State & territory jurisdictional reports: Activity relating to mental health reform prior to the implementation of the Fourth National Mental Health Plan

9. Implement targeted prevention and early intervention programs for children and their families through partnerships between mental health, maternal and child health services, schools and other related organisations

Page last updated: December 2010

Department of Health and Ageing

  • beyondblue's key goals are to promote awareness, change community attitudes and improve services for people with depression and anxiety disorders.
  • The Department funds a range of prevention and promotion activities, as well as support for consumer and carer organisations, specifically:
    • MindMatters - the Australian Government's framework for improving mental health outcomes of secondary schools using a range of resources to increase the capacity of schools for mental health promotion and early intervention (also funded under the National Suicide Prevention Program)
    • Publications and materials to reduce stigma and raise awareness of mental illness and the rights of consumers and carers
    • The Children of Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI) project which aims to promote better mental health outcomes for children of parents with a mental health problem or disorder. It aims to increase the availability of information on how to enhance children's resilience, reducing risk factors and resources to assist children, workers and families in relation to parental mental illness (also funded under the NEIS initiative).
    • The National Youth Mental Health Initiative, which includes funding to headspace to provide a national, coordinated focus on youth mental health and related drug and alcohol problems in Australia and will improve access for young people with mental health problems to appropriate services and ensure better coordination between services. Top of page
  • National Perinatal Depression Initiative aims to improve the prevention and early detection of antenatal and postnatal depression, and to provide better care, support and treatment for expectant and new mothers experiencing perinatal depression.
  • The Department funds a range of prevention and promotion activities, as well as support for consumer and carer organisations, specifically:
    • MindMatters - the Australian Government's framework for improving mental health outcomes of secondary schools using a range of resources to increase the capacity of schools for mental health promotion and early intervention (also funded under the National Suicide Prevention Program)
    • Publications and materials to reduce stigma and raise awareness of mental illness and the rights of consumers and carers and
    • The Children of Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI) project which aims to promote better mental health outcomes for children of parents with a mental health problem or disorder. It aims to increase the availability of information on how to enhance children's resilience, reducing risk factors and resources to assist children, workers and families in relation to parental mental illness (also funded under the NEIS initiative). Top of page
  • The New Early Intervention Services for Parents, Children and Young People (NEIS) initiative provides a framework for mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention for children from birth to 12 years and funds activities including:
    • KidsMatter Primary initiative which aims to improve the mental health and wellbeing of primary school students, reduce mental health problems among students, and achieve greater support and assistance for students showing signs of mental health problems. It is being extended to a further 300 schools following its pilot project in 101 schools
    • KidsMatter Early Childhood initiative which aims to expand the KidsMatter concept into early childhood settings and enable preschools and long day care centres to implement evidence based mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention strategies that will improve the social and emotional health and wellbeing of children from birth to school age, reduce mental health problems, and achieve greater support and assistance for children showing signs of mental health problems. The initiative will be piloted in at least 110 preschools and long day care centres across Australia over the 2010 and 2011 calendar years
    • KidsMatter Transition to School: Parent Initiative which is an evidence-based approach to parenting guidance and support at the time of transition from preschool to primary school that will become an integrated part of the Parenting Support and Education component of the KidsMatter Primary School initiative
    • Strengthening early intervention pathways and ensuring the best available guidance and support is available on the management of significant mental health disorders such as eating disorders and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and
    • Early childhood initiatives for indigenous parents and children which expand the KidsMatter framework to develop culturally appropriate information and resources aimed at the indigenous early childhood sector and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and parents.
  • Support Autism MBS Items are a package of initiatives developed and implemented to support allied health professionals, consultant paediatricians, consultant psychiatrists and general practitioners in their care and management of children with autism and other pervasive developmental disorders. They aim to increase early and accurate diagnosis and access to essential early intervention therapy. The Department is providing appropriate orientation, information and training to professionals, to support the implementation of the items, through funding Allied Health Professions Australia; the Royal Australian College of General Practice; and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine. Top of page

Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

  • Mental Health Community Based Service work with carers and families impacted by severe mental illness to help build resilience and coping skills for the family as early intervention or prevention.
  • National Disability Agreement - As part of the National Disability Agreement, a National Framework for Service Planning and Access will be developed, focussing on providing a person centred approach to service delivery and to simplify access to specialist disability services.
  • Children's Policy - Whilst we do not deliver any targeted prevention and early intervention programs for children and their families, we are involved in several national projects which will influence the implementation of targeted prevention and early intervention programs as indicated in the action item. These include:
    • National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children 2009-2020 – On 30 April 2009, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) endorsed the National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children 2009-2020. All Australian governments have endorsed this National Framework and are committed to implementing the initial actions it contains. It is a long-term, national approach to help protect all Australian children. The National Framework represents an unprecedented level of collaboration between Australian, State and Territory governments and non-government organisations to protect children by placing children's interests firmly at the centre of everything we do. Enhancing mental health care responses for children who have been abused or neglected to ensure they receive the support and care they need is addressed in several priorities under the Framework. Top of page
    • National Early Childhood Development Strategy – On 2 July 2009, COAG endorsed the National Early Childhood Development Strategy-Investing in the Early Years (the Strategy). In jointly developing the Strategy, the Australian, State and Territory governments have signalled their intention to take a leadership role in early childhood development now and into the future. The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) is taking the lead on the Strategy which aims to improve the health, safety, early learning and well-being of all children and better support disadvantaged children to reduce inequalities. The Strategy will help all levels of government to build a more effective and better coordinated national early childhood development system to support the diverse needs of Australian children and their families. Whilst DEEWR is taking the lead with the Strategy as a whole, FaHCSIA has responsibility for Priority 2 (Support for Vulnerable Children) and is providing input and advice throughout the development phase.
  • Other projects and initiatives – FaHCSIA is also leading a project aimed at building the capacity of adult services (such as mental health) to have a focus on children and be able to refer families to appropriate services for the child.
  • Families and Children's Policy - Targeted prevention and early intervention programs for children and their families (9) – the Commonwealth and state, through the Early Childhood Strategy, are working on support for vulnerable children and their families, including mapping of relevant services (including mental health).
  • The Family Relationship Services are dealing with clients with increasingly complex needs. Significant increases were recorded between 2007/08 and 2008/09 for clients presenting with mental illness and drug and alcohol abuse issues. Diagnosed mental illness increased from 448 clients to 2377 (an increase of 430%) and drug and alcohol use increased from 7645 to 9340 (an increase of 22%). The aim of current program development is to offer more coordinated and responsive services that are a point of contact with the wider service system and to link clients to more appropriate services around specific to needs including mental health. Top of page
  • Developing tailored mental health care responses for highly vulnerable children is a priority under the National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children (responding to sexual abuse) and also links with the Early Childhood Strategy work.
  • Community Investment Program - aims to improve the responsiveness and integration of local community services to increase participation of vulnerable people in community life. This initiative funds a wide range of projects that promote social connectedness and civic engagement (protective factors known to impact on mental health and well being), intervene early to avoid family crisis, establish positive goals that help avert destructive influences and encourage and assist individuals to achieve their full potential. Projects are listed by state and territory at FaHCSIA's website.
  • Volunteer Grants - this initiative is part of the Australian Government's ongoing commitment to supporting volunteering, and building social inclusion and community participation in Australian communities. Details are available at volunteer grants section of FaHCSIA's website.
  • The Helping Children with Autism (HCWA) package gives greater access to a range of early intervention programs including one-on-one intensive activities and tailored group and individual programs.
    All eligible children with a diagnosis of an ASD, up to their seventh birthday have access to the early intervention funding of up to $12,000 (up to $6,000 per financial year) regardless of whether or not they have commenced school.
    Parents can choose the early intervention measures that best suit their child from a panel of service providers. In recognition of the additional challenges faced by families in outer regional and remote areas, they may also be eligible for a further $2,000 to help their children benefit from early intervention services, as well as training, respite and other resources.
    In addition to the HCWA package, the Government is establishing six Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres which will provide early learning programs and specific support to children with ASDs or ASD like symptoms in a long day care setting. Top of page

Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations

  • The Youth Connections program will be delivered under the National Partnership on Youth Attainment and Transitions. It builds on the success of some of the existing programs and streamlines support for young people.
    Youth Connections will be a service delivery program providing support for young people at risk of leaving school early or who have already disengaged from school.
    Youth Connections will improve education and life skills outcomes for all people at risk of not attaining Year 12 or equivalent and not making a successful transition to further education, training or work. Youth Connections will support personal development and facilitate connection with and progression through education.
    Youth Connections providers will offer a continuum of service to at risk and disengaged youth. Youth Connections will address barriers to transitioning through education and training to employment, including mental health issues and other personal barriers.

Human services portfolio

  • The Child Support Program has in place a range of partnerships aimed at supporting separated and separating families. Formal partnerships include; beyondblue – the national depression initiative, Kid's Help Line, Australian General Practice Network and a newly created partnership with ANZ Bank aimed at improving financial literacy. The Child Support Program works in partnership with Family Relationship Service Providers (through their Peak Body Family Relationship Services Australia) and Family Relationship Centres. The Child Support Program also works closely with legal practitioners and financial counsellors.