After a short but significant time at the NSW Mental Health Commission on a full-time basis, we farewelled Karen Burns, NSW Deputy Mental Health Commissioner, on 3 August 2018.
Ms Burns had been associated with the NSW Mental Health Commission since its earliest days, first chairing our Community Advisory Council, then being appointed a part-time Deputy Commissioner in December 2016, before becoming acting full-time Deputy Commissioner in October 2017.
Ms Burns brought extensive experience, skills and insights to her roles, reflecting her broad experience across the mental health sector. Her knowledge of the community managed sector and passion for improving people’s lives was evident in all her work.
Ms Burns led some key Commission projects, including our review of the indicators used to measure Living Well's progress, and our work to develop a set of evidence-based principles that people can use when planning, developing and monitoring community-based supports for people with mental health issues and their families and carers. She oversaw the Commission's activities to monitor and report on mental health reform, as well as the Commission's own business operations. She inspired all with her leadership during a time of transition at the Commission.
Ms Burns was passionate about sustaining and protecting small, highly specialised community organisations to ensure the NSW community does not lose their valuable work. She was interested in developing leadership and business skills among non-government organisation executives to help them respond to system changes, including the roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Promoting workplace wellbeing and participating in visits to communities around NSW were among the highlights of Ms Burns' time at the Commission. She was also instrumental in championing the use of clinical supervision, to ensure Commission staff and all those we meet with are supported.
I would like to acknowledge the valuable contribution that Karen has made to the Commission and wish her all the best in her next adventures.
NSW Mental Health Commissioner