Allison Kokany

Allison Kokany (centre). 

29 May 2018

The staff of the Mental Health Commission of New South Wales extend our deep condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the remarkable Allison (Ally) Kokany, who passed away last weekend. 
Ms Kokany was a long time consumer advocate and worker, who spent decades working to achieve a better, fairer and kinder world for people who live with mental illness. She began her career as a consumer advocate in Newcastle and went on to hold many positions, including serving as chairperson of the NSW Consumer Advisory Group (NSW CAG, now known as Being) for six years; as the NSW Consumer representative on the National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum (NMHCCF); and most recently as a consumer consultant at WentWest Primary Health Network – to name but a few. Ms Kokany’s nomination to the NMHCCF is a testament to the high esteem in which she was held by her peers, and to her commitment to improving mental health care not just for those in her local area, but for all Australians. 
In her capacity as chairperson of the NSW CAG at the time of the Mental Health Commission of New South Wales’s establishment, Ms Kokany helped advise the NSW Minister for Mental Health about what role the Commission needed to fulfil; used her lived experience to provide mental health training to Commission staff; and was among a small leadership group who helped to lay the groundwork for the Commission’s Lived Experience Framework project, which is ongoing. She was also a passionate defender of the rights of people in the forensic mental health system, evidence of her guiding belief in the need to improve the lives of our community’s most stigmatised and vulnerable.   
In addition to her vast professional achievements, staff of the Commission will remember Ms Kokany for her friendliness, her generosity with her time, and her down to earth nature - including an abiding love of cheese sandwiches.
In the words of fellow reform leader Janet Meagher AM, Ms Kokany was “a powerhouse of advocacy”. May she rest in peace and her legacy be longlasting. 
WentWest Primary Health Network has announced they will establish the Allison Kokany Scholarship to support people with lived experience to carry  on Allison’s important work. Further details of the scholarship should be available on the WestWest website in coming weeks. 

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Last updated: 10 November 2020