The Commission is led by Professor Allan Fels as Chair and has already met to begin work on a National Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.
Speaking at the official launch in Sydney, the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler said: “The Commission will put Australia’s mental health services under the spotlight. It will bring much needed transparency to our system – it will give us insights into service gaps, where we need to do more and where services are working and working well.
“One of the Commission’s first priorities will be to deliver the first annual National Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention – a key election commitment of the Gillard Government. This is important data that will allow us to monitor whether services are working effectively to deliver lasting outcomes for people with mental illness,” Butler said.
“The new Commission will advocate for the needs of consumers and carers, which should be at the front and centre of policy making. We want to ensure these needs are given the priority they warrant by all levels of government,” Professor Fels said.
"Governments need to do better in mental health. We hope to help them do that by more clearly identifying the gaps in the system.
“Our wide variety of relationships and our independence from the agencies that fund and deliver mental health services will give us a unique perspective from which to provide our public reports and advice.”
The eight Commissioners are:
Mr Peter Bicknell; Ms Jackie Crowe; Dr Pat Dudgeon; Professor Ian Hickie AM; Mr Rob Knowles AO; Ms Janet Meagher AM; Ms Samantha Mostyn; and Professor Ian Webster AO.
The conference will focus on the complex mental issues affecting the elderly including depression, dementia, delirium, paranoid disorders and anxiety. It will also explore the mental health issues of young Australians (aged 18 – 24 years) struggling with schizophrenia, depression, suicidal thoughts, bipolar, anxiety disorders and drug use and drug induced psychosis. With 7% of Australian children and adolescents (aged 0 – 17 years) experiencing mental health problems and only one in four receiving professional health care, a positive change is long overdue.