Attendees
Karen Burns, Martin Cohen, John Feneley (NSW Mental Health Commissioner), Sarah Hanson (Mental Health Commission), Fay Jackson, Catherine Lourey, Robyn Shields, Allan Sparkes

Apologies
Julie Robotham (Mental Health Commission)

Secretariat
Louis Parry (Mental Health Commission)

Guests
Cathy Baker (Mental Health Commission), Jenny Crocker (Mental Health Commission)

1.    Acknowledgments

John Feneley provided an acknowledgement of country, and an acknowledgement of people with a lived experience of mental illness.

2.    Overview from the Commissioner

John Feneley provided an update on the work of the Commission. Points raised included:

  • The Commission’s recent carers’ event, attended by over 130 carers
  • The Commissioner recently attended the mental health taskforce meeting and noted the increased conversation about the importance of not simply monitoring actions but being concerned with mental health across government
  • The Commissioner has recently met with two politicians to discuss their interest in mental health:
    • Federal parliamentarian Julian Lesser
    • NSW Opposition leader Luke Foley 
  • The Commissioner will also soon meet with Scott Farlow, NSW MP and Chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Mental Health
  • On 25 July 2017 the Commission will hold an event with the Minister at Parliament House, to launch Living Well in Later Life
  • On 27 July 2017 the Commission will hold an event with the Minister at Parliament House, to launch Mental Illness and Cognitive Impairment in the Criminal Justice System
  • The Commission’s funding report is soon to be finalised, and will be given to the Minister for tabling
  • Workplace mental health is emerging as a key focus for the Commission over the next 12 months. In the past the Commission has worked with iCare, and is now also working with Safe Work. The relevant NSW Minister, Matt Kean, has expressed an interest in cooperating with the Commission.

3.    Deputy Commissioners’ update

The Deputy Commissioners each provided an update on their work in the time since the previous meeting. 

  • Fay spoke about her recent speech at the Council of Australian Tribunals 2017 National Conference.
  • Fay also spoke of her recent participation at a National Register of Mental Health Consumer & Carers Representatives induction day, and her participation at a youth forum.
  • Fay has an upcoming meeting with Dr Murray Wright, Chief Psychiatrist, in relation to the review seclusion and restraint
  • Robyn spoke of her work with the expert witness program.
  • Robyn, John and Sarah met with the President of the Law Society. They talked about aboriginal expert witnesses and aboriginal mental health in custody.
  • Robyn spoke recently at an event of the Aboriginal Health & Mental Health Research Council.
  • Robyn met with two neuropsychiatrists, and talked about testing people who come before the courts.
  • Robyn and John met with Justice Health.
  • Martin has had a few talks and meetings, and also spoke recently to all Commission staff.
  • Martin has commenced looking at the alignment of mental health programs and the work being done between PHNs and LHDs.
  • Allan spoke of his attendance at a forum of seven mental health organisation CEOs.
  • Allan spoke recently at a Mental Health in the Workplace conference in Melbourne.
  • Allan presented for the police recon units, and also attended the graduation of IPROWD participants.
  • Karen spoke of HASI Plus contracts, and LHD funding.
  • Karen spoke about possible changes to funding for the NSW Family and Carer Mental Health Program. 
  • Catherine will attend the Mental Health Workforce Advisory Committee. 

Action – the Commission will seek a briefing from NSW Health in relation to funding for the NSW Family and Carer Mental Health Program.  

4.    2017-18 NSW State Budget  

Catherine Lourey spoke about the NSW Budget, and the Commission’s allocation outlining the costs of the Commission in relation to staffing, operating costs, grants to NGOs and sourcing particular expertise. 

5.    Overview from Carers Event 

Jenny Crocker gave a presentation on the carer’s event. Information provided included the following:

  • The event was attended by 130 people, consisting of six different language groups, and a spread of age and ethnicity.
  • Maria Bisogni from the MHRT spoke of making rights under the Mental Health Act more accessible.
  • Mary Hawkins from the NDIA spoke, and is keen for feedback that can be used for forward planning.
  • Fifteen people participated in giving messages to camera. These will be given to the relevant entities, for example hospitals.
  • De Backman-Hoyle gave ideas for help and advice for carers.
  • The Commission captured written comments and video comments, and will document these.
  • The Commission has put out a follow-up survey, and has received 57 responses to date.

6.    Seclusion and Restraint Review and Commission Submission to Parliamentary Inquiry

The attendees discussed the seclusion and restraint review. Points raised included:

  • Robyn is part of the panel undertaking the review under the Chief Psychiatrist and will attend a site visit with Dr Murray Wright.
  • John Feneley would like to know if the Commission can be of any assistance to the review.
  • Sarah Hanson spoke about the commission’s submission to the parliamentary inquiry, and asked the attendees to provide her with any thoughts within the next few days.
  • Fay said that having a peer worker working with staff at hospitals can help to de-escalate situations and reduce the need for seclusion and restraint.

7.    Review of Commission Act

Sarah Hanson spoke about the upcoming review of the Mental Health Commission Act. Points raised included the wish to strengthen the Commission’s ability to obtain information from agencies, and the wish that agencies be required to respond to Commission reports. The Commission also is of the opinion that its focus should remain on mental health, and not on drug and alcohol. 

8.    Business plan and priorities for 2017-18

John Feneley spoke about the Commission’s business plan & priorities for 2017-18. Likely key areas for consideration in any Charter letter from the Minister include: greater alignment between PHN and LHD service planning, transparency and accessibility of data; workplace mental health; and suicide prevention. 

9.    Community survey

Cathy Baker gave a presentation on the findings of the Commission’s community survey. The findings and the technical paper are available on the Commission’s website. 

10.    Informal meeting with the Minister

The Minister visited for afternoon tea, and met with the Deputy Commissioners. 

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Last updated: 2 July 2018