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Mental health royal commissioners announced

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The inquiry Commissioners for the mental health royal commission have been revealed, with public policy expert Penny Armytage and peak body Chair Allan Fels at the helm.

Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, announced Armytage and Fels would work along-side Associate Professor Alex Cockram and Professor Bernadette McSherry to review the mental health system. Labor has already committed to seeing through their plans.

Andrews said: “The mental health system is in so many ways broken and that through a royal commission, our highest and most formal way of making inquiry into important issues, can we hope to have the answers and a plan to move us forward.

“Until we acknowledge that and set a course to find those answers and practical plan for the future, people will continue to die, people will be forever diminished.”

Armytage has played a leading role in major health and human service sector reform, and has most recently served as Chair of the Transport Accident Commission. Fels is the former Chair of the National Mental Health Commission and is best known for his role as Chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

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Cockram has 30 years’ experience in health and is Associate Director at the University of Melbourne, as well as a former Chief Executive Officer at Western Health. McSherry is an internationally-recognised legal academic in criminal and mental health law.

“This is a once in a generation opportunity to develop positive framework for the reform of our mental health services and to address this issue,” Armytage said.

The terms of reference have been set to examine how to prevent suicide and perform reviews of the system to help sufferers and their families. Labor committed they would implement each of the Commissioner’s recommendations at the end of 2020.

“We don’t have all the answers to mental health,” Andrews said. “That’s why we are drawing on the experts who know the sector best and the Victorians who have lived experiences to help us find them.”

Andrews said the Commissioners would provide practical steps forward after a review found more than 8,000 Victorians had made a submission towards the terms, with 23 roundtables of mental health experts and sufferers to inform guidelines.

Minister for Health, Martin Foley, said: “One in five Victorians will experience mental illness this year, and too many of those who lose their lives to suicide. We need a new approach to mental health, and a Royal Commission will help deliver a new system.”

The commission will deliver a preliminary report on November 30 of this year, with the final report to be published in October 2020.


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