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Background to the NSW Mental Health Commission

Mental Health Commissions are not a new idea. There are several operating in WA, New Zealand and most recently at the Federal level in Australia. Creating a commission for NSW was an election promise of the Liberal Government. The Minister for Mental Health appointed community members to a Taskforce in May 2011, which had the job of developing the legislation for NSW's Mental Health Commission.

NSWCAG consulted with community members at this stage about what they wanted the Commission to do and how they thought the Commission should communicate with consumers. Our recommendations to the Taskforce were based on our consultations with over 230 consumers throughout NSW.

NSW Mental Health Commission Bill

In November last year, Government introduced legislation to create the Commission which was "agreed to in principal" by the Parliament. The Mental Health Commission Bill will be discussed further in February 2012 when the "agreement in principle" debate occurs. The Minister for Mental Health hopes that the Bill will be passed quickly and would like to see a Commissioner appointed by the beginning of April.

The Taskforce has created a Community and Stakeholder Guide which outlines the legislation.


The Mental Health Commission Bill also sets out five principles:

1. That consumers, regardless of where they live, should have access to the best possible mental health care and support.

2. Consumers, their carers and family members should be treated with dignity and respect.

3. The mental health system should support people who have a mental illness to participate fully in community life and lead meaningful lives

4. Promoting good mental health is the responsibility of the government and non-government sectors

5. An effective mental health system requires all levels of government to work together (health, housing, employment, education and justice) and requires collaboration with consumers, carers and community members.

Main points of the Community and Stakeholder Guide


The Mental Health Commission will be an independent statutory body

The Commission will be led by a full time Commissioner with one or more Deputy Commissioners

 At least one Commissioner will have a lived experience of mental illness

To improve the mental health system, the Commission will:

  • develop a plan for the government and monitor the progress of the plan as it gets put in place
  • Review and report on issues that affect consumers, including about mental health services and programs
  • Improve services for people with a mental illness who have other needs (alcohol and drug problems, intellectual disability)

To do this work, the Commission will:

  • work with a Community Advisory Council that represents consumers and service providers
  • Consult with a range of community members, including consumers

The Commission will not:

  • Hold the budget for mental health services
  • Duplicate what other agencies do


To download the NSW Government's
Community and Stakeholder Guide, click here.


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