NATIONAL: Australian Government’s mental health reform package
The Government are investing in mental health reform, with $696.2 million being made available over 5 years from 2011 specifically for the support of young people. 
The funding includes:
- $197.3 million to Headspace, the national youth mental health foundation, in order to expand their services. The funding will enable Headspace to bring the total number of their centres up to 90, including 35 centres in rural and remote areas.  Headspace provides health support and counselling to young people throughout Australia. 15 new Headspace centres opened between January and June 2013, bringing the current total of operational centres up to 55. Another 15 centres are ready to open in 2014 and 15 new centre locations were announced on 28 June 2013.  This extension of Headspace provides greater support to young people at risk of mental illness and suicide across Australia. 
- $18.7 million to the Headspace School Support program, which was officially launched in October 2012.  Under this program, Headspace provides support and guidance to secondary schools that have been affected by suicide or are concerned that their students may be at risk of suicide. In addition, Headspace School Support delivers advice over the phone and internet and supplies schools with information and factsheets online. 
- $247 million over six years to allow Headspace to deliver early psychosis youth services enabling young Australians who have complex mental illnesses to receive expert care.  The first early psychosis prevention and intervention centre opened in Melbourne in July 2013. 
- $61 million over five years for an additional 40 Family Mental Health Support Services (FMHSS), as part of the Targeted Community Care (Mental Health) Program.  The FMHSS provides support to children and young people up to the age of 18 at risk of, or affected by mental illness, and their families.
- $33.9 million for Access to Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS) to provide support for children with mental and developmental problems. The Australian Psychological society is providing training ATAPS child mental health professionals. 
- $11 million to expand the Medicare Healthy Kids check to include considerations of emotional wellbeing and development. 
- $27.9 million over five years to KidsMatter Primary, under the Taking Action to Tackle Suicide Plan, to expand their services to an additional 1700 schools. This plan is currently on track, with 1000 schools participating as at March 2013.  KidsMatter provides information and support about children’s health to families with young children, primary schools and early education centres. An independent evaluation carried out by Flinders University, released in July 2012, suggests that KidsMatter has had a positive effect on children’s mental development and well-being, with improvements to the provision of care and education services. 
NATIONAL: The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy
The suicide rate of Indigenous children in Australia remains worryingly high, especially when compared to the rest of the population. Reports have suggested that the suicide rate amongst young Aboriginals is the world’s highest, and this needs to be urgently addressed. 
In May 2013, the Australian Government Department for Health and Aging released the first National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Prevention Strategy.  This strategy will be supported by $17.8 million funding over four years. 
In addition, the Australian Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has called for research into suicide prevention in Indigenous youth. The NHMRC will provide $5 million funding for research into effective interventions and the risks associated with suicidal behaviour. The applications for funding opened on 26 June 2013 and closed on 23 October 2013. 
NATIONAL: Child involvement in the development of mental health initiatives
The Committee in their Concluding Observations recommended that, in planning and implementing measures targeting youth mental health, Australia should consult with children and young people. The Australian Government has stated that it supports this engagement with young people and has measures in place to ensure that young people participate in the development and evaluation of mental health programs and initiatives.  Young people have participated or are able to participate under the following programs:
- Headspace Youth National Reference Group: The headspace Youth National Reference Group (hYNRG) is made up of a variety of young people of different ages, genders and from diverse backgrounds. The hYNRG reports to the Headspace national office on different topics and works on local and national projects. 
- Australian Youth Forum: The Australian Youth Forum provides information on policy and law reform to young people. It further provides a platform for communication, asking young people to express their opinions on issues concerning them. Increasing awareness of this website may be required to facilitate its effectiveness. Few young people are participating in the discussion topics, with no ideas being put forward in the latest three topics. 
- The National Mental Health Commission engaged Batyr Australia Limited and Young and Well Co-operative Research Centre (Young and Well CRC) to involve young people in the development of their inaugural report card on mental health and suicide prevention. Data was obtained through an online survey targeted at young people and advertised on social media, as well as through three focus groups involving young aboriginal people, university students and young people from rural and remote areas. 
NATIONAL: Funding for a National Centre for Excellence in Youth Mental Health
In October 2013, the Federal Government announced $18 million worth of funding to establish a National Centre for Excellence in Youth Mental Health.  The National Centre which will be set up by the Orygen Youth Health Research Centre in Victoria, will conduct clinical trials of treatments for young people as well as train and provide career support for up to 12 000 mental health workers. 
VIC: Grants for community mental health groups supporting young people
On 6 November 2013, the Victorian Government announced the third round of grants for ten community groups.  This third round of Healthy Equal Youth (HEY) grants will total $187 000, with applications for the next round of HEY funding, totalling $291 000, to be opened on 28 January 2014.  The HEY grants which are administered by the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria on behalf of the state government, are dedicated to supporting initiatives that address the stigma faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (GLBTI) young people. Initiatives include social support groups, campaigns, youth mentoring, and peer education, with the targeted young people actively involved in the design of these initiatives. 
Areas lacking progress
NATIONAL: Training those working with children
The Committee in its Concluding Observations recommended that the Australian Government allocate specific resources for as the training and development of those working with children. It is essential that those who work with children are able to identify the signs and risk factors associated with mental illness. The role of people working with children in identifying and preventing mental health and suicide in young people is enormous, especially as many young people with a mental illness will not seek professional help themselves. 
The government has provided funding to initiatives, such as headspace, MindMatters and KidsMatter, which provide mental health support to schools. The Government also supports the recommendation on mandatory training for teachers in recognising and assessing suicidal risk.  Nevertheless, the government’s Response Ability Teacher Education Program fails to provide solid details on specific training. Funding provided for the Program sees evidence-based resources supplied, however, it has been reported that teaching and learning this material is hard  and ,as such, acts as a barrier to this vital education.  This difficulty is also a barrier to ensuring the mandatory inclusion of the minimum content in the training of pre-service teachers.  The government has also shown a commitment to increasing the quality of teacher training in schools.  Nevertheless, teachers and others who work with children are not provided with specific training on mental health.
NATIONAL: Accessibility of help
The Committee in its Concluding Observations recommended that Australia ensure that mental health services are accessible to all children who require them. There remain concerns over the low number of school psychologists, with some areas having only one psychologist per 3000 students, preventing children from receiving the mental support they need. 
NATIONAL: Young men and mental health
Research by Young and Well CRC reveals that suicide is one of the main killers of young men, with 20% of men aged 16-25 thinking that their life is ‘hardly worth living.’  The Report identifies affordability and accessibility and a reluctance to seek help due to an emphasis on masculinity and being ‘a man’  as challenges to young men seeking help.  A young men’s advisory committee has been established to provide support and advice to the Young and Well CRC. 
Young and Well CRC has prioritised young men’s health as a matter of urgency, particularly in the provision of services that are relevant and meet young men’s needs,  and has established a Young Men’s Advisory Committee, which provides support and advice to Young and Well CRC. 
NATIONAL: Online resources
Research by Inspire Foundation suggests that most young people will go online to find help instead of seeking help from a mental health professional.  Separate research conducted by the Young and Well CRC also reached the same conclusion; with 43% of those surveyed agreeing that the use of the internet to find out about mental health problems as acceptable.  Of concern was the Young and Well CRC’s finding that despite ‘moderate’ to ‘ very high’ levels of psychological distress, the use of online or emailing counselling was low. 
Using the internet and technology to promote mental health and provide support for young people who need it is effective, accessible by those in rural and remote areas and is relatively low cost. 
Australia has a number of online support programs aimed at children and young people, including Inspire Foundation’s Reachout.com, eheadspace and mobile applications such as Adelaide’s ‘Talklife’. It is important that children and young people with mental health problems are able to continue and are encouraged to access help and support online and that they are made aware of the help that is available.
In October 2013, the Federal Government announced funding of $5 million over three years for the development of a comprehensive e-mental health platform.  The Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre will set up the platform which will enable easier and 24-hour access for young people to advice and support.
NATIONAL: Youth mental health in detention centres/the juvenile justice system
Mental health in juvenile justice centres remains a problem, with a disproportionately high occurrence of mental illness in children and young people in detention. In a report by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), it was revealed that 87% of young people in NSW detention centres have mental health problems.  Similarly, an inquiry undertaken by the Commissioner for Children and Young Western Australia (CCYWA) revealed that up to 50% of children and young people in detention in Western Australia have mental health problems.  The AHRC report identifies the need for early intervention services in steering children and young people with mental illnesses away from the criminal justice system.  The need for dedicated psychological services was also valued in the CCYWA’s Inquiry, which found that young people valued assistance from the psychologists employed by the centre,  and is reinforced by a body of research that acknowledges the decreased rates of recidivism when mental health problems are responded to.
As health care in custodial settings is not standardised across the country, there is no national document that outlines policies and procedures to be administered by state and territory juvenile justice centres.  Currently, New South Wales has a Community Integration Team which employs clinicians to work with young people in custody who have a serious mental illness or an emerging mental illness.  There is also a Justice Health Adolescent Court and Community Team who is able to refer a young person for a mental health assessment as well as report to the court on possible options best suited in dealing with the young person.  The two juvenile detention centres in Queensland also work permanently with state Hospital and Health Services in the provision of mental health and nursing support.  The mental health services at Western Australia’s only juvenile justice centre, Banksia Hill Detention Centre, have been described as “negligible.”  A dedicated forensic mental health unit for children and young people is yet to be established despite it being recommended in 2011.  The Inspector of Custodial Services also recommended the provision of a wider range of options for specific problems such as mental health.  On the other hand, Victoria’s Adolescent Forensic Health Service provides mental health care through specialist forensic assessment and clinical counselling services to juveniles on community based orders, those serving custodial sentences, and those on parole.  The Child Adolescent Mental Health Service in South Australia works with young Aboriginal people who have mental health problems and are involved, or at risk of becoming involved in the juvenile justice system as part of the Aboriginal Youth Mental Health Partnership Project.  A similar initiative, Indigenous Throughcare Project, is conducted in the Northern Territory by the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency. The two prison-based Throughcare workers provide specialist support, inter alia, to those with mental health issues at the Don Dale Juvenile Detention Centre.  The only juvenile detention centre in Tasmania, Ashley Youth Detention Centre, also has two mental health practitioners who visit regularly to provide forensic assessments and services. 
NATIONAL: Prescription of psycho-stimulants
The Committee, it its Concluding Observations, recommended the careful monitoring of the prescription of psycho-stimulants and the adoption of measures to provide children diagnosed with ADHD and ADD with access to a wider range of psychological, educational and social treatments. The Committee further recommended that Australia consider undertaking the collection and analysis of data in order to monitor the possible abuse of psycho-stimulant drugs by children.
There has been some confusion and controversy concerning the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD and ADD following a conflict of interest investigation which prevented the NHMRC from endorsing the Draft Australian Guidelines on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder 2009.  The NHMRC has since released Clinical Practice Points, which aim to provide clarity on the use of stimulants to treat ADHD.  These guidelines recommend a child-based approach and identify that medication may not necessarily be appropriate in all cases; however it also recognises that psychological treatments may not be locally available for children living in rural areas. The guidelines also identify that if psychological treatment is not appropriate or effective for children under 7 years, that it may be necessary to treat them with psycho-stimulants.
Western Australia and New South Wales are the only states that have a stimulant prescription notification system, which monitors stimulant prescription for ADHD and any possible abuse of psycho-stimulant drugs by children. It is therefore difficult to monitor stimulant use and abuse nationally.
NATIONAL: More investment required for early childhood mental health
Whilst Australia invests $190 billion in mental health annually,  the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) and the Australian Association for Infant Mental Health (AAIMH) have called on the Federal Government to reconsider the way infant mental health is funded, saying that half of adult mental health problems could be avoided by beginning treatment during childhood, particularly if the focus is turned to babies and toddlers.  Dr Lance Emerson, ARACY, urged parents to start “very early on, even starting before birth”.  The national president of the AAIMH, Anna Huber, also reinforced the importance of childcare workers, teachers and health professionals being “pick up the signs” and advise parents on the services available. 
WA: Lack of beds for mental health patients
A new children’s hospital in Perth is scheduled to open in 2015, however there are fears that it may only deliver an additional six beds for young Western Australian mental health patients.  Currently, there are only twenty beds in total for children suffering mental illness. However, Aaron Groves, chairman of the WA branch of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, has cast doubt as to whether the “additional beds will be sufficient to cover the waiting list for child and adolescent mental health beds”.  The Western Australian Commissioner for Children and Young People, Ms Michelle Scott, has also voiced her concern on the issue – “We must ask whether waiting lists for paediatric psychiatric treatment in hospital that are already stretched will become dangerously elongated as population growth further increases demand”. 
QLD: Closure of the state’s only residential youth mental health facility
In August 2013, the Queensland State Government confirmed plans to close the state’s only dedicated residential youth mental health facility, Barrett Adolescent Centre located in Wacol, western Brisbane.  The decision to close the facility has been described by Bundamba MP, Jo-Ann Miller, as a “betrayal of the state’s most vulnerable young people”.  The centre is due to close in January 2014,  with the patients to be transitioned to a new care model.  As at December 2013, the specific details and location of the new service options were yet to be finalised.  The Barrett Special School which is attached to the facility will be temporarily relocated to Yeronga State High School in early 2014. 
WA: New law to allow teenagers to consent to electric shock treatment
On 23 October 2013, the Western Australian Government introduced the Mental Health Bill 2013 (WA) which includes a section that permits teenagers above the age of 14 and who have the capacity, to consent to electro-convulsive therapy (ECT).  Once the patient consents to ECT, the controlled seizure-inducing technique can be performed without their parents’ permission. Whilst the government says that the laws provide children with a say in the treatment they receive, Dr Judy Hyde, president of the Australian Clinical Psychology Association said “It’s quite a serious thing to be thinking about and should only be done in the most exceptional circumstances”.  The Western Australian Commissioner for Children and Young People, Michelle Scott, has also condemned the laws, saying that the treatment should be prohibited on all children and young people, or at least for the age of consent to be raised to 16.