The Commission took part in an international and national commissioners’ meeting on March 11 and 12 in Sydney, where participants agreed on five priority issues for future collaboration: knowledge exchange; seclusion and restraint; Aboriginal and First Nations mental health, work and mental health, and international benchmarking.
The meeting, of Commissioners of Australia, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand and the United States, as well as Australian states, provided a forum for discussion and the sharing of experiences, with participants exchanging information about what has worked and what has not and ideas on areas for future development. The meeting also created the foundation for partnerships and shared resources in relation to common activities.
The Commissioners reaffirmed their goal of supporting improvements towards a fully contributing life for consumers, families and carers, and made a joint statement known as the Sydney Declaration, to emphasise their shared commitment to advocating for, supporting and driving change.
Australian Commissioners will convene again in July in Port Hedland, Western Australia, to further advance the issues identified in the March meeting.
“The establishment of mental health commissions worldwide reflects growing recognition that people with mental illness can easily fall through the cracks of health systems better suited to physical health problems,” said John Feneley, Mental Health Commissioner of NSW.
“Colleagues from commissions in different states and countries experience many of the same issues in advancing the needs of this vulnerable group of people in a crowded public agenda, and have much to learn from each other,” Mr Feneley said. “Our agreement articulates some initial priorities: to improve the way we offer mental health care to indigenous people, move away from outdated and harmful practices of seclusion and restraint, and emphasise the role of work in good mental health. It will give us additional authority as we seek to advance those issues in our individual jurisdictions.”