December 2020

Last week in Australia was NAIDOC Week. NAIDOC Week is held around Australia to celebrate the history, achievements and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Mental Health First Aid Australia’s main office in Parkville, Victoria is on the lands of Wurundjeri people. We acknowledge and respect that we work on the lands of the Wurundjeri people who are the Traditional Custodians of this land and have been for thousands of years. We acknowledge and pay our respects to Elders past, present and future.

10% of Mental Health First Aid Instructors identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders, and as an organisation we are proud to have a dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Program Team that that are leading the development and delivery of a suite of culturally adapted core and specialised AMHFA courses. 

Our AMHFA courses importantly include the voices and input of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples throughout and the artworks of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with lived experience. AMHFA courses are delivered nationally by our accredited Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Instructors to workplaces, communities and schools.

The inclusion of either a ‘Welcome to Country’ for an ‘Acknowledgement of Country’ by all of our accredited Instructors as part of the delivery of our courses is an important and visible statement that reaffirms our organisational values, acknowledgement and commitment to the recognition and advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples nationally.

Welcome To Country &
Acknowledgement of Country

The recognition of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Island traditional custodianship of land is recommended at the commencement of every MHFA Course delivery. There are two kinds of recognition of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Island country; a ‘Welcome to Country’ and an ‘Acknowledgement of Country’ which are described below.

There is an update to the suggested text supplied below which you will see in all newly released courses, but you may choose to use this instead of the previous wording for all existing MHFA courses.

Welcome To Country

A ‘Welcome to Country’ can be conducted only by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island traditional custodian of the land on which the course is taking place. For instance, a ‘Welcome to Country’ in the Adelaide area can be conducted only by a person of Kaurna heritage.

The form of a ‘Welcome to Country’ is to be negotiated between the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island representatives and the course organisers, and may include a speech, cultural ceremony or performance involving song, dance, traditional musical instruments, or a smoking or cleansing ceremony.

“I/We acknowledge and respect the traditional custodians whose ancestral land we are meeting on here today. We acknowledge the deep feelings of attachment and relationship of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Island people to country. We pay our respects to Traditional custodians, Elders, emerging leaders and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.” 

Acknowledgement of Country

An ‘Acknowledgement of Country’ can be conducted by any person in recognition of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island country. You are encouraged as the course Instructor to read out the ‘Acknowledgement’ in addition to printing it on agendas.

The wording may be personalised or localised to make the ‘Acknowledgement’ more meaningful, for example by direct naming and acknowledgement of the traditional owners where this is specifically known.

If the traditional custodianship of a location is not known or is in dispute and/or you require information about the traditional custodians and names, please contact a Local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island Land Council. Speaking to local Elders and Community Leaders is also encouraged.

To access an Indigenous Australia click below. 

MHFA Curriculum &
Course Development

MHFA Course Materials Update

Release of 2019 Suicide Statistics

We are very pleased to announce that the new PowerPoints and associated Teaching Notes for all core, refresher and specialised courses are now available to download via the Instructor resources section of our website.

The updates incorporate the 2019 Australian Bureau of Statistics Causes of Death, Australia and the recent National Drug Household Survey 2019. 

New materials can be found in the instructor resources section of the MHFA website.

View overview of data

The new ABS data reports an increase in suicide deaths from 3,138 in 2018 (age-standardised suicide rate 12.4 per 100,000) to 3,318 (12.9 per 100,000) in 2019, with 2,502 males (19.8 per 100,000) and 816 females (6.3 per 100,000).

The ratio of male rates being three times greater than female has been consistent for the last decade.  The highest rate for males in 2019 was observed in those aged 85 years and older (32.3 deaths per 100,000 males) while males aged 45-49 were close second (32.2 deaths per 100,000 males).

The highest rate for females was recorded for those aged 40-44 (9.2 deaths per 100,000 males).

Blended Online MHFA course for Financial Services Professionals

This new course is suitable for all Instructors with SMHFA to offer to professionals working with individuals in a wide range of insolvency, accounting, financial counselling support services.

The Up-skill for this course will be free for eligible Instructors for a 30-day period from the date of release. The Up-Skill involves completing the eLearning and watching the webcast and completing the associated quiz. Introductory pricing will apply for this course with eLearning vouchers for this course will be initially available at the 2020 subsidised price of $50 + GST including the provision of a hard copy Standard manual up to 31st December 2020. From 1 January 2021, eLearning vouchers for this course will be continue to be partially subsidised until further notice. The eLearning price applicable from 1 January 2021 will be $80+GST including the provision of a hard copy manual.

Instructors accredited to deliver this new Blended Online MHFA Course will be able to set their own course delivery fee for component 2 of this course from the release date.

Instructor Continuing
Professional Development


New webcasts for CPD

We are pleased to announce the addition of new webcasts to our suite of CPD webcasts.
Instructors need to complete a short quiz post viewing and each webcast viewed adds 0.5 points to you CPD requirements.

Changing attitudes: The impact of involving Experts by Experience - Professor Brenda Happel

Cannabis and Mental Health: Mulling over the evidence - Professor Jan Copeland

November Instructor Communities
of Practice Sessions

We are looking forward to seeing you all at the final three sessions for 2020. No need to RSVP, just click the link to join.
Save the dates into your diary now.

Click on the zoom link below  – all sessions use the same link. 

Why the Language we use in delivering MHFA courses matters

Instructor Development Advisors: Matt Gray, Peta Dampney

A conversation about language in MHFA delivery: What’s important, what has changed and why it matters.

17th November:  4.00-4.45 pm AEDT

Taking care of business: Looking after yourself as a sole trader MHFA Instructor

Matt Gray, Peta Dampney 

Join us for a facilitated discussion of strategies for your MHFA training practice.  A chance to share tools, tips and tricks to create a successful and sustainable MHFA training practice.

1st December:  4.00-4.45 pm AEDT

End of Year Networking Event – Reflection on 2020 and Break-up Celebrations 🎉

Peta Dampney, Matt Gray & Kathryn Elkins – Masters of Ceremony

We invite Instructors to join us online for an opportunity to celebrate the gains and challenges of 2020 and to look forward to the new year.
Drop in to say hello and happy holidays to the IDAs and fellow Instructors.

15th December:  4.00-6.00 pm AEDT

We welcome ideas for 2021 session topics – please send us your suggestions using the button below.

New Resources for Instructors 

There have been some new resources developed which may be of interest to Instructors which are detailed below. Please follow the links for each resource for more information.

Causes of Death, Australia, (ABS)

As mentioned above the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released the latest suicide statistics for 2019 which find some small differences from the 2018 data.

One interesting addition in this issue is the reporting on Years of Potential Life Lost (YPLL) which is a measure of premature mortality. This approach measures the person’s age at death against life expectancy to gain an estimate of how many years a person would have lived had they not died prematurely.

The 2019 data find suicide accounted for the highest number of YPLL (115,221) of all conditions due to the particularly low median age at death (43.9 years).

Click below to further explore the recent data.

Current Grant Opportunities

If there is a grant opportunity that you would like to discuss with MHFA Australia, please contact the Community Engagement Team at

Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Community Led Proposals - CURRENTLY OPEN

The Community-Led process enables Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, communities and service providers to, at any time, apply for IAS grant funding for projects that address an emerging need or opportunity.

Strengthening Rural Communities Funding - CURRENTLY OPEN

The Strengthening Rural Communities (SRC) program aims to give the thousands of small rural, regional and remote communities across Australia an opportunity to access funding to support broad community needs.

Grants are available for a broad range of grassroots, community-led initiatives that directly and clearly benefit local communities, including bushfire recovery projects.  Rolling grants program.

COVID-19 Aboriginal Community Response & Recovery Fund - EOIs CLOSING 30 NOVEMBER

The COVID-19 Aboriginal Community Response and Recovery Fund has been established by the Victorian Government to support Aboriginal Victorians to deliver community-led initiatives to respond to the impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19) within their local area or community. 

The Fund will provide grants to Aboriginal organisations and community members for initiatives that support emergency relief, outreach and brokerage, cultural strengthening, and social and emotional wellbeing.

Youth InterACT Scholarships - CURRENTLY OPEN

The Youth InterACT Scholarships are available to support young people to stay engaged and connected, they provide funding of up to $500 for young people and $1500 for groups, to participate in an activity, event or program.

This may include online mental health, self-improvement programs or skills-based learning courses and training that enhance personal or career development.

 (Youth Instructors may choose to alert their participants to possible funding)  

Instructor Training Dates


Training for existing Instructors

We are pleased to announce the addition of new webcasts to our suite of CPD webcasts.
Instructors need to complete a short quiz post viewing and each webcast viewed adds 0.5 points to you CPD requirements.

Older Person MHFA - (5-Day course)

🗓️  When: 7 December

📌  Where: Melbourne

Teen MHFA (2-Day course for existing Instructors)

🗓️  When: 16/17 December

📌  Where: Melbourne

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (5 Day course)

🗓️  When: 7 December

📌  Where: Brisbane QLD

Instructor Milestone Recognition


This month we congratulate the following Instructors on achieving Master Instructor status after
completing 30 courses and also those Instructors who have now run 100 and 200 courses. 

We thank you for your hard work and passion. 


Master Instructors

Marisca Seinen

Ineke Knight

Nicola Grayson

Renee Reid

Caroline Jones

Jason Perry

Robyn Rottinger

MHFA Centenarians

Ann Jewitt

Caron Cahill

Rae-Anne Holloway

MHFA Double Centenarian

Greg Seberry

Meet the MHFA
Marketing & Communications Team

The MHFA Marketing and Communications department manages all communications between MHFA Australia and our varied stakeholders as well as all online and offline marketing activities. They are also responsible for the design and management of all MHFA online and printed collateral and the MHFA website. 

Toby Davis

I joined MHFA Australia as Marketing Manager in January 2018 having relocated to Melbourne from the UK with my family. Much of my time outside of work is taken up by my role as father and referee to our twin boys. 👦🏼 👦🏼

Brendan O'Keefe

Online Engagement Coordinator

I’ve been with MHFA for 7 years in a couple of roles. I now look after all MHFA Australia’s social media channels and develop content, deliver on marketing strategies, and engage with the public, our instructors, MHFAiders, and partners.

Belinda Hood

I’ve been part of our organisation for several years and juggled many hats over this time. I have a background in marketing and a degree in design and now work part-time with two mischievous toddlers keeping me busy. 

Spencer Lai

I began working with Mental Health First Aid in September 2016. While maintaining a career as a professional artist, I am interested in mental health, psychology and LGBTIQA+ rights. 

Have a story to share? 

Throughout 2021 and beyond MHFA Australia will be starting to share the stories around Mental Health First Aid. This will include stories from the individuals who have gone through our training, the workplaces who are implementing MHFA Training to build mentally healthy workplaces, and you, our MHFA Instructors who are helping to grow this movement everyday.

We will be looking for Instructors to share their in a number of different ways including articles, videos and audio recordings. Look out for further information coming soon. If you are interested in sharing your story, send us an email to let us know. 

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