In John’s media release announcing his farewell he talks about the achievements the Commission has made since its establishment in July 2012 and the people he has worked with. During this time we want to reflect on how the Commission started, and John’s involvement in setting up an organisation which has been an anchor in driving mental health reform.

The Commission was established as a result of widespread consultation with the community, including people with lived experience, their families and carers, clinicians, policy makers, organisations and the general community. It was widely acknowledged that mental health reform needed to happen and a peak body that can drive and monitor this change in the NSW mental health system needed to be established. It was also important to have an organisation that can flow across other sectors and take a whole of life approach.

The Mental Health Commission was established and in August 2012, John was appointed for his five-year term. From the very beginning, he prioritised lived experience by beginning his term with visits throughout NSW, and in September 2012, he brought over Sage Green and Susan Horsley from, as we were previously known, NSW CAG to work at the Commission.

One of the milestones in John’s term and since the development of the Commission was the Living Well: A Strategic Plan for Mental Health in NSW 2014-2024. This document maps the agenda for reform of the mental health system in NSW and was endorsed by the NSW Government.  It was officially launched by the then NSW Premier, Mike Baird in 2014.

Again, thank you to John for his focus and dedication in his term and for ensuring lived experience was central to reform during his time as Commissioner.

As John says, I am glad the Commission has been able to start a different public conversation, in which the capacity of people who experience mental illness is acknowledged and celebrated, and wellbeing for everyone is recognised as a legitimate goal” – John Feneley 2017