The Commission congratulates Deputy Commissioner Pamela (Pam) Rutledge on being recognised for her significant contribution and wonderful work across the mental health and community sectors. Pam was recognised with an Australia Day Award on 26 January 2021 as a Member (AM) in the General Division for her significant service to people living with disability or social vulnerability.
Pam has worked across a range of portfolios including mental health, health, aged care, disability and government, and held senior executive roles in government leading agencies. She has been a CEO leading community-managed organisations, a member of the Mental Health Review Tribunal and since November 2018 she has been a Deputy Commissioner with the Mental Health Commission of NSW. Throughout her career Pam has been a strong advocate for people with lived experience of mental health issues, a thoughtful leader and change agent.
In the 1980s Pam worked on the landmark Inquiry led by David Richmond – the Inquiry into Health Services for the Psychiatrically Ill and Developmentally Disabled – which set the framework for a different approach to services for people living with mental health issues and services for people with developmental disability in NSW.
More recently Pam has played an instrumental role in developing Living Well in Focus 2020-2024, the NSW strategy for community recovery, wellbeing and mental health, and her experience and expertise were instrumental to highlighting what people across NSW said was most important to improve their lives as carers, family members, mental health workers or community members.
Pam has featured in recent media stories in the Daily Telegraph and in the Blue Mountains Gazette and below are some excerpted quotes from Pam as published in an article in the Gazette about her work with the Commission.
"Early on, I was convinced that we needed to change systems at a community level to build a better society for people. Mental health and wellbeing and being resilient is so important ... and being able to be part of the community. All these things make us able to live the lives we (want to) live," Pam said.
"We know that there are so many great services out there now. But it is very uneven. We need to see long-term investment on a regular, planned basis to get everything to a level that people can get the service that they need.
"Undoubtedly there are heightened levels of anxiety and depression and people feeling isolated and lonely (due to COVID)," Pam said. "The right response to that is to get the community working and encouraging people to connect, reaching out to their neighbours and each other. Connection is the biggest preventative factor".
Read a short biography outlining Pam’s career.