Attendees
Karen Burns, Martin Cohen, Elizabeth Hewitt (Mental Health Commission), Fay Jackson, Catherine Lourey (NSW Mental Health Commissioner), Julie Robotham (NSW Mental Health Commission), Robyn Shields, Allan Sparkes.

Secretariat
Louis Parry (Mental Health Commission).

Guests
Cathy Baker (Mental Health Commission), Jenny Crocker (Mental Health Commission), Kerri Lawrence (Mental Health Commission), Liz Story (Mental Health Commission). 

1.    Acknowledgments

Robyn Shields provided an acknowledgement of country. Fay Jackson provided an acknowledgement of people with lived experience of mental illness. 

As part of this the recent death of Ms Jackie Crowe was noted. Ms Crowe was a Commissioner with the National Mental Health Commission and a long-time champion for the rights of people with lived experience, and her death was noted with sadness by all. 

2.    Overview from the Commissioner

Catherine Lourey provided an update on the work of the Commission. Points raised included:

  • The Commissioner met recently with the Minister. Topics discussed include:

    • The current statutory review of the Mental Health Act
    • A potential review of Living Well
    • The potential for accountability and review to be strengthened
  • The suicide prevention framework
  • The internal functional review of the Commission
  • Strategic Priority planning and the development of an internal strategic plan for the Commission. 

3.    Deputy Commissioners’ update

The Deputy Commissioners each provided an update on their work in the time since the previous meeting. 

  • Attendees discussed the issue of people affected by the drug ice, and its impact on patients and staff in mental health wards in hospital.
  • Robyn discussed the inappropriate use of the Mental Health Act 2007, and the after-hours use of psychiatrists rather than drug and alcohol staff for people affected by ice. 
  • Allan met with the Minister for Mental Health to discuss the Police Reconditioning Unit (Recon unit), which is having significant positive results in relation to physical and also psychological injury, and that they should be replicated, possibly across the public sector. 
  • Allan also spoke about his visit to Canada to look at two programs of the Canadian Mental Health Commission – The Working Mind (for the public and private sectors), and the Road to Mental Readiness (R2MR) (for first responders). The core of the program is a ‘mental health continuum’. 
    • The programs make it simple for people to express that they are unwell, and takes away the stigma 
    • These programs have the potential to change the culture of mental ill health
    • The Menta Health Coordinating Council (MHCC) has also developed programs for school students and for university students 
    • The programs empower people to get healthy'.
  • Robyn spoke about her current work with Dr Murray Wright reviewing seclusion and restraint. 
  • Robyn also spoke about the recent construction of internal walls in hospitals to prevent people absconding. 
  • Robyn also spoke about the Minister’s recent announcement of funding for innovative projects. 
  • Martin spoke about the use of the powerful sedative droperidol while transporting people by ambulance.
  • Fay spoke about her visit to Finland, and the work that is being done in an open and generous way, and the prevention of the need for people with mental illness to be treated in a hospital setting.
  • Fay spoke about her visit to Goulburn Hospital, and her visit to Lismore Hospital. 
  • Karen spoke about the Housing and Accommodation Support Initiative (HASI) re-tender, and the retirement of Jenna Bateman as Chief Executive Officer of the MHCC (NSW).
  • Martin has been getting involved where needed, and will participate in a community visit.

4.    Charter Letter

Catherine Lourey spoke about the Charter Letter, which has been sent to all Deputy Commissioners, by email. 

5.    Reporting on/monitoring Living Well

Karen Burns and Cathy Baker spoke about the Commission’s reporting on Living Well. The draft report gives mixed results against the indicators. 

6.    National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership in Mental Health (NATSILMH)

Julie Robotham and Liz Story spoke about the Commission’s work with NATSILMH. The purpose of the group is to advise the Commission (and others), and to be part of the conversation around mental health issues as they affect Aboriginal people.  

7.    Mapping project 

Julie Robotham spoke about the Commission’s Aboriginal mental health policy mapping project, conducted by Cox Inall Ridgeway. Information provided included: 

  • The mapping and review project looked at mental health policies in NSW that have a direct and immediate impact on Aboriginal mental health.
  • The project looked at key Government departments. The researchers reviewed all public policies available online, and interviewed some staff members. 
  • Overall, the project identified that there were vast differences between portfolio areas in their public policy development and commitments to Aboriginal mental health. 
  • There is a disparity between programs that address Aboriginal mental health and the policies designed to support them. 
  • Across NSW there are many well-functioning and innovative programs and initiatives, but these are not always anchored in a policy directive.
  • Many policies mention Aboriginal communities, but the level of detail provided is not comprehensive.
  • The role of carers and consumers in policy development or review appears to be very limited. 
  • Recommendations from the project include engagement with key Government departments; engagement with carers and consumers; and engagement with experts in Aboriginal mental health.

8.    Short videos 

Julie Robotham and Liz Story gave a presentation on the Commission’s recently produced short videos on Profiling best practice, available in a Playlist on the Commission’s YouTube channel.

9.    Suicide Prevention Framework

Kerri Lawrence gave a presentation on the Commission’s Suicide Prevention Framework. Information provided includes:

  • The Minister has asked the Commission to draft a framework for suicide prevention in NSW.
  • A lot of work has been done by the Suicide Prevention Advisory Group (SPAG). 
  • The guiding principles will be presented to the Minister in November 2017. 
  • The Commission will work on developing the framework over the next 12 months. 

10.    Community visits

  • Catherine Lourey spoke about the Commission’s upcoming community visits to Wagga Wagga, Griffith and Fairfield. 
  • Catherine also mentioned potential future community visits, and asked for suggestions of locations and themes. Allan suggested visiting Moree, Walgett, Brewarrina and Bourke. 
  • Catherine said there is potential for holding Deputy Commissioners’ visits in the community. 

11.    Any other business

  • Allan said that he would like the term ‘mental health’ changed to something that does not attract stigma. 
  • Fay said that she does not like the use of the term ‘mental illness’. 

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Last updated: 2 July 2018