The Mental Health Commission of New South Wales (Commission) is an independent statutory organisation established under the Mental Health Commission Act 2012 (the Act) and reports to the NSW Minister for Mental Health. 

The Commission is led by Ms Catherine Lourey, the NSW Mental Health Commissioner. Ms Lourey was appointed by the Governor of NSW in August 2017.  The NSW Mental Health Commissioner is supported by the Commissioner’s Advisory Board. The Commissioner’s Advisory Board is made up of the Deputy Mental Health Commissioners who are also appointed by the Governor.

The Commission takes advice from the Mental Health Community Advisory Council, who are appointed by the Minister for Mental Health, and the Audit and Risk Committee (ARC) who are appointed under the NSW Government’s Prequalification Scheme for ARC Independent Chairs and Members. 

As outlined in the Act, the Commission was established for the purpose of monitoring, reviewing and improving the mental health and well-being of the people of New South Wales. The Commission is subject to the direction and control of the Minister, except in relation to the preparation and contents of any plan or report prepared by the Commission. 

The Commission, while being an independent statutory organisation, forms part of Health Cluster and as a statutory organisation cannot employ its own staff. The Mental Health Commission Staff Agency was established for workforce employment purposes, with its Head of Agency as the Secretary of the NSW Ministry of Health. The Secretary delegates functions to the NSW Mental Health Commissioner under the Provision of Section 32 of the Government Sector Employment Act 2013.

Government Engagement Strategy

A review of the Commission was conducted after the first five years of operation as required by the Act. The review, conducted by Dr David Chaplow found that the Commission has met the functions under the Act, but made 17 recommendations to improve the Commission’s capacity to better reflect and support the needs people who have lived experience of mental health issues and caring.  

Recommendation 7 suggested that the Commission’s role in whole-of-Government mental health governance be strengthened through the Commission being made a full member of the NSW Mental Health Taskforce, and the Commission working with Government agencies to develop a whole-of-Government Engagement Strategy. 

The Commission is committed to working across Government and with the community and individuals to improve mental health and wellbeing for the people of NSW. To influence and deliver change, the Commission engages with Government agencies which are key to improving lives of people with lived experience of mental health issues and caring, families and kinship groups. By formalising existing partnerships and strengthening collaborative relationships through the development of a Government Engagement Strategy, the Commission will be in a better position to achieve its aims as set out in its legislation. 

In 2018, the Commission was made a full member of the NSW Mental Health Taskforce. This has enabled the Commission to gain greater visibility, oversight and provided further insight into efforts made and progress towards mental health reform. The Overarching Governance Model illustrates the important structures for governance of mental health in NSW, including the NSW Mental Health Taskforce.

Download the Government Engagement Strategy.

Download the Overarching Governance Model for more information about the context of the Commission’s work and links to the NSW Mental Health Taskforce. 

Charter Letter

As outlined in the legislation, the Commission is subject to the direction and control of the Minister. In informing the priorities of the Commission, the Minister for Mental Health provides the Commissioner with a Charter Letter outlining key priority areas for the Commission’s work.

View the Commission’s Charter Letter for 2020/2021

Audit and Risk Committee

Find out more about the Commission's Audit and Risk Committee.

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Last updated: 10 November 2020