CEO update
Clear Thinking for March 2017: Maintaining an optimistic vision of the future

Neami CEO Arthur PapakotsiasWith a huge amount of activity in our sector over the last few months, including submissions to the 5th National Mental Health Plan and the recent Parliament House Advocacy Day, I would like to take some time to share with you how we, at Neami, see the future.

This year we have seen the NDIS rolling out faster than expected in some areas and Primary Health Networks (PHN) commissioning a host of new services. Through these changes, we are seeing indicators of how recovery-oriented mental health services might look in the future. These developments provide some answers to questions about the funding landscape, but leave many remaining.

In this time of disruption, change and uncertainty, we are maintaining an optimistic vision of the future. We see a chance to develop new services and new approaches, to collaborate with others in delivering services, some we may not have seen before, and to support positive outcomes for people living with mental illness.

In North East Melbourne, where Neami started 30 years ago, we have been experiencing the complexity that the transition to the NDIS can produce. We continue to keep lines of communication open with consumers and other services around the NDIS. Our experience in Barwon following the acquisition of Pathways, has enabled us to learn, evaluate and remain focused on our vision and mission.

Being true to our commitment to provide community support, we are responding to the scale and complexity of the NDIS rollout through the establishment of Mental Health and Wellbeing Australia (Me Well). Through Me Well, we are transforming, not just transitioning, our services to support people in the way that best suits the NDIS environment.

It is still early days and this move is not without considerable challenges. We thank our staff for their openness and commitment while managing this uncertainty. I’m confident that through being innovative and continuing to do what we believe in, and guided by our values, we will not only meet future challenges but to thrive in these new landscapes.

Recovery orientated clinical services, such as the Links to Wellbeing consortium in South Australia and the blended clinical approach at the Cairns Community Care Unit, are showing us ways that future services can work successfully. Outcomes are demonstrating that by working in collaboration with clinical services and in partnership with other community services, we can achieve a collective impact.

It is through these and other developing services that we have been able to work in new places, with new people and sometimes with new approaches. Recently established programs for suicide prevention, working with young people and providing early interventions, see us exploring new areas, beyond Neami’s traditional psychosocial disability services.

The recently announced acquisition of the June O'Connor Centre, improves the sustainability of both organisations and the people we support.  Being here in Western Australia, I am delighted that we can ensure continuity of support while retaining the values and approach that provide real outcomes in reducing the unmet needs of people living with a mental illness.

At this time of change, I would like to acknowledge the work and dedication of Stephen Brand who has stepped down as Chair of our Board of Directors. Since 2011, Stephen’s valued leadership has seen us maintain stability in this period of growth and uncertainty. We welcome Sonia Law as Chair and Brad Wynter as Vice Chair. Their experience and thoughtful leadership will further enhance our capability as we work to improve the lives of people living with mental illness.

Arthur Papakotsias

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