My IIMHL and IIDL exchange for 2017 kicked off with a special ‘extra’ event, the summer TheMHS/IIMHL leadership retreat. The focus was on leadership roles for developing the workforce of the future. Professor Peter Hawkins from Henley Business School in the UK opened the day with thought provoking challenges around organisational change and leadership requirements to consider the future. Each presentation of the day was followed by a group discussion. 

I presented with Jean Luc Roelandt from France, who discussed changes in the French system including city involvement via legislation in mental health services. I presented the New Zealand perspectives, and focused on our workforce planning and data. This drew on some updates to the workforce planning resources that are soon to be released – watch this space! I also gave examples of our considerations of future workforce via On Track and Top of Scope.  

We then heard from Peter Gianfransesco from Neami on disruption and the elements required for change. Alan Rosen and Douglas Holmes presented on co-design principles and we finished the day with discussion on co-designing the future. 

On Monday and Tuesday I joined my leadership exchange at the New South Wales Institute of Psychiatry. The exchange was lead by Dr Rod Mackay, you may remember him as a speaker at last year’s information and outcomes forum in Wellington?  Our focus over the two days was on older people's mental health and recovery. We only had four people on our exchange, which perhaps speaks to the challenges with people having a passion for this area? Over the two days we gained some valuable insights into the progress of the NSW services. They had a 10-year strategic plan, followed by a detailed implementation plan. This included:

  • growing resources
  • developing benchmarking and models of care
  • developing transitional services
  • growing peer workforce
  • evaluation investment for every initiative.  

The exchange was very inspiring and I hope to host people on this topic later in the year so we can share their experience more widely. 

Wednesday I attended the IIMHL country leaders meeting in Sydney. We had presentations on suicide prevention, the international academy for people with lived experience (being run through Harvard) and the role of the International Alliance of Mental Health Research funders. 

Later on Wednesday I attended the opening of the IIMHL two day network meeting. This began with a wonderful expression from an Aboriginal dance group and an address by the Minister of Health.  Richard, Mark and Manase attended this event with me, alongside the 50+ New Zealand participants for IIMHL and IIDL. 

The conference programme over Thursday and Friday had a variety of speakers from addressing trauma to peer experiences and the impact of challenges for the Aborignal and Torres Strait Island community. Mark and I attended a reception at the Governor General General's residence in Sydney on Thursday evening.  This was to acknowledge the SPARK training that has occurred across Australia and New Zealand (ours being a few years ago now).  

We had our own Monique Faleafa present on the work of Le Va and Pacific issues on Friday morning. She provided a colourful presentation of solutions Le Va are developing to help Pacific communities.

Manase and I had our marketplace stall on Friday – check out Manase’s blog for a few photos of that!  Australia are embarking on the national disability insurance scheme for disability and mental health, aimed at ensuring “choice and control, not welfare and rationing, for people with lived experience of disability and mental health challenges” (Eddie Bartnik). 

Overall it was a great week with many connections made for all who attended. IIMHL does provide us a window into international work and experience, which helps us with our thinking for the work we do here at home. Te Pou get a lot of positive feedback on our work too, which is very positive and reaffirming for us!