACT High Schools in Term 2 on 15th June. YAM Instructors and Helpers (pictured) were excited to get back into schools and are looking forward to continuing their great work delivering the YAM program. In the ACT, YAM will be delivered to Year 9 students in ACT schools in 2020 and 2021. YAM is an evidence-based suicide prevention and mental health awareness program run across five sessions that aims to build resilience, encourage help-seeking and equip young people with the skills and confidence to look after themselves and each other. In Term 2, 140 Year 9 students across Caroline Chisholm School and Namadgi School will complete YAM and in Term 3 782 students across Canberra High School, Campbell High School, St. Francis Xavier College and Mt. Stromlo High School will complete the program.

ACT LifeSpan Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Working Group
The ACT LifeSpan Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Working Group continues to meet monthly online with Aunty Lydia George and Steven Keed acting as co-chairs.  This Working Group has considered and given good advice about such significant matters as:
  • ACT LifeSpan Live Action Plan
  • ACT Community Forum on Indigenous Suicide and Mental Health (this was postponed due to COVID19 restrictions but will be rescheduled as soon as allowed, hopefully this calendar year)
  • the new culturally appropriate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Training Program to be delivered by Wesley LifeForce post Pandemic restrictions in the ACT
Following advice from the Working Group, Black Dog Institute recently commissioned a Needs Assessment of the proposed new culturally appropriate Indigenous Suicide Prevention, Intervention, Postvention and Aftercare Service to be completed by 31 July this year. The prime purpose of this Needs Assessment is to inform and support the ACT Budget business case for funding for the proposed culturally appropriate service. The secondary purpose of the Needs Assessment is to inform the recently announced ACT Government COVID-19 Mental Health Support Program, especially as it relates to a short-term Indigenous Suicide Prevention Program. The two consultants conducting the Needs Assessment are on track and they have been busy talking to many interested individuals and non-government organisations to date.
News from Healthier Work
In the face of COVID-19, the ACT Government has expanded the supports available to local workplaces and workers under its Mentally Healthier Workplaces initiative.
For local non-government workplaces, these supports now include free access to two online mental health training programs: 
  1. Mindarma (as in Mind Armour): evidence-based e-learning, supported by Black Dog Institute, proven to boost mental fitness and protect mental health.
  2. Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) for Business: free online suicide prevention training, valuable for all workplace staff (only takes 60 minutes). This training is made possible through ACT LifeSpan and Black Dog Institute.
If you’re an eligible workplace, you can register for one or both training programs and make them available for up to 30 employees. Hurry, as places are limited.

Register your interest today at:

How you can get involved!

Mental Health Month is an annual event celebrated in over 100 countries in an effort to raise community awareness and understanding of mental illness, reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness, and promote positive mental health and wellbeing. World Mental Health Day 2020 is Saturday 10 October.

The impacts of COVID-19 have affected both business ‘as usual’ for us all, as well as the mental health of the wider communities. It almost goes without saying that MHM in 2020 will look very different, as measures and restrictions are in place to keep us all safe. A COVID-19 safe alternative program has been developed that will still focus on raising awareness and reducing the stigma of Mental Health.

The program will focus around:

Mental Health Month Reimbursement Grants

Wellness organisations and small business operators are being encouraged to apply to help them host a MHM event in October 2020 – to reflect the current focus on mental health & wellbeing in light of the COVID-19 impacts felt around the ACT (and beyond).

Find out more details here.

Mental Health Month Events 

Even if you aren’t eligible for a reimbursement grant, host an event during Mental Health Month to spread awareness and reduce the stigma of mental health.

Registrations will open later in July.

Wellbeing PrioriTea   

For those not able to host a specific event, the Wellbeing PrioriTea encourages organisations of all types and sizes to host a gathering that creates a space to have conversations with your co-workers, peers, or community members about mental wellbeing over a cuppa.

When you register to host a Wellbeing PrioriTea at your workplace, or in your community group you will receive a pack that contains a ‘conversation starter’ quiz as well as tools and resources from leading mental health organisations.

Registrations will open later in July.

To find out more about Mental Health Month head to: 

70 years after the pandemic - a different perspective
Child - "How old are you, Grandpa?"
Grandpa - "I'm 81, dear."
Child - "So does that mean you were alive during the Coronavirus?"
Grandpa - "Yes, I was."

Child - "Wow. That must have been horrible, Grandpa. We were learning about that at school this week. They told us about how all the schools had closed. And moms and dads couldn't go to work so didn't have as much money to do nice things.
They said that you weren't allowed to go and visit your friends and family and couldn't go out anywhere. They told us that the shops and stores ran out of lots of things so you didn't have much bread, and flour, and toilet rolls.
They said that summer holidays were cancelled. And they told us about all those thousands of people that got very sick and who died.
They explained how hard all the doctors and nurses and all essential workers worked, and that lots of them died, too.
That must have been so horrible, Grandpa!"
Grandpa - "Well, that is all correct. And I know that because I read about it when I was older. But to tell you the truth I remember it differently...
I remember playing in the garden for hours with mom and dad and having picnics outside and lots of BBQ's. I remember making things and fishing with my Dad and baking with my Mom.
I remember making forts and learning how to do hand stands and back flips. I remember having quality time with my family.
I remember Mom's favourite words becoming 'Hey, I've got an idea...'
Rather than 'Maybe later or tomorrow I'm a bit busy'. I remember making our own bread and pastry. I remember having movie night three or four times a week instead of just one.
It was a horrible time for lots of people you are right. But I remember it differently."
Remember how our children will remember these times. Be in control of the memories they are creating right now, so that through all the awful headlines and emotional stories for so many that they will come to read in future years, they can remember the happy times.”
- Author unknown
OMHW Staff Found that some of the stress of working from home during COVID19 restrictions can be relieved with a little bit of a decadent treat and a good book at the end of the day.  The team can highly recommend the following:
Fleur's Honey Almond Slice

90g butter, melted
½ cup (100g) firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup (150g) plain flour
½ cup (60g) packaged ground almonds

125g butter, chopped
¼ cup (60ml) honey
1 ½ cups (210g) slivered almonds

BASE METHOD: Combine all ingredients in small bowl while the butter is still warm; mix well. Press mixture into a 20cm x 30cm greased, or lined with baking paper, lamington pan.

Bake in a moderate oven about 12 minutes or until browned; allow to cool.

TOPPING METHOD: Combine butter and honey in a small heavy-based saucepan, stir over heat until butter is melted.

Simmer, uncovered, about 3 minutes or until mixture is a light caramel colour; stir in nuts.

Spread cooled base with hot topping, bake in moderate oven about 15 minutes or until browned; cool in pan.

My tips: I always ensure the slice base is quite cool before I pour the topping over the slice base. i.e. prepare the base first.  

When I pour the melted butter into dry ingredients for the base I mix it with a spoon and then as it binds crumble the mixture with my fingers. It becomes a lovely consistency. When you press it into the slice base into the tin try and make sure it is evenly spread, as it makes for a better base.

 Enjoy and Bon Appétit

Ros' Book Review 

Phosphorescence by Julia Baird

For those looking for an inspirational read in this challenging time in our history, Julia Baird’s Phosphorescence is a great choice. Part memoirs, part philosophy, and with memorable quotes like the one below from Albert Camus, it provides insights about how to live a life that is rewarding and meaningful even in the darkest times, and to find the light, or ‘phosphorescence’ within. It’s well worth curling up on the couch with this book on the cold winter days ahead!

In the midst of winter, I found there was,

within me, an invisible summer:

And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter

how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s

something stronger – something better, pushing right back.

Albert Camus, The Stranger


Surveys - Webinars -Newsletters - Resources

Online Youth Navigation Portal
Information and Survey

The Office has partnered with the Australian National University, the Youth Coalition and other community organisations to begin planning the Online Youth Navigation Portal (the Portal). The Portal will be a one-stop shop for children, young people and their parents/carers to find and access mental health services, support and information.

Developing and implementing the Portal for the ACT was a key project from the recent Children and Young People Review and was also a recommendation from the ACT Youth Advisory Committee.

We are currently in the first phase of scoping and consultation for the Portal and we want to hear from you! Your feedback will help shape the portal from the ground up, and ensure young people, parents and carers have access to quality mental health support where and when they need it.

The survey is part of the first phase of consultation, if you’d like to be involved in the next phase of planning and consultation please email


Looking after your health with a long-term condition: Consumer and carer experiences during COVID-19

  • Do you have one or more long-term health condition, or do you care for someone who does?
  • Do you, or the person you care for, use health services in the ACT?
If so, the HCCA invites you to share your experience in a short survey. This will take many people about 15 minutes.  For the consumer survey click here. It asks about:
  • What you usually do to look after your health
  • Any people and organisations that help you to do this
  • Anything that makes this difficult, and
  • Any ways that COVID-19 has changed how you look after your health.
 For the carer survey click here here. It asks about:
  • How you support the person you care for to look after their health
  • Any people and organisations that help you to do this
  • Anything that makes this difficult, and
  • Any ways that COVID-19 has changed how you do this.

The surveys are part of a Health Care Consumers’ Association project that is supported by the ACT Health Directorate. Your answers help HCCA to document the issues for carers and consumers, and work with health services to improve care.

Register through Eventbrite 

Join this webinar with Associate Professor Simon Rosenbaum to hear how staying active can protect your mental health.

Simon spoke at the Healthier Work Forum in October last year and was a sensation. We’re pleased to have him back as part of our COVID-19 webinar series to discuss the important relationship between physical activity and mental health. In this 45-minute webinar you’ll hear how COVID-19 may be impacting our mental health, how physical activity can benefit our mood, what types of physical activity are best, and importantly, what workplaces can do to support staff to be active.

When: Wednesday 8 July 2020, 11am
Register through Eventbrite
Emerging Minds has released its June Newsletter (view it here)
ACT Multicultural Community eNews Bulletin  (view it here
COVID-19 Update No. 4 for Organisations Supporting Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Communities (view it here) 
For the latest information about COVID-19 in the ACT, please visit the ACT Health Directorate website. This site includes Public Health Alerts, which contain the latest information about COVID-19 in the ACT community and is updated regularly. 

Black Dog Institute have been preparing a range of resources targeted at supporting  mental wellbeing during the unfolding Covid-19 situation. This includes resources and referral pathways for individuals, schools and workplaces, guidance for health professionals and finally policy recommendations.
BDI now has a dedicated page on our website through which we are making these available, and we will be continually updating this with new materials which are currently under development
You can also subscribe for automatic updates on any further resources here:
Websites with information regarding mental health and COVID-19 that you also might find useful:
If you are having very strong feelings of worry, unease or fear and you are struggling to cope it is important to seek support
Lifeline Australia     13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service: 1 300 659 467
MensLine Australia: 1300 789 978
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
Beyond Blue online chat

Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800
Kids Helpline WebChat counselling

Thank you for taking the time to read this Newsletter.  Please feel free to forward this email on to your network.    Feedback and comments are very welcome.

Office for Mental Health and Wellbeing
6 Bowes Street, Philip  ACT 2606
OMHW Website
Copyright © 2020 ACT Health Office for Mental Health and Wellbeing, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
GPO Box 825, Canberra City, ACT 2601

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

This email was sent to <<>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Office for Mental Health and Wellbeing · Level 3, 2-6 Bowes Street · Phillip, ACT 2606 · Canberra, ACT 2606 · Australia

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp