Minister approves report requiring all Australian universities to have a mental health strategy

Earlier this month, the Minister for Education and Training, Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, released the Higher Education Standards Panel’s final report, ‘Improving retention, completion and success in higher education’.

Minister Birmingham agreed to all of the Panel’s 18 recommendations. Significantly, Recommendation 8 is: “Every institution should have an institution-wide mental health strategy and implementation plan.” See pp. 28-30 of the report for a discussion of this recommendation, which quotes from ‘The Wicked Problem of University Student Mental Health’.

This is an excellent achievement by a number of lobbyists, and will be a very welcome development for the approximately 1.5 million students and staff of Australia’s universities. The next challenge is to support institutions to develop a thoughtful and comprehensive response to the requirement, and hold them accountable to implementing it.

Next month, I am speaking at the second Australasian Mental Health and Higher Education Conference at James Cook University in Townsville, and will also be delivering an advocacy skills workshop aimed at students seeking to improve their institution’s mental health supports. Referencing the Minister’s acceptance of this recommendation in their advocacy will be one of my suggestions.