The quality of inpatient care, families’ experience of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and innovations in suicide prevention were among the focus of visits made by NSW Mental Health Commissioner Catherine Lourey this month.
In mid July, Ms Lourey visited the Professor Marie Bashir Centre in Sydney Local Health District (SLHD). The Centre provides a number of mental health services including an acute mental health unit, a short stay unit, inpatient programs and care for women with their babies. Ms Lourey was joined on the visit by Commission staff members Katrina Davies and Lisa Sandrk, and met with the Chief Executive of SLHD Dr Teresa Anderson, clinicians, peer workers and allied health staff. Staff generously shared information about their programs and answered questions about how they are working to improve the mental and physical health of the people they serve.
On 24 July, Ms Lourey and Commission staff member Alex Barwick travelled to Central Coast ARAFMI’s consultation with families about their experiences of the NDIS so far. Families and carers, people with mental health issues and mental health workers all took part in the meeting. Attendees discussed what is and is not working about the NDIS, their NDIS plans, the impact of the Scheme’s roll out on mental health support organisations and workers, among other issues. The event was held at Lerida, a respite centre for carers and families run by Central Coast ARAFMI and managed by the energetic and committed Rhonda Wilson. ARAFMI Central Coast will use the information they gathered in their submission to the parliamentary inquiry into the implementation of the NDIS and the provision of disability services in NSW.
At the end of the month, the NSW Mental Health Commissioner travelled to Adelaide to attend the annual National Suicide Prevention Conference along with Commission staff members Kerri Lawrence and Victoria Hirst. The team was there to present on their ongoing development of the ‘Strategic Framework for Suicide Prevention in NSW’, which is being created in partnership with NSW Health. Commission staff presented to conference attendees on what communities around NSW have told us is important to help stop suicide, and shared examples of communities who are leading suicide prevention work in their local area.
This month Ms Lourey was also invited by social workers from the Northern Sydney Local Health District’s Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Service to attend their professional development day, which focused on social workers as ‘leaders advocates champions’. Ms Lourey shared with the group a little about the Commission’s work and priorities, and Commission staff member Ashleigh Mills shared her career journey from social worker to policy officer at the Commission.
Other people and organisations the NSW Mental Health Commissioner met with this month include the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine; the Agency for Clinical Innovation; and community members in Sydney passionate about preventing suicide.
Next up in August, the Commissioner will meet with people working on reforms to the forensic mental health system, those working in our juvenile justice system, and travel to the annual TheMHS conference.