In 2021 after 11 years of operation as a volunteer grassroots systemic advocacy group, Mental Health Matters 2 Ltd was registered as a Company Limited by Guarantee (ACN 647638444) and a Charitable Organisation.
Four of seven Board positions are designated for people with lived experience as individuals, family members or supporters with experience of mental health and/or alcohol and other drug challenges and possible experience with police, courts or prison.
The designated lived experience Board Directors are:
- Margaret Doherty, Founder and Chairperson
- Virginia Catterall, Treasurer
- Dr Ann McGuire
- Bridget Silvestri
The general Board Directors are:
- Joe Calleja
- Louise Southalan, Secretary
Biographies of Board Directors are available on the next page.
In 2010 MHM2 was founded as a volunteer grassroots systemic advocacy group. It aimed – and continues to aim – to improve the outcomes for individuals, families, carers and supporters with experience of mental health and alcohol and other drug challenges, many of whom found themselves caught up in the criminal justice system. Between 2010 and 2021, MHM2 consistently advocated with decision-makers to ensure that the voices and views of people with lived experience as individuals or family members helped to influence and inform the design and implementation of laws, policies and decisions which affected their lives. This inclusion is increasingly more common with approaches such as co-design and co-production being more regularly used in human services areas.
Between 2010 and 2021, a Steering Group of between 6-8 lived experience volunteers met monthly to guide MHM2’s work. Members of the Steering Group donated their time and expertise and did so while managing personal and family experiences at the ‘pointy end’. This ‘living experience’ gave and continues to give us a reality check between what is being promoted and what is being experienced on the ground.
In 2019, the Steering Group started to explore future possibilities for Mental Health Matters 2 and Families 4 Families WA in terms of future sustainability and succession planning. The COVID pandemic diverted attention for a while but following comprehensive and detailed discussions, including with key stakeholders, a decision was made to incorporate MHM2 Ltd as a Company Limited by Guarantee and a Charitable Organisation. This process was completed in early 2021.
MHM2 aims to work in ways that are Gracious, Just, Informed, Resolute and Hopeful.
- Gracious: Focus on the issue not the person, particularly at challenging times. Be kind.
- Informed: Speak from agreed, critical and contemporary understandings. Know what you’re talking about.
- Just: Be fair, equitable and inclusive in our engagement with others. Do the right thing.
- Hopeful: Explore possibilities while acknowledging difficulties Help and hold.
- Resolute: Be purposeful and determined in our work. Jack Russell Terrier. Stick.
What do we do?
MHM2 seeks to bring the voices and experiences of people and families at the ‘pointy end’ to decision-makers such as politicians, senior public servants and community agency management. People with ‘multiple, unmet needs’ are often the individuals and families who also experience discrimination, poverty and homelessness. They are often the individuals and families whom the system views as ‘too hard’ or ‘complex’ or for whom services are not properly designed or resourced.
MHM2 is known as a systemic advocacy group but we didn’t know that language when we started in 2010! We just wanted to change the system so that people would get better outcomes. That’s what we still want.
We are always interested to hear from people about their experiences and often help them navigate the system, but we don’t currently have the resources to provide individual advocacy. However, with permission, we communicate those experiences in a de-identified way to raise systemic gaps with decision-makers, as well as to congratulate services or individual practitioners (‘the angels in the system’) when they’re doing a good job.
Funding and Partnerships
To date, MHM2 has not sought nor received funding to run its core operations. While that has stretched us at times, we initially decided on that approach in 2010 on advice from consumer and family/carer leaders who had gone before us, to enable us to provide the most robust, independent advocacy possible.
Between 2010 – 2021, MHM2 has partnered with a number of organisations who auspiced grant funding which enabled us to participate in or lead a number of relevant projects. These partnerships / auspicing arrangements have included the following agencies:
- Curtin University School of Social Work and Occupational Therapy
- WA Association for Mental Health (WAAMH) – peak body of non-government agencies – https://waamh.org.au/
- ConnectGroups WA – peak body for self-help and support groups – https://connectgroups.org.au/
- Richmond Wellbeing – non-government agency – https://www.rw.org.au/
MHM2 was also fortunate to receive some bequest funds in 2014 which it has carefully used to lead partnership projects as well as provide training and development opportunities. The remainder of those monies has provided the ‘seed funding’ for the new entity.
As a Company Limited by Guarantee, the Board is carefully considering how best to proceed to ensure sustainability while maintaining our independent advocacy voice.
Paid Participation: We have always advocated for individuals to be paid for their time, energy and expertise in consultations or when giving presentations.
In 2014, MHM2 pioneered and trialled a tiered approach to paid participation in a project it initiated with a mental health non-government organisation (NGO). It is heartening to see that this tiered approach has been directly influential in the design of other policies such as that of the WA Mental Health Commission which is considered a leadership document in this area. https://www.mhc.wa.gov.au/media/3614/paid-participation-policy-consultation-completed-amended-policy.pdf.