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

Cathy Kezelman, Paula Hanlon

Alanna Hector (Mental Health Commission of NSW)

Carlton Quartly, Neda Dusevic, Sage Green, Danielle Keogh, Julie Robotham (Mental Health Commission of NSW)

1. Acknowledgements

Thomas Brideson provided an Acknowledgement of Country.  Erica Roy provided an Acknowledgement of People with Lived Experience of Mental Illness. 

2. Welcome

Karen Burns welcomed attendees and noted apologies. 

3. Update on Strategic Plan

The Commissioner provided a brief update on the status of the draft Strategic Plan for Mental Health in NSW. It was noted that the draft Plan is still being considered by the Government, with positive discussions held to date with key agencies with regard to the draft Plan and the whole-of-government response.

The Commission will host an event on 4 December 2014 to thank people for being involved and to promote the Living Well Report, the companion document to the Plan.

4. Commission update

The Commissioner provided an update on the Commission’s work, noting that its Annual Report had just been tabled in the NSW Parliament.

5. Member update

The Council Chair tabled the Council members’ Update Paper, which was noted.

6. Feedback on online collaboration

Council has trialled the use of a social network, Yammer, to communicate out of session. Feedback was generally positive. There was discussion of various web-based project management and collaboration tools.

ACTION 2014.24 Secretariat to investigate options for a social network tool to manage all Council communication via one medium.

7. Member item: reducing coercive measures in acute care settings

There was a discussion of the prevalence of coercive measures in acute care settings. The issues discussed included:

  • the procedures for use of seclusion and restraint are covered in NSW Health policy, but the prevalence varied between geographic areas
  • the culture of an inpatient unit affects its seclusions and restraint rates. Staff changes, where experienced staff go to other wards, could sometimes leave inexperienced staff resorting to a default of using coercive measures
  • ongoing training and intensive onsite support is needed to constantly build and maintain staff skills in violence prevention and management, verbal de-escalation techniques, and others
  • Council will await the outcomes of the National Seclusion and Restraint Project. Deputy Commissioner Bradley Foxlewin is Co-Chair of the Core Reference Group overseeing its work.

ACTION 2014.25 The Council will revisit this matter after the publication of the National Seclusion and Restraint Project report, expected by the end of 2014. 

8. Commission item: Communities Matter and Conversations Matter suicide prevention activities

Alanna Hector presented on two suicide prevention projects currently managed by the Commission in partnership with Suicide Prevention Australia and the Hunter Institute of Mental Health.

Suggestions were sought from Council members on ways to disseminate the resources state-wide, mindful of the need to reach those who need them most and for the utilisation of the resources to be sustainable.

Issues discussed included:

  • the essential information needed in a suicide prevention toolkit
  • which are the best agencies to work with at local level e.g. headspace school support
  • the critical role of private enterprises – rural bank managers and staff, real estate agents, legal advisors and hairdressers may hear warning signals before health professionals do. Everyone needs to know how to recognise the signs of someone thinking about suicide, and how to broach the topic
  • dissemination to CALD communities
  • need to identify gaps in knowledge e.g. young children postvention; engaging older generations.

9. Member item: Partnerships for Health

Council members noted that there was an opportunity to provide feedback on Partnerships for Health models to the NSW Ministry of Health’s Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol Office. Council members discussed issues arsing from the development of the models, and how they might be overcome.

Issue raised included:

  • small NGOs may lack the capacity to adapt;
  • many not-for-profits may be inexperienced in being part of consortia or being a subcontractor;
  • the kind of consortia the Ministry of Health envisages would require the NGOs to have expertise in contract management, for which they would need a lot of training.

10. Commission item: Monitoring and reporting framework

Carlton Quartly and Neda Dusevic provided an update on the Commission’s monitoring and reporting framework, seeking input from Council members. An overview was also provided of the Commission’s Annual Report (see Item 4).

Background was provided on the role of the Commission in monitoring and reporting. The Commission is supporting change at the consumer, carer, community, service, regional and state levels. In terms of the community, this will be reflected through the monitoring and reporting of issues such as the community’s mental health and wellbeing and levels of stigma and discrimination

Feedback from Council members regarding the Commission’s proposed visits to directly engage with the mental health sector, focussed on understanding and supporting change, included:

  • the need to see different people/services on subsequent visits to a region
  • the need to ensure engagement with hard to reach consumers who might not come to a forum, but may participate online
  • the importance of not being tokenistic as the Commission cannot visit the entire state or reach all consumers
  • the Commission must bring the whole community with it, including people with lived experience and carers, with it
  • the Commission must “do its homework” about a region prior to visiting.

11. Member item: Peer workforce

Earlier in 2014, Council identified peer workforce as an area for further discussion. Sage Green provided an overview of the Commission’s forthcoming Lived Experience Framework, whereby the Commission hopes to show leadership in fostering meaningful consumer participation. Council members concurred with the Commission’s initial thinking that:

  • it is more than “workforce”: it is about lived experience at every level (leadership, influence and participation)
  • it is not just “peer work”, it’s also having consumer and peers in all sorts of jobs
  • there are many consumers who are not identified as consumer workers because they choose not to disclose it. Individuals should be able to determine how they identify themselves, not have it determined for them
  • the development of the Aboriginal peer workforce is vital, so agencies can request a peer worker when they need that expertise
  • there is a lack of understanding among employers of the difference between peer support workers and peer workers.

12. Commission item: Medication and mental illness

Carlton Quartly and Danielle Keogh provided an overview of the Commission’s current pharmacotherapy project, its medication and mental illness issues paper and call for public submissions.

ACTION 2014.26 Council members agreed to continue to circulate the issues paper to their networks and encourage people to make a submission. 

13. Commission item: Launch of Strategic Plan communications

Julie Robotham provided an update on the planning for the release of the draft Strategic Plan. Her team is preparing a 20-page, online summary version as a PDF, so it can be printed out. There will also be an easy English version in order to engage as broad a community as possible.

Ms Robotham showed a mock-up of the social media project, Living Well, which will have its own URL, The contributions to this project will be linked to the Commission’s stakeholder database which will help us reach the community and experience direct and authentic responses from them. Members of the public will be able to communicate with the Commission via any social media channel they use – facebook, twitter, instagram and likely pinterest too.

A specific issue discussed was whether CALD communities would be able to write in their own language, and whether community moderators might be employed to lead discussions in other languages.

ACTION 2014.27 Council members to send the Commission their key contacts for inclusion in the Commission’s stakeholder database. 

14. Action log

Council members noted the Action log Items. 

15. Revision of Terms of Reference

Terms of Reference are to be reviewed annually.

A typographical error was noted, “less than” should read “fewer than”, and the change was made.

ACTION 2014.28 Secretariat to correct typographical error.

16. Other business

Next meeting: 27 February 2015.

ACTION 2014.29 Commission to circulate update briefing to Council members prior to the next meeting.

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Last updated: 3 June 2017