15 January 2019


NSW Mental Health Commissioner Catherine Lourey today welcomed the announcement of eight part-time Deputy Commissioners, with the appointment of six new Deputy Commissioners and the re-appointment of Allan Sparkes CV, OAM, VA and Conjoint Associate Professor Martin Cohen.

Under the Mental Health Commission Act 2012, Deputy Commissioners are appointed by the Governor of NSW for a three-year term and at least one of the Deputy Commissioners or the Commissioner is to have a personal experience of mental health issues. The role of the Deputy Commissioners is to support the Commission and the community by highlighting the critical issues that impact the mental health and wellbeing of people in NSW and work collaboratively to develop and implement priorities for reform.

The new part-time Deputy Commissioners are Tom Brideson, Daniel Angus, Jenna Roberts Toni Garretty, Tim Heffernan and Pam Rutledge. Commissioner Lourey congratulated them on their appointments.

“I am thrilled about the appointment of the new Deputy Commissioners and know that they will bring great strength to mental health reform in NSW. The depth of experience and expertise held by each of them will enhance the Commission’s key work in advocacy, strategic planning, and monitoring and reporting on mental health improvement across NSW,” Ms Lourey said.

The new part-time Deputy Commissioners will bring extensive expertise and experience from a range of sectors influencing mental health and wellbeing. Their collective insights cover lived experience of mental health issues and caring, suicidality, clinical supports, service management, peer work, Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing, mental health of young people and LGBTIQ+ people, the role of Primary Health Networks, and leadership in the community managed sector.

“I am delighted that Allan Sparkes and Martin Cohen will continue in their Deputy Commissioner roles for another term. Their leadership, expertise and contributions to date have been outstanding.”

“Allan and Martin along with our recently farewelled Deputy Commissioners Dr Robyn Shields, Fay Jackson and Karen Burns have been instrumental in the development of the Commission’s five-year strategic plan - Key Directions 2018-2023, and they are highly respected in the community,” Ms Lourey said.

These eight part-time Deputy Commissioners will be joining full-time Deputy Commissioner Tania Skippen, and the rest of the Commission’s Executive and Leadership team in contributing strategic advice and expertise to the development of the Commission’s work. An important focus of this in 2019 will be the mid-term review of Living Well.



Media enquiries:
Lisa Sandrk | E: lisa.sandrk@mhc.nsw.gov.au | P: 02 9859 5228 | M: 0421 067 953
Full bios of the Deputy Commissioners available on Commission website.

About the Mental Health Commission of New South Wales
The Mental Health Commission of NSW was established under the Mental Health Commission Act 2012 and came into operation on 1 July 2012. The Commission is an independent statutory agency responsible for monitoring, reviewing and improving mental health and wellbeing for people in NSW. The Commission works with government and the
community to secure better mental health and wellbeing for everyone, and to ensure the availability of appropriate supports in or close to home when people are unwell or at risk of becoming unwell. In all its work, the Commission is guided by the lived experience of people with lived experience of mental health issues and caring, their families and kinship groups.
Support services
If this story raises concerns or distress for you or someone you know, the following services are available to provide support and assistance:
NSW Mental Health Line: 1800 011 511
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800

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Last updated: 15 January 2019