World Federation for Mental Health
World Federation for Mental Health

Member Spotlight

Historical Overview

The Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia (MIFA) is a leading Australian national mental health organisation with state and territory member organisations dedicated to improving outcomes for people with mental illness and psychiatric disability and their carers. The Fellowship was formed from state based organisations that had been started by families and people with mental illness desperate for community based services following deinstituionalisation.

The state-based organisations gained from sharing their learning in service needs and operations and recognised the need to form a national organisation to strengthen their voice at the national level. The national body commenced in the mid 1980s – now called MIFA.

Current Structure

There are nine member organisations which cover each state and territory; representing between 10-15,000 members, mainly those directly affected by mental illness as consumers and families and carers. MIFA has the largest membership base of any national, non-government mental health organisation. Member organisations now employ over 300 staff and engage hundreds more volunteers. On an annual basis services are provided to over 50,000 people throughout Australia.

MIFA contributes by:

  • influencing national mental health policy;
  • representation on multiple agencies;
  • establishing, piloting and evaluating innovative national programs in housing, employment, education, rehabilitation and other critical domains;
  • raising awareness and increasing mental health literacy;
  • advocating for expansion of services to people affected by mental illness;
  • promoting optimal lifestyles with support based on need for housing, employment, education and other domains critical to a quality of life.

Member organisations deliver a diverse range of programs and services for people with severe mental illnesses, their carers and the community. Services provided by member organisations vary in each location including:

  • Information and referral
  • Telephone help line & web-based information
  • Education for consumers, carers and the community; including peer delivered programs
  • Individual and system advocacy
  • Vocational programs
  • Day Activity Programs aimed at reconnecting people into communities & increasing personal skill development
  • Schizophrenia Awareness Week in which all States and Territories participate;
  • Rural and remote programs
  • Community awareness programs in all States and Territories;
  • Professional education programs in all States and Territories;
  • Respite services – with diverse programs for people with a mental illness and their carers
  • Accommodation support & Residential services
  • Newsletter informing members with diary of local events
  • Mental Health Specialist Job Network provider;

One of our key initiatives for 2007 was a national survey of people affected by mental illness, asking our members to describe their key federal issues. Results from over 2,200 participants have been compiled and forwarded to all federal politicians with the top 5 issues being the need for improved: housing, employment, education [for carers & consumers], research and social security.

To learn more about the Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia, Inc – please visit there website at:

Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia
PO Box 844, Marleston
South Australia 5033
Ph (08) 8221 5072
Fax (08) 8221 5159




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