Thomas Brideson, Karen Burns (Chair), Maria Cassaniti, Sue Cripps, John Feneley (NSW Mental Health Commissioner), Paula Hanlon, Tim Heffernan, Cathy Kezelman, Jenni Campbell, Diana McKay, Brian Pezzutti, Vince Ponzio, Yvonne Quadros, Erica Roy 

Katrina Davis (Mental Health Commission of NSW)

Darryl O’Donnell (Executive Director, Mental Health Commissioner), Sarah Hanson (Executive Officer, Mental Health Commission of NSW), Kerri Lawrence (Manager, Strategy and Policy, Mental Health Commission of NSW), Steve Candiloro (Assistant Manager, Communications and Stakeholder Relations, Mental Health Commission of NSW), Catherine Lourey (Special Advisor, Mental Health Commission of NSW), NOUS consultancy group

1. Acknowledgements

Thomas Brideson provided an Acknowledgement of Country. Tim Heffernan provided an Acknowledgement of People with Lived Experience of Mental Illness. 

2. Welcome

Karen Burns and John Feneley welcomed attendees.

3. Member update

The previously circulated Member Update was noted. The Chair highlighted the update provided by Vince Ponzio that the Federal Government’s proposal  to cease payment of social security benefits to people who are detained in a psychiatric hospital due to serious criminal charges because they were considered unfit to plead or were found not guilty due to mental illness remains unresolved. It was noted that the NSW Mental Health Commission had provided a submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs on this issue. 

4. Commissioner update

The previously circulated Commissioner’s Update was noted. The Commissioner spoke about meeting with the new Minister for Mental Health. The Commissioner also spoke about the work of the taskforce overseeing the implementation of Living Well: A Strategic Plan for Mental Health in NSW 2014-2024. The Council noted risks including that the implementation would be overly focused on Health and only on the announcements made to date. 

5. Business Plan update

Darryl O’Donnell, Executive Director, provided an update on the Commission’s business planning process. With the adoption by government of the Strategic Plan, the Commission is moving into a new phase of its work. 

A range of information has been sourced to inform the direction and assist with priority setting including a review of 2014 feedback provided by the Council.

Priorities for 2015/2016 are:

  • Improving the community-based mental health response
  • Improving the journey for people who use mental health supports
  • Preventing suicide
  • Promoting mental wellbeing and resilience
  • Ensuring systems and services rise to the reform challenge
  • Measuring and reporting progress

In relation to suicide prevention, Council members discussed the investigation of, and research on, suicide and suicide attempts.    

6. Funding for LHDs to plan reform

In March 2015, The Commission invited Local Health Districts and Speciality Networks to submit expressions of interest for funding of projects that effectively plan and seed activities for the implementation of the Strategic Plan. Proposals were received from 13 LHDs and one Specialty Network with all applicants being successful in receiving funding. A document summarising the funded projects was circulated.

Council members noted the diversity of projects that had been proposed. It was noted that the Commission would report on the use of funds. 

7. Evidence guide on prevention and promotion for mental health

The Commission has contracted the Hunter Institute of Mental Health to produce an evidence guide on promotion of mental health, prevention of mental illness and early intervention.  A presentation was provided on the project.

Council members provided the following feedback:

  • Prevention starts with agencies other than Health and the guide must be used across government, for example in Education.
  • The guide must not become too complex to read and understand. An easy English version may be useful.
  • The guide must be clearly faithful to the evidence to engage decision-makers. 
  • There may be scope for co-producing education on wellbeing using a recovery college model.
  • The guide may be a useful tool for addressing stigma.

Council members indicated their willingness to comment on drafts of the guide. 

8. Update on peer work forum

An update was provided on the Peer Work Forum held on 23 March 2015. The Forum was designed to provide evidence and resources to organisations not yet experienced in working with peer workers.  A video summarising the messages of the day was screened and positively received.

In supporting this reform Council members noted it would be important to disseminate information on:

  • Financial benefits of employing peer workers
  • Effective models for supervision
  • Industrial arrangements
  • Career pathways
  • The different roles filled by peer workersm - video resources demonstrating these roles may be useful
  • The use of peer workers in CALD communities
  • Successfully addressing challenges associated with employing peer workers
  • The boundaries of the peer worker role.

9. Champions for change and capacity building

Steve Candiloro, Assistant Manager Communications and Stakeholder Relations, initiated a discussion on resources that would assist Council members to effectively communicate the directions of reform as outlined in the Strategic Plan. Council members provided a range of suggestions for resources to support reform.

It was noted that the Commission is undertaking a focussed piece of work on how to resource consumers and carers to be champions of change. 

10. National Mental Health Commission's Report

Catherine Lourey, Special Advisor, presented a paper on the common points, and points of difference, between the Strategic Plan and the National Mental Health Commission’s Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services. The two documents centre upon a shared vision which is the centrality of lived experience and the inclusion of these voices in policy development; greater emphasis on community based alternatives and funding strategies to match; priorities for reduction in suicide and the importance of the NDIS. 

11. First Progress Report

Catherine Lourey provided an update on the Commission’s current reporting activities in relation to progress on implementation of the Strategic Plan. Advice was sought on useful indicators for reform readiness. Council members provided the following suggestions:

  • Effectiveness of partnerships.
  • MBS and PBS data on Aboriginality and coverage of reporting on Aboriginality.
  • Consumer experience of mental health supports.
  • Carer experience of mental health supports.
  • Use of medications.
  • Equity of access.
  • Fidelity to evidence based supports.
  • Workforce development with a focus on the peer workforce and Aboriginal mental health workforce; workforce satisfaction.
  • NDIS readiness.
  • Recovery orientation and trauma-informed orientation of services.
  • Indicators of outcomes for consumers according to varying experiences of illness.
  • Implementation of strategies for suicide prevention.
  • Employment and use of social security benefits.

Feedback was also provided in the form of a discussion about the onerous reporting requirements on frontline staff, how to ensure frontline staff report data, the need to identify useful data for collection, and how to share data across agencies. 

12. Stakeholder views of the Commission

Independent consulting group, Nous, was asked by the Commission to assess stakeholders’ understanding of the role of the Commission, stakeholders’ views on how the Commission has performed its role to date and stakeholder needs and expectations of the Commission for the future. Nous has provided a report on its consultations. This information was noted. 

13. Other business

The Action Log was noted. The meeting dates for the next year were noted. 

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Last updated: 3 June 2017