MENTAL HEALTH FOUNDATION AUSTRALIA
The Mental Health Foundation Australia had its origins as Australia's first Mental Health association, established in 1930 as the Victorian Council for Mental Hygiene, then later the Victorian Association for Mental Health. This was an era during which the State Government's handling of mental health was the responsibility of the Lunacy Department. The MHFA has been part of the National, and International Mental Health movement for close to 90 years. It has played a significant role in establishing the current network of services and support for Mental Health consumers. Many of the organisations now prominent in the Mental Health sector had their beginnings as a part of the MHFA.
Increased Funding is Essential
The Mental Health Foundation Australia is at a crossroads in its history. Despite the continued pressure to increase our services, our financial base and recurrent income are tenuous. Without significant financial support and the ability to fund paid staff, our continued existence is threatened. Currently, a team of dedicated volunteers has absorbed the increased workload but this cannot continue indefinitely.
Our organisation currently receives funding from the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services for the amount of $70,000 annually which equates to less than half our annual expenditure. Our own resources, gained over many years by donations and bequests including distributions from the Mental Health Foundation of Australia Endowment Fund, make up the balance of the funding, however, funding is a constant challenge.
We are currently a small not-for-profit, non-government organisation with 2 part-time workers (1.2 full-time equivalent) and all other services delivered by many volunteers.
The organisation urgently requires appropriate financial resourcing to be able to take maximum advantage of these opportunistic reforms, which place community groups as central drivers and service providers of mental health and suicide prevention support services and care.
Our history to date also shows a strong track record of developing evidence-based niche programs and services, which support the needs of our vulnerable community members. Being able and willing to provide expanded versions of these services, when and where needed, is achievable, but requires appropriate resourcing and support.
Currently, there are many avenues open to take the Foundation to a higher level; to become an important and leading provider of much-needed services. It would be a great loss to the community if the potential of the Foundation could not be realised.