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

Brian Pezzutti, Eugene McGarrell

Katrina Davis (Mental Health Commission of NSW)

Julie Robotham (Director Strategic Operations and Communications, Mental Health Commission of NSW), Catherine Lourey (Deputy NSW Mental Health Commissioner), Elizabeth Burford (A/Executive Officer)

1. Acknowledgments

  • Thomas Brideson provided an acknowledgement of country.
  •  Paula Hanlon provided an acknowledgement of people with lived experience of mental illness.

2. Commissioner update

The Commissioner provided an update on recent highlights in the projects of the Commission, approaching milestones, and newly established projects. 

Picking up on the launch of the Synergy trial of online access to mental health support, a discussion was held about the implications of the national digital mental health gateway. It was noted that ease of access and reducing confusion across the competing online offerings are important. However the potential loss of specialist support services needs to be addressed.

3. Feedback on February workshop

Elizabeth Burford provided an update on how the outcomes of the February workshop of the Council and the Deputy Commissioners has been integrated into the Commission’s business planning.  The information that came from the workshop will be valuable for applying a lens to the business plan, shaping the focus of ongoing work and informing future meetings of the Community Advisory Council and Deputy Commissioners.

4. International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership (IIMHL) Update

Catherine Lourey provided an update on planning for the 2017 meeting of the IIMHL.

5. Environmental scan

Katrina Davis provided an update on changes in the environment that impact on the work of the Commission and asked for similar updates and advice from Council members.  Information provided include:

  • An important milestone for Primary Health Networks is in September when the regional integration plans are due.
  • A number of Primary Health Networks share the Commission’s concern about shifts in Network funding.
  • There are a number of strengths in relation to the Commission’s position that need to be continually leveraged.
  • Standout Commission led or supported projects like the Mental Health Atlas, suicide prevention work, and the funding review need sustained momentum.
  • The challenges of an increasingly competitive environment need to be addressed.
  • Bodies like the Commission need to continue to make sure a range of views are heard.
  • With the constant introduction of new systems, it is important also to look for the gaps and the people with the most complex needs.
  • The coming together of the biomedical and social determinants models needs to be supported.
  • In an environment of financial constraints it is often prevention and early intervention that are overlooked. There may be opportunity to track funding of these programs.
  • Issues related to government accountability when services are delivered by outsourced providers need to be addressed.
  • The development of the fifth national health plan represents an opportunity and a number of challenges for the sector including the alignment of state and federal programs.
  • Understanding the mental health funding in sectors such as education and the distribution of federal funds to PHNs is important.  There may be opportunities through funding arrangements to challenge siloed approaches.
  • Opportunities need to be constantly looked for and taken up. For example, PHNs do have scope to influence policy and the services being delivered through the identification of needs and cross-sector partnerships.
  • State and federal relations are a constant challenge. For example in the suicide prevention area the task of tracking federal funding next to state funding is a challenge. 
  • The links between urban design and mental health are an opportunity for investigation.

6. Peer led design and delivery of services

Sage Green provided an update on the Commission funded literature review on the effectiveness of services led or run by consumers in mental health, and the Lived Experience Project on consumer participation, influence and leadership that is being undertaken by a steering group of consumers. Council members were asked to discuss a number of focus questions related to peer led design and delivery of services. A number of relevant local and overseas initiatives were listed. Further feedback included:

  • Issues of inequity in relation to peer worker remuneration continue, particularly when government and NGO workforces are compared.  The issues of role definition and the variety of roles that peer workers may fill are influences here.
  • It was noted that there is a vast workforce of people with mental illness who are not in designated positions and who are not open about their experiences. The benefits of being open about these experiences were discussed including the impact on stigma, but the need for it to be a matter of personal choice was also emphasised. Barriers to being open about these experiences need to be addressed.
  • The potential positive role of a professional group for peer workers was acknowledged.

ACTION 2016.2: Council members to provide suggestions for the 2016 Commissioner’s Community Champion award. 

7. Social media and mental health

A general discussion about social media and mental health was undertaken.

8. NSW Health Review of Aboriginal Mental Health Plan

Tom Brideson provided an update on the review of the Aboriginal Mental Health and Well Being Policy 2006-2010. A Steering Committee and an Expert Advisory Committee has been established. The following was noted:

  • The Commission has produced a number of useful policy documents including the Living Well report, the Living Well Strategic Plan, and the Yarning honestly about Aboriginal mental health in NSW paper. The main points of these documents must be taken forward.
  • The Commission’s partnership with the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (AHMRC) is important as is the NSW Aboriginal Health Partnership Agreement between the AMHRC and the NSW Government.
  • The outcomes of the national review of mental health services will be an important influence and work toward the fifth national plan for mental health will be important to monitor.
  • Aboriginal mental health needs to have a distinct policy focus, but also needs to be integrated across all policies.
  • There needs to be a genuineness of implementation and reporting.
  • There are similarities between the Aboriginal mental health workforce and other emerging workforces. There is a danger of tokenism. Meaningful leadership and integration of the workforce with other professionals needs to be in place.
  • The Aboriginal Mental Health Workforce model is straightforward to roll out. Some Local Health Districts are doing better than others in taking up Aboriginal mental health traineeships.
  • A sophisticated understanding of partnerships and how they work is important in this policy area.
  • The Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Declaration has been enormously influential. 

9. NSW Health mental health workforce planning

Catherine Lourey provided an update on the workplace planning currently being undertaken by the NSW Ministry of Health. The workforce planning is taking a cross-sector approach and looking to strengthen community based care. Council members provided the following feedback:

  • Patient to staff ratios must be addressed.
  • Outposting has been used with some success.
  • The New Zealand work undertaken by Robyn Shearer should be considered.
  • Consumers need to be involved in the workforce planning.
  • Ongoing issues related to the peer workforce must be resolved – for example the proposed supervision framework, the Framework for the NSW Public Sector Consumer Workforce, and the proposed NGO coordination of the workforce.
  • The potential for peer workers and Aboriginal mental health workers to work across sectors should be considered. The valuing of these workforces must be addressed.
  • Parity between the community-managed sector and public sector workforces needs to be addressed.
  • Appropriate support for beginning career professionals needs to be built in.
  • The potential loss of government accountability when workforces are contracted out needs to be addressed.
  • The workforce’s capability to work with people with intellectual disability and mental illness, or mental illness and drug and alcohol issues needs to be addressed.
  • The balance between making sure workers have specialised skills, and ensuring that workers can manage all presentations that occur, needs to be considered.

10. Succession planning

It was noted that current Council appointments expire on 30 November 2016. Advertising will commence soon for expressions of interest for new appointments. It is expected that there will be some continuity of Council membership.

11. Action log

The Action Log was noted. 

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Last updated: 20 July 2017