Royal Commission into Mental Health
A Royal Commission is a major government public inquiry into an important issue. In recent years in Australia, Royal Commissions have involved investigations into police and government corruption, the Black Saturday bushfires, organised crime and child abuse, to name a few. These commissions have forced powerful, and sometimes corrupt public officials to tell the truth.
A Royal Commissioner has a lot of power but is limited to the ‘Terms of Reference’ (ToR) of the Commission. The ToR specify what issues the Royal Commission is required and authorised to inquire into. An issue cannot be considered by a Royal Commission unless it is included in the ToR.
A Royal Commission can provide advice, information, research and recommendations to government about a particular policy problem. The government can make some or all recommendations into law.
Terms of Reference that will guide the Royal Commission into Mental Health
On Sunday, 24 February the Labor Government released the Terms of Reference that will guide the Royal Commission Inquiry into Mental Health. The Terms of Reference have been devised after consultation with experts in the mental health sector and the community. More than 8,000 Victorians made a submission to help shape the Terms of Reference, including AMA Victoria.
TERMS OF REFERENCE
The Royal Commission into Mental Health is required to inquire into and report on the following matters:
1. How to most effectively prevent mental illness and suicide, and support people to recover from mental illness, early in life, early in illness and early in episode, through Victoria’s mental health system, and in close partnership with other services.
2. How to deliver the best mental health outcomes and improve access to and the navigation of Victoria’s mental health system for people of all ages, including through:
2.1 best practice treatment and care models that are safe and person-centred;
2.2 strategies to attract, train, develop and retain a highly skilled mental health workforce, including peer support workers;
2.3 strengthened pathways and interfaces between Victoria’s mental health system and other services;
2.4 better service and infrastructure planning, governance, accountability, funding, commissioning and information sharing arrangements; and
2.5 improved data collection and research strategies to advance continuity of care and monitor the impact of any reforms.
3. How to best support the needs of family members and carers of people living with mental illness.
4. How to improve mental health outcomes, taking into account best practice and person-centred treatment and care models, for those in the Victorian community, especially those at greater risk of experiencing poor mental health, including but not limited to people:
4.1 from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds;
4.2 living with a mental illness and other co-occurring illnesses, disabilities, multiple diagnoses or dual disabilities;
4.3 from rural and regional communities; and
4.4 in contact, or at greater risk of contact, with the forensic mental health system and the justice system.
5. How to best support those in the Victorian community who are living with both mental illness and problematic alcohol and drug use, including through evidence-based harm minimisation approaches.
6. Any other matters necessary to satisfactorily resolve the matters set out in paragraphs 1 – 5.
If you would like to speak to someone about the Terms of Reference, please contact Senior Policy Adviser, Ms Nada Martinovic on: (03) 9280 8773, or email Nada at: email@example.com
Commissioners appointed to lead the Royal Commission into Mental Health
On Sunday, 24 February the Labor Government announced that public policy expert Ms Penny Armytage will Chair the Royal Commission into Mental Health. Ms Armytage has played a leading role in major health and human service sector reform. She has most recently served as the Chair of the Transport Accident Commission and the President of Berry Street.
Ms Armytage will be ably supported by appointed Commissioners:
- Associate Professor Cockram, an Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne’s Department of Psychiatry and a former Chief Executive Officer at Western Health, with 30 years’ experience in health, including clinical and academic experience.
- Professor Fels, former Chair of the National Mental Health Commission and a leading Australian economist and lawyer best known for his role as Chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
- Professor McSherry, an internationally-recognised legal academic in the fields of criminal law and mental health law, and President of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law.
The Commission has committed to deliver a preliminary report by 30 November 2019 and a final report in October 2020.
Register now to attend a community consultation session
The Victorian Government Royal Commission into Mental Health now has a new website: www.rcvmhs.vic.gov.au
The Royal Commission into Mental Health will be visiting communities throughout Victoria in April and May 2019 to hear about people’s experiences with mental health services and their suggestions for change. The full list of community consultation sessions are listed below:
- Friday 5 April 2019 - Whittlesea
- Tuesday 9 April 2019 - Pakenham
- Thursday 11 April 2019 - Friday 12 April 2019 - Hamilton
- Monday 15 April 2019 - Geelong
- Tuesday 16 April 2019 - Ballarat
- Wednesday 17 April 2019 - Sunshine
- Wednesday 1 May 2019 - Mildura
- Wednesday 1 May 2019 - Swan Hill
- Friday 3 May 2019 - Melbourne
- Tuesday 7 May 2019 - Dandenong
- Wednesday 8 May 2019 - St Kilda
- Wednesday 8 May 2019 - Preston
- Thursday 9 May 2019 - Werribee
- Thursday 9 May 2019 - Melbourne CBD
- Tuesday 14 May 2019 - Healesville
- Tuesday 14 May 2019 - Seymour
- Thursday 16 May 2019 - Shepparton
- Friday 17 May 2019 - Bendigo
- Tuesday 21 May 2019 - Sale
- Wednesday 22 May 2019 - Warragul
Consultation sessions are open to anyone. This includes people living with mental illness, their families and carers, people working in the sector and those who have an interest in improving mental health outcomes. To register your interest in attending a community consultation session, please click here: https://rcvmhs.vic.gov.au/whats-happening-now
This is just the beginning of the Royal Commission’s work.
Timeline for progress of Royal Commission Inquiry
The Victorian Government Royal Commission into Mental Health has also announced a Timeline, click here to read more: https://rcvmhs.vic.gov.au/our-approach
These are indicative milestones for the conduct of the Royal Commission:
- community consultations
- written submissions by email and post
- submissions through audio recordings, videos and over the phone
- contributions through online forums, including discussion groups and social media
- stakeholder and expert roundtables
- site visits
- data and documentation provided by key agencies (including government and researchers)
The Royal Commission will provide recommendations to the Victorian Government by October 2020. The Victorian Government has already committed to implementing every recommendation from the Royal Commission.
You also have the option to sign up to receive further updates from the Royal Commission - rcvmhs.vic.gov.au/contact-us
Royal Commission into Mental Health – Call for submissions now open
The Victorian Government Royal Commission into Mental Health is now accepting submissions.
Formal submissions are open until 5 July 2019.
We invite our members to please email any feedback to the Terms of Reference directly to Nada: firstname.lastname@example.org, to help shape AMA Victoria's written response to the Commission.
Individuals are also encouraged to submit a response. You may wish to submit a response as an individual doctor, or consumer of mental health services. The Commission has outlined 11 key questions to support individuals to submit their response.
To read more, please click here.