APS giving spotlight on mental health

According to The Black Dog Institute, almost half of all Australians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime.

This special piece of APS content encourages the conversation about mental health and connects the APS community with a selection of charities working toward a mentally healthier Australia.

First up, we recommend you check out the web documentary series The Common Thread by filmmaker Darius Devas, in partnership with Documentary Australia Foundation and backed by Screen Australia. Darius travelled across Australia talking to young people about their experiences of mental ill-health and how they tackled it.

In conversation with Pro Bono Australia, Darius said, “Across the board, there was just this overwhelming generosity in being honest and vulnerable with where they are at in their lives. And I just had such a clear sense of how powerful that was going to be for others to hear their stories.”




Future Generation Companies engage APS


Earlier this year, the APS Grantmaking team was commissioned to review the funding outcomes associated with Future Generation Australia’s charitable investment in charities focused on children and youth at risk and Future Generation Global’s investment in youth mental health charities.

> Read the entire article



Mental health charities for your consideration

In FY19, nearly one in 10 APS clients supported a charity focused on mental health. These donations totalling over $1.5 million are helping to provide the necessary services to support people of all ages around Australia with mental health issues. The APS Grantmaking team has selected a handful of mental health charities which have been supported by APS clients to share with the broader APS community. Should you have a particular interest in any aspect of the mental health sector, and would like more guidance as to how you could help, get in touch with our team.

 Younger children

kidsxpress-squareKidsXpress (NSW) provides trauma-focused programs to help children, caregivers and professionals transform the impact of childhood trauma into a life full of hope and a future our children deserve. It was established in 2005 to address the lack of services available to support children living with the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) – childhood traumas such as emotional or physical abuse, neglect and household substance abuse, all of which are experiences known to have huge impact on a child’s life trajectory. Through the delivery of trauma-focused therapy and education, KidsXpress provides mental health support for children aged four onwards.


Young people

kidshelpline-squareKids Helpline (QLD-based, national) operated by yourtown, is Australia’s only free and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25. Since 1991, Kids Helpline’s specialised counsellors have responded to over eight million contacts, offering practical help and emotional support to children and young people at critical moments in their lives. Since 2013, the number of duty of care interventions due to concerns about the risk of suicide and child abuse have gone up by 40%, highlighting the importance of the Kids Helpline service to ensure that children and young people in crisis can get the help they need.


backtrack-squareBackTrack (regional NSW, Armidale) helps young people aged 12 and 19 years who are having a hard time, get back on track. The young people supported by BackTrack’s programs have multiple and complex life challenges, are falling through the cracks of society and at risk of contact with juvenile justice. The organisation focuses on reconnecting young people with education and training, becoming work ready and securing meaningful employment. Backtrack’s programs have an 87% success rate in developing positive life pathways and full participation in communities.


dismantle-squareDismantle (WA) enables and empowers vulnerable young people to live their life in a self-directed way. It runs a flagship bike rescue program that uses bicycle mechanic activities and mentors to help young people develop social skills, build confidence and connect to educational and vocational opportunities. More recently, it has expanded to operate a licensed program for BikeRescue, which involves training relevant local community members to run the program, as a way of ensuring sustainable capacity building.


Older people

HHHP-squareHappy Paws, Happy Hearts (QLD) connects disengaged or vulnerable Australians (including older Australians, people with mental and/or physical disabilities and veterans) with animals requiring care as they await adoption. HPHH offers animal care, handling and training programs designed to give participants a rewarding personal development experience as they nurture and care for shelter animals. A major differentiator of this program is its focus on purpose and community re-engagement; engaging the socially isolated in care, training and then volunteering with animal care, rather than simply facilitated exposure to animals.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

culture-is-life-squareCulture is Life (VIC-based, national) supports and promotes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led solutions to prevent youth suicide, with a deep emphasis on strengthening connection to culture and country. This approach recognises that experiences of racism and intergenerational trauma are significant risk factors for the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.

In Australia, suicide remains a leading cause of death for young people. The suicide rate among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people remains unacceptably high at more than double the national suicide rate. Culture is Life builds awareness and influences public debate to strengthen support and funding for culturally safe initiatives in regional and remote Australia. The program draws on a growing body of international evidence demonstrating the role of cultural strengthening as a key protective factor for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.

LGBTIQ+ people

pinnacle-squareMental ill-health can be associated with common bullying and marginalisation experienced by the LGBTIQ+ community. The Pinnacle Foundation (national) provides educational and vocational support to young adults across Australia where their gender identity, sexual orientation or sexual characteristics have prevented or hindered achievement of their career aspirations or personal development. It offers multi-year scholarships nationally to students aged between 17 and 26 to study at public higher education institutions in Australia, to achieve educational or vocational qualifications in any profession, trade or the arts. Scholarships may also be awarded to complete Year 12 schooling. Importantly, scholars are matched with mentors who share the same academic and professional interests, gender identity, sexual orientation or sexual characteristics.


SVA Perspectives: Mental Health paper

sva-perspectivesSocial Ventures Australia (SVA) has developed an evidence-based perspective on what is required to reduce the incidence, prevalence and impact of mental ill-health in Australia. The SVA Perspectives: Mental Health paper, developed in partnership with Equity Trustees and funded through Equity Trustee’s Sector Capacity Building program, outlines three drivers of better outcomes in Australia’s mental health sector:

    • Public awareness and prevention approaches that reduce the incidence, prevalence and impact of mental ill-health
    • Early intervention and integrated supports and services that are available when and where people need them
    • Appropriate service systems that empower and support personal, clinical, social and functional recover

> Read the full paper for more information, including case studies and insights for how to enable this change in the sector.


Co-funding opportunity

AFMHAustralians for Mental Health (AFMH)
Australians for Mental Health (AFMH) is a bipartisan organisation of 15,000 individuals touched by mental illness. They are bound by the idea that mental health reform must become a national political priority to achieve historic change. AFMH’s primary objective is to ensure that all Australians impacted by mental illness have access to high quality, affordable care when they need it.

AFMH is a growing organisation that has received a Federal government commitment of $113 million to establish eight adult community hubs; one-stop-shops for people to get their mental health needs met. With your support, AFMH will build a grassroots advocacy campaign to help increase this to 151 hubs, one for each Federal electorate across the country, including rural and regional areas. AFHM is also part of a global campaign called Speak Your Mind. It has galvanised 15 countries to get a better deal for millions of people experiencing mental illness around the world.

The MaiTri Foundation has made a $150,000 gift to AFMH (the most significant grant the foundation has made in a single financial year). AFMH has also secured an additional $150,000 from another philanthropic source. The MaiTri Foundation is looking for co-funders to raise an additional $750,000 to achieve AFMH’s fundraising target. This funding will be applied to the expansion of AFMH’s organisational structure and support its capacity to deliver their national campaign and advocacy effort to help amplify the voices of Australians living with mental ill-health. The campaign is a registered charity with deductible gift recipient (DGR1) status.

> For more information, contact Suparna Bhasin, Co-Director, MaiTri Foundation