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

Katrina Davis (Mental Health Commission of NSW)

Other attendees
Sarah Hanson (Mental Health Commission of NSW)
Kerri Lawrence (Mental Health Commission of NSW)
Darryl O'Donnell (Mental Health Commission of NSW)

Sebastian Rosenberg (Synergia)

1. Acknowledgements

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

2. Welcome and apologies

Karen Burns, Council Chair, welcomed members, particularly new Council member Yvonne Quadros. Diana McKay provided her apologies for the first portion of the meeting. Vince Ponzio and Sue Cripps have both moved to new positions. The Register of Interests will be updated accordingly. 

3. Confirmation of agenda and declaration of interests 

ACTION 2013.16: Commission to update Council’s Register of Interests.

4. Acting arising from previous meeting

Council members noted the Log of Action Items.

ACTION 2013.17: Council members will in future review the Minutes of meetings prior to their publication on the Mental Health Commission of NSW’s website and forwarding to the Minister.

5. Consideration of Terms of Reference

Council members noted the updated Terms of Reference. Some minor amendments were requested:

  • Meeting minutes will now be published and forwarded to the Minister within 14 days of each meeting.
  • The Terms of Reference will be reviewed every 12 months.
  • Changes to the Terms of Reference will be agreed to by Council consensus.  

ACTION 2013.18: Commission to update Terms of Reference with requested amendments.  

6. Member feedback 

Council members each had the opportunity to provide community feedback or report any significant developments relevant to the Commission’s work. The following issues were raised:

  • Social Impact Bonds as a possible source of funding in the mental health sector.
  • The custodial nature of built acute care environments.
  • Mechanisms and funding for meaningful participation by consumers at all levels. 
  • Collection of statistics and other information regarding hospital admissions, activities of emergency departments, and the use of seclusion and restraint.
  • A lack of 24 hour supported accommodation in the community.  
  • Activity Based Funding (ABF) and incentives for some activities.
  • Use of technology for early intervention services for young people.
  • Opening of new Headspace sites.
  • Data or research on the use of GPs and private clinicians as a means for early intervention.
  • Eligibility for services under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
  • Funding of services in the NDIS environment.
  • The launch of the NDIS in the Hunter region and establishment of DisabilityCare.  
  • Access to employment and employment programs for people with mental illness.
  • Services in the community for people with mental illness.
  • Engagement of GPs in the mental health system.  
  • The need for good news stories in the mental health system to be heard.
  • The mental health and support needs of non-residing fathers.   
  • Clarity around the role of the Commission.
  • Mechanisms for reform in the mental health system. 
  • Increasing community diversity and the complexity of the work being undertaken with culturally and linguistically diverse communities. 
  • The needs of humanitarian entrants and second generation migrants.
  • Complexity of issues in relation to the mental health system and Aboriginal communities.  
  • The role of international frameworks on the rights of first peoples for our work.
  • Prevalence of trauma among people who present to mental health services. 
  • Recruitment practices and candidates’ philosophy of care.
  • The therapeutic time taken by clinicians with consumers.
  • Practices around how the Nomination of Primary Carer takes place. 
  • It is Homeless Persons’ Week this week.  
  • Positive work in providing services to rough sleepers.
  • Cost escalation issues for Local Health District budgets.
  • The restructure of Family and Community Services to align boundaries with those of Local Health Districts.
  • Growing evidence base in mental health and intellectual disability.
  • Projects considering the needs of people with Borderline Personality Disorder.
  • Accreditation of the Forensic Hospital. 

Following discussion a number of items were identified for follow up action.

ACTION 2013.19: Commission to develop and distribute a briefing paper on the potential of Social Impact Bonds.

ACTION 2013.20: Commission to develop and distribute a briefing paper on the NDIS and what is means for the mental health sector.

ACTION 2013.21: Commission to forward to Council members information on the review of the Mental Health Act 2007.

7. Strategic Plan for Mental Health in NSW

Council members noted the presentation provided by Sebastian Rosenberg, Synergia, and related papers, and provided input into the current stage of planning for the draft Strategic Plan for Mental Health in NSW.

8. Suicide Prevention Implementation Plan

Council members noted a number of tabled documents related to the development of a Suicide Prevention Implementation Plan. This work builds on that begun by the NSW Ministerial Advisory Committee on Suicide Prevention. The Mental Health Commission of NSW has been asked to advise on the recommendations of the Ministerial Committee and develop a draft implementation plan. Council advice on the Commission’s response to the Ministerial Committee’s recommendations was sought and will inform the development of a draft implementation plan.

In addition to more specific feedback, the following issues were thought to be important:

  • A whole of community response.
  • Difficulties in obtaining accurate, up-to-date statistics.
  • Strong links between lead agencies and local communities.
  • A range of government and non-government agencies are important stakeholders or have a role in leading strategies.  

ACTION 2013.22: Commission to distribute the draft Suicide Prevention Implementation Plan to Council members.  

9. Consumer participation, peer support and the consumer workforce in NSW

Council members noted the tabled papers. A lively discussion was had. The following issues were raised:

  • A good amount of evidence already exists around these issues.
  • The development of consumer-directed care and workforce implications.
  • The broader umbrella of “emerging workforces”.
  • Inconsistent concentration of, and gaps in, peer workforce across the State.
  • Value of both consumer roles and consumers in other roles.
  • Peer work may be a stepping stone to other employment opportunities or may become career.
  • Lack of qualification at a degree level.
  • Need for training for some of the roles that consumers are asked to participate in.
  • The existence of ‘necessary tensions’ and the necessity of having people in a system that advocate for change, but potential for this role to make peer workers vulnerable.
  • Use of the word ‘consumer’ implies lived experience but also may require that a person identified as such.
  • Psychological safety for consumer workers and the types of supervision they are accessing. 
  • Linking up of non Government Organisation and public sector consumer workers.
  • Consumer Workers currently wear a lot of hats as the workforce is not large.

Four recommendations were put to the Council. The recommendations and Council’s response follow:


Council response

  1. Further investigate the notion of “necessary tensions”.

Supported within the context of Recommendation three.

  1. Survey Consumer Workers about their psychological safety and experience of stigma and discrimination in the workplace.

Supported the notion of surveying Consumer Workers about their experience in general. It was recommended that the Commission canvas recent surveys and other work in this area.

  1. Develop a discussion paper based on the more contentious areas including discrimination in the workplace, pay rates, number of hours per week consumer workers are employed, differing roles and whether the concept of genuine peer support has been diluted by the guidelines for Personal Helpers and Mentors by naming the role “Peer Support Worker” although some of their role is not considered genuine peer support. 


  1. Further discuss Mental Health Coordinating Council’s previous and current work in this area.

It was supported that the Commission continue to work with other agencies on the development of the consumer workforce.

The following action items arose from this discussion:

ACTION 2013.23: Commission toforward the reference for theLindsay Oades, Frank Deane and Julie Anderson article to Council members.

ACTION 2013.24: Commission to forwardthe NSW Mental Health Consumer Worker Framework to Council members.

ACTION 2013.25: Commission to undertake further work in relation to the consumer workforce in line with the Council’s recommendations.

10. Other business

ACTION 2013.26: Commission to provide name plates for the next Council meeting.

ACTION 2013.27: Commission to canvas Council members about the possibility of a 2-day meeting in November.

ACTION 2013.28: Commission to invite Council members via email to provide feedback on the NSW Rural Health Plan Issues Paper. A teleconference of interested members may be held.

Download Word version of Minutes (143 KB).

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Last updated: 3 June 2017