New Commission Chair and Commissioners announced

The National Mental Health Commission welcomes the announcement by The Hon. Greg Hunt, Minister for Health and Ageing, of the Commission’s next Advisory Board Chair following the retirement of Mrs Lucy Brogden AM as Chair in July. The new Chair will be current Commissioner, Professor Ngiare Brown, whose term will commence on 1 August 2022.

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Minister Hunt also announced the appointment of four new Commissioners, being Dr Mark Wenitong, Ms Heather D’Antoine, Ms Pheobe Ho and Ms Christine Jones.

Commission Chair Mrs Lucy Brogden AM, welcomed these announcements.

“As the Commission moves through its 10th year, at an inflection point of national mental health and suicide prevention systems change, we will continue to draw on the knowledge and expertise from our renewed Advisory Board.”

“As Commissioners we provide our expertise as a contribution to the Commission’s work. It has been a privilege to work with Professor Brown on the Board. Her credentials and expertise have been, and will continue to be, a significant asset for the Commission.

“Over the coming months Professor Brown and I will transition the role of Chair, in a similar manner to that undertaken by Professor Allan Fels and myself in 2018, when I took up the role,” said Mrs Brogden.

Professor Ngiare Brown is a proud Yuin nation woman from the South Coast of NSW and is recognised as the first identified Aboriginal medical graduate from NSW. Ngiare is a highly regarded clinician and researcher. She founded Ngaoara, a not-for-profit which provides clinical outreach for Aboriginal children affected by trauma, and in 2021 established Djanaba, a clinic for children and adolescents focused on social and emotional wellbeing.  Her work is focused on incorporating a strengths-based approach to breaking intergenerational cycles of trauma and disparity.

“It is my great privilege to accept the role of the next Chair of the Commission. I have had a number of firsts in my career which have been humbling but have also allowed me a sense of pride and responsibility. I look forward to taking up this new role in July with the same consideration.

“It is my aspiration to change social norms, to shift expectations to maintaining mental wellbeing not just treating mental illness, and that every person has access to social and emotional wellbeing support and care across the life course. Fundamental to this is connection to family, country and community that is built into accessible and affordable, high-quality system and service design and implementation,” said Professor Brown.

Commission CEO Christine Morgan extended her welcome to the announcement, “The Advisory Board plays a crucial role in supporting the Commission through the contribution of their wisdom, expertise and knowledge. Today’s announcement provides a renewal to the invaluable diversity within the Board.  We look forward to welcoming the new Commissioners.”

Mrs Brogden also acknowledged the wealth of experience and expertise of the new Advisory Board members, including lived experience.

“Mental health, suicide, distress and wellbeing can impact every aspect of any person’s life. This has been highlighted as a stark reality over the last two years, with the impacts on Australian’s mental health of the pandemic and natural disasters continuing. The diversity of experience of the Advisory Board members informs the breadth and depth of the Commission’s work, reflecting the diversity of experiences of mental ill health across the Australian population.

Since its inception in January 2012 the Commission has been privileged to be guided by Commissioners who have contributed a diverse wealth of expertise and experience to its work.

“It is this expertise, coupled in many cases with lived and living experience of mental ill health and suicide, that has provided a deep well of knowledge and advice to guide the Commission over the past decade.

“As we welcome our four new Commissioners, I would also like to celebrate the extraordinary contributions of the four Commissioners who have concluded their terms over recent months. Professor Maree Teeson, Professor Helen Milroy, Associate Professor Liz Schroeder and Ms Niharika Hiremath passionately supported the work of the Commission through their roles on the Advisory Board. Their commitment to excellence was unfailing and made a significant contribution,” Mrs Brogden said.

In addition to the Advisory Board appointments, Dr Michael Gardner has been appointed as the Head of the National Suicide Prevention Office, located within the Mental Health Commission.

Ms Christine Morgan, CEO of the Commission, said that the Commission is delighted with Dr Gardner’s appointment, noting that Dr Gardner’s expertise in suicide prevention in the context of whole-of-governments, whole-of-person, and whole-of-life policy reform will be an invaluable asset in helping to realise the Office’s national objectives.

“We look forward to Dr Gardner leading the Office and drawing on his government, academic, and in-community service provision experience, which is informed by his own lived experience of suicide.”

Ms Morgan said that Dr Gardner’s appointment is the result of an extensive robust process with a strong field of candidates.

The Office is situated within the National Mental Health Commission, with a separate and dedicated team and programme of work to be led by Dr Gardner.

“Dr Gardner’s leadership of the Office’s program of work will be a significant step towards ensuring a more preventative, compassionate and person-centred mental health and suicide prevention system, that is informed by lived and living experience and delivers opportunities to respond early and effectively to distress,” said Ms Morgan.

For more information on the incoming Commissioners, and the Commission Advisory Board – HERE.

National Mental Health Commission media contact

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Acknowledgement of Country

The Commission acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands throughout Australia.
We pay our respects to their clans, and to the elders, past and present, and acknowledge their continuing connection to land, sea and community.

Diversity

The Commission is committed to embracing diversity and eliminating all forms of discrimination in the provision of health services. The Commission welcomes all people irrespective of ethnicity, lifestyle choice, faith, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Lived Experience

We acknowledge the individual and collective contributions of those with a lived and living experience of mental ill-health and suicide, and those who love, have loved and care for them. Each person’s journey is unique and a valued contribution to Australia’s commitment to mental health suicide prevention systems reform.