eNews edition 107

22 July 2020

Dear Tandem members and supporters,

Thank you to the family and friends who participated in Mental Health Victoria and Victorian Healthcare Association Mental Health Sector Forum on Lived Experience yesterday alongside our CEO Marie Piu and Tandem member Andrew Tomlinson. The event was a great success and key stakeholders heard Tandem's vision for a mental health system that is safe, inclusive, fair and funded. If you'd like to catch up on the event there are a few ways:

In this edition:

  • Tandem joint report on LGBTQA+ mental health carers
  • Tandem Live Guided meditations Thursdays 12pm
  • Victoria Police during COVID-19
  • COVID-19 news from the Victorian government
  • COVID-19 news from the Australian government
  • Campaign to eliminate Seclusion and Restraint
  • Free online Trauma Skills Summit
  • Free online suicide alertness training for parents
  • Free CBT for teenagers during COVID-19
  • Podcast: Embracing Anxiety
  • Tandem C.R.A.F.T. Challenge
  • Tandem Support & Referral Line
  • Other COVID-19 supports
  • Join the Tandem family
Rainbow and Trans flag

Tandem joint report on LGBTQA+ mental health carers

Tandem recently partnered with Drummond Street Services and Queerspace to support a focus group consultation and submission of a report to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System on the needs and experiences of LGBTIQ+ people in care relationships.
The report, ‘LGBTQA+ Communities and Mental Health Caring Relationships’, includes 13 key recommendations for the Royal Commission to consider. Read the join report. 
Tandem looks forward to further opportunities in the near future to collaborate with both Drummond street services and queerspace.
Bec, our Tandem Team member, smiling

Tandem live guided meditations every Thursday 

Join Bec, our Tandem team member, for a live guided meditation every Thursday at 12pm on Tandem’s Facebook page.

These meditations will be an opportunity for you to take some time out in your day, to stop and reconnect. To feel grounded and supported. It is so important during these times that we continue to look after our wellbeing and meditation can be a helpful tool.

No meditation experience required. Just head to our Facebook page, like our page and register for the event. You will be able to see Bec live via the Tandem Facebook page at midday on Thursdays.
Thursdays at 12pm on Facebook

Corrected link: COVID-19 feedback for Victoria Police

Tandem is pleased to be a member of the Victoria Police Mental Health Portfolio Reference Group.  At a recent meeting attended by Tandem CEO Marie Piu, the chair of this group, Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius indicated he would be interested in gathering feedback from family, friends and carers in mental health on their experiences with Police members during the COVID -19 pandemic so far. He indicated that Victoria police is committed to learning and continuously improving the way in which they work and communicate particularly in times that can be very distressing  and challenging to all involved. 

We would appreciate you taking the time to provide us with your valuable feedback so we can continue working with Victoria Police to ensure we have a safe, inclusive and fair response to all Victorians. 

We apologise for any inconvenience that some people experienced while attempting to complete the survey, the link has been corrected in this email and in our eNews archive on our website. If you already successfully completed the survey your response has been recorded, thank you. 
Share your Victoria Police experience during COVID-19
Victorian State Government logo

Support to stay home while waiting for test results

The Victorian Government has announced a $300 payment for people without access to sick leave, to help support while they are isolating and waiting for COVID-19 test results. The $300 payment is available for casual workers, contract workers and workers who have run out of sick leave, and are waiting for test results.

This is in addition to the $1500 payment available to eligible workers who are required to quarantine following a positive test, or because they are a confirmed close contact of a positive case.  

DHHS feedback on telehealth and phone Mental Health Tribunals

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) are interested in hearing from you if during the past four months of COVID-19 restrictions you have had
  • Phone or video (e.g. Skype) appointments with a mental health service and/or
  • Mental Health Tribunal hearings by phone.
For this survey DHHS won't need your name and won't ask questions about your health, they are interested in your opinions, experiences and ideas. For most questions all you need to do is tick a box. Their survey is open until 12 August 2020 and should take and about 10 minutes to complete.

If you have had the relevant experience mentioned above and you would be interested in taking part in the survey or an online focus group in the coming weeks then please contact Bec from Tandem via email to express your interest at mhcregister@tandemcarers.org.au.

Translated videos on mask-wearing

View translated DHHS videos on mask wearing here

The Wyndham Community Education Centre has also developed videos around the mask wearing requirements in a range of key languages for their local community:

Translated COVID-19 fact sheets and support

View translated DHHS fact sheets on COVID-19 here

Beyond Blue has translated flyers for its Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service into over 60 different languages in an easy to access format. Flyers and more information on how to access the service is available on the Beyond Blue website.

Exceptions to mask wearing 

We understand that there may be valid medical reasons why the person/s you support may not feel able to wear a mask. If this is the case we have been advised that you support your family member or friend to discuss their concerns with their GP or the service they are connected with for mental health clinical or psychosocial community support.  If a mask cannot be worn these services will be able to provide a letter outlining the medical reasons they can show if asked by members of Victoria Police. It must be noted that it is likely that anyone going out in public after tomorrow without a mask will attract attention as everyone tries to play their part in controlling the spread of COVID19. Where it is impossible to wear a mask the advice is to avoid activities outside the home as much as possible.

Advice on visiting inpatient units

If you are a family member or friend of someone in an inpatient unit the advice we have is that a 1 hour visit per week is allowed. If you are a nominated person there is no limit to the number of times you can visit. All of this of course is dependent on no active cases of COVID-19 in the unit.

Visitors over 18 years, should be provided with a single use mask when entering the hospital if they do not have their own cloth mask. For those who cannot wear a mask, a face shield should be provided. Visitors should wear the mask or shield throughout the visit until they exit the hospital.

For more details please see the COVID-19 Fact Sheet for hospital visitors and checklist for hospital visitors that have been updated by DHHS. 
Australian Government logo

COVID-19 resources for people with a disability

The Commonwealth Department of Health has developed fact sheets for people with a disability, families, friends, carers and health professionals regarding supporting people with disability during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Commonwealth Department of Social Services has accessible information and resources for people with disability and carers on its website.

People with disability and their supporters can also call the Disability Information Helpline on 1800 643 787, Monday to Friday 8:00am to 8:00pm.

Registered nurses, would you like to work at an aged care facility?

As part of the Australian Government’s Surge Workforce Program, the Department of Health is looking to fill immediate gaps in residential aged care facilities who are experiencing a shortage of Registered Nurses. An urgent expression of interest from qualified staff who are available to work in aged facilities, including those with known COVID-19 outbreaks, is currently open.

Short term work will be of one to two weeks duration, and may also include coverage of one-off shifts on an ad hoc basis.

If you are interested and are prepared to work in an aged care facility with a COVID-19 outbreak, please submit your interest to AgedCareCOVIDWorkforce@health.gov.au.

Support services for older Australians during COVID-19

Senior Australians are at greater risk of more serious illness if they catch coronavirus, so it is important for people at greater risk to take extra steps to protect themselves. Older people should continue to maintain 1.5 metres distance from people they do not live with, practice good hygiene and wear masks if they are able to if they are outside of home. 

There are support services available for older Australians if they would like to continue to stay at home to protect themselves.
  • Telehealth appointments with their GP rather than face-to-face appointments.
  • Delivery of prescriptions through their local pharmacy.
  • The new Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line provides information, support and connection on 1800 171 866 Monday to Friday 8.30am to 6pm.
  • People over the age of 65 can access prepared meals or priority online and telephone grocery shopping. They can contact My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 from Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm and Saturday 10am to 2pm.
  • The Community Visitors Scheme is available for people feeling isolated and would benefit from friendship and companionship. Visit www.health.gov.au/cvs for more information.
  • The FriendLine is for anyone who needs to reconnect or just wants a chat on 1800 424 287. All conversations with FriendLine are casual and anonymous and friendly volunteers are ready to talk about anything and everything.
Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council (VMIAC) logo

Campaign to eliminate Seclusion and Restraint in mental health

The unnecessary and widespread use of restrictive practices such as seclusion in mental health treatment is an issue of major concern for VMIAC, and Tandem. VMIAC expressed their concerns publicly in their first Seclusion and Restraint report in April 2019 and they have now released their second Seclusion and Restraint report.

Seclusion is a traumatic experience and only serves to retraumatise the high proportion of people living with mental health challenges and emotional distress who come from a history of trauma. Mental health services are supposed to use seclusion only as a last resort, but VMIAC's report indicates that this is not the case. In fact, the average seclusion rate across Victoria has increased this year across all adult units.  This issue has also received media coverage today on the ABC.

Please sign VMIAC's petition demanding that Victoria eliminate seclusion and restraint practices within mental health services, and respond to damaging impacts for individuals, including human rights breaches, and physical and emotional harm.

You can also read VMIAC's report, and a summary of the report in their media release.
You can heal

Free online Trauma Skills Summit

Trauma touches all of our lives, especially as mental health family, friends and carers. Right now we’re collectively experiencing the effects of traumatic events with global impacts. The challenges of trauma are real—but there is hope. The Trauma Skills Summit is a free, online 10-day event 17th-27th August 2020 exploring how we can recover from trauma and reclaim our lives—for ourselves, our world, and generations to come. With the Trauma Skills Summit, psychotherapist Dr. Jeffrey Rutstein and 24 other global experts, invite you to explore trauma—what it is, how it impacts us, and how we can cultivate skills to grow from adversity. Register at the Trauma Skills Summit website

Orygen logo

Free online suicide alertness training for parents

Orygen is inviting parents of young people living in north-west Melbourne to take part in free online suicide alertness training. The training will improve parents' capacity to support young people at risk of suicide, by providing them with the skills to identify indicators of suicidal thoughts, ask about suicide, and make referrals to helpful resources. Take part at Orygen's website.

Swinburne University logo

Free CBT for teenagers during COVID-19 

Swinburne University Psychology Clinic have developed a new mental health program to help youth aged 13–18 years experiencing pandemic-related
anxiety and depression
. This support is free if you are referred during the months of July and August 2020 and involves:
  • Six sessions of online counselling through telehealth video conferencing.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) skills to manage anxiety and depression.
  • Access to a website that contains self-help materials which supplements therapy.
  • Optional parental involvement and feedback with the youth’s permission.
The therapy is delivered by intern psychologists at the Swinburne Psychology Clinic. Referrals and enquires can be made by contacting the Swinburne Psychology Clinic by telephone on (03) 9214 5528 or email psychprojects@swin.edu.au

For more details please view the flyers:
Link to the Live Happy Now podcast

Podcast: Embracing Anxiety

Anxiety is something that many of us are familiar with—particularly now. But have you considered embracing it? Karla McLaren shares with the Live Happy Now podcast what anxiety can do for us and how we can use it for a positive effect.
Four crochet squares on a table top

Tandem C.R.A.F.T Challenge

Team Tandem invite you to join us on a crochet adventure with the Crochet Remotely Along with Friends at Tandem (C.R.A.F.T.) Challenge!

To get involved simply start crocheting - we will unveil our Tandem quilt masterpiece when the restrictions have eased further as a sign of resilience! 

Squares should be roughly 12cm x12cm and suggested wool around 8ply. You will need coloured yarn and a crochet hook. For beginners learning to crochet and what hook size and yarn to buy watch this video.

Make sure to send us photos of your progress or tag us on social media:


Tandem Continues to Operate Remotely

Call us on our FREE Support and Referral Line 1800 314 325.
Should you need an interpreter, Tandem can assist you using Language Loop telephone translation service.

Due to the current circumstances we may not be able to respond to your call straight away. If you require individual advocacy with the mental health system, support with the NDIS or the Royal Commission into Victoria’s mental health system or you just want to touch base, please leave a message with your name and number and how we can support you, and we will arrange for the appropriate person to call you back. Alternatively you can send us an email at info@tandemcarers.org.au with your details.

We also have online resources on:
COVID-19 support for Family & Friends
Wellbeing activities at home
Government information on COVID-19
Discussion forum for family and friends
Discussion forum for people living with mental health issues 

If you need urgent support please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the National Mental Health Carer Helpline on 1300 554 660.

Other COVID-19 supports

Join the Tandem family for free

Your story is powerful, join Tandem's community of family and friends to advocate for a safe, inclusive, fair and funded mental health system in Victoria. 
Tandem Inc. acknowledges the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the traditional owners of the lands and waters of Australia. Tandem is committed to working in partnership to support the principles of self-determination and ensure the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health carers are heard and considered.
Disclaimer. Tandem endeavours to provide a broad range of mental health carer-related information and other opportunities in this publication. This does not imply endorsement, recommendation or a direct reflection of Tandem's values and aims. Tandem attempts to ensure that information published is up-to-date and correct at publication.
Copyright © 2020 Tandem Inc., All rights reserved.

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Tandem Inc. · 1/37 Mollison Street · Abbotsford, Victoria 3067 · Australia

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