Welcome to our last update for 2017 of which has been a highly productive year for the Commission.
I encourage you to read our newly released 2017 National Report on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention which details what we heard and what we did this year.
Some of the key outcomes of our work in 2017 include:
- We collaborated with mental health experts with a lived experience of mental illness and/or suicidality to co-design a new Consumer and Carer Engagement Project.
- We commenced the consultation process for a Monitoring and Reporting Framework on mental health and suicide prevention, seeking nation-wide input from those with lived experienced, carers and health workers.
- July saw the launch of Equally Well, which aims to improve the quality of life of people living with mental illness by providing equal access to quality health care.
- Housing, Homelessness and Mental Health workshops were held across Australia to gather stakeholder feedback on key issues for people with a mental illness when they attempt to secure housing.
- We released our final report on the Review of the services available to veterans and members of the Australian Defence Force in relation to the prevention of self-harm and suicide.
- We welcomed our new responsibility given to us by the Council of Australian Governments Health Council to monitor and report on the implementation of the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan.
- And in August, the Minister for Health, The Hon Greg Hunt MP announced Lucy Brogden as our incoming Chair, to officially commence the role in February 2018, as well as other new Commissioners.
All of our achievements are only possible because of the efforts of organisations, individuals, consumers and carers in the mental health system who have shared with us their insights and experiences.
All Commissioners and staff wish to sincerely thank those who supported and engaged with the Commission throughout 2017 – we are extremely grateful for your input.
We wish you all a peaceful and safe Christmas and New Year.
Professor Allan Fels AO
Dr Peggy Brown
Chief Executive Officer and Commissioner
National Mental Health Commission
Vale Jackie Crowe
With deep sadness we mourned the loss of Commissioner Jackie Crowe who died unexpectedly in October at the age of 49. Jackie was part of the Commission since its establishment in 2012, and was a passionate and tenacious voice for those with lived experience of mental health, and mental health reform as a whole. She was an esteemed champion of the Commission’s work and her vibrancy, drive, intelligence and kindness will be greatly missed by all who knew her.
In October, the Commission visited Broome. Our Commissioners met with consumers, carers, community members, service providers and government agencies and participated in discussions on mental health and suicide prevention in rural and remote Western Australia.
Commissioners attended the Rural and Remote Mental Health Conference, along with more than 300 delegates from across Western Australia from clinical and community services, public and private services, non-government organisations, WA Country Health Service and the Department of Health. The Conference provided a welcome opportunity to engage with individuals and hear about their experiences, work and commitment to improve mental health outcomes in Western Australia, and particularly in rural and remote communities as well as the need to prioritise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health not only within the Kimberley, but throughout all aspects of the Commission’s work.
The Commissioners also had the opportunity to meet with The Hon Alanna Therese Clohesy, MLC Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Premier, Minister for Health and Mental Health, The Hon Alison Xamon MLC and the Board and Executive staff from the WA Country Health Service. Commissioners were briefed on the challenges in service delivery in rural and remote areas of Western Australia and initiatives to enhance services for the community.
2017 Australian Mental Health Prize
In November, Allan had the honour of being co-awarded, along with Ms Janet Meagher, the 2017 Australian Mental Health Prize.
Janet has lived with schizophrenia for almost 50 years. In that time she has been a passionate voice for those living with mental illness, and is one of Australia’s brightest advocates for improving mental health care and awareness.
We congratulate all nominees, Professor Adam Scott, Professor Gavin Andrews, Ms Pam Brown and Mr Patrick Hardwick on their outstanding achievements and commend their ongoing commitment to improving the lives of Australians living with mental illness and their carers.
The Australian Mental Health Prize is in its second year and was established in 2016 by UNSW’s School of Psychiatry.
Over the past year the Commission has collaborated with a lived experience Steering Group to better understand consumer and carer engagement policies and practices across Australia’s mental health and suicide prevention systems. More than 1,000 people joined in the conversation Engage and Participate in Mental Health through online surveys, webinars, interviews, yarn ups and community conversations. The Commission is now considering the findings, implications and next steps.
We would like to thank everyone who provided us with their ideas and insights and especially thank people with lived experience of mental ill-health, their families and support people.