Media Release: Productivity Commission Inquiry supports major reform for mental health consumers
The National Mental Health Consumer Alliance welcomes the recommendation from the
Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health for lived experience representation at a
Irene Gallagher, CEO of BEING – Mental Health Consumers (NSW) stated, “this is a
significant step forward for the National Mental Health Consumer Alliance, and a big
win for our consumer/survivor movement who have been advocating for a national
consumer peak body.”
In an enormous step forward, the report states “…the rights of consumers, in conjunction
with the individuality of the consumer experiences, create a case for there being a peak body
for consumers at a national level that is separate to the representation of carers.
While the report acknowledged there are already various state and national organisations
which advocate for mental health consumers and carers, it specifically noted the importance
of these voices being acknowledged and heard as separate.
The report goes on, “While consumers and carers often share similar experiences, this is not
always the case. And even where they have similar experiences, consumers and carers bring
different perspectives and perceptions to those experiences.”
The report states: “The recognised rights of consumers, in conjunction with the individuality
of the consumer experiences, create a case for there being a peak body for consumers at a
national level that is separate to the representation of carers.”
Australia’s adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disability in 2006 has
supported efforts for consumers to be able exercise autonomy and independence, including
the freedom to make their own choices on an equal basis with others. Australia’s National
Standards for Mental Health Services recognise the right for consumers to involve or not
involve carers and to independently determine who represents their view.
“The need for a national peak consumer organisation has been called for by the consumer
movement for many years, and the recognition of the National Mental Health Consumer
Alliance in the report is significant progress toward this goal” said Shauna Gaebler, CEO of
Consumers of Mental Health WA.
The role of the Productivity Commission was to provide independent research and advice to
the Government on economic, social and environmental issues affecting the welfare of
Australians, the Productivity Commission’s inquiry report into Mental Health was publicly
released today. The final report was handed to the Australian Government on 30 June 2020
and publicly released on 16 November 2020.
The report discusses some key influences on people’s mental health, examines the effect of
mental health on people’s ability to participate and prosper in the community and workplace,
and implications more generally for our economy and productivity.
It should be noted there is an existing national peak organisation focused solely on the
needs of carers (Mental Health Carers Australia), however there has not been a government
supported or funded national mental health consumer peak organisation. The National
Mental Health Consumer Alliance operates solely as a result of the generosity of each
member organisation to fund its activities.
Ellie Hodges, Executive Director of LELAN in SA says, “The establishment of a national peak
consumer body must be led by, with and for consumers in each state, and the state mental
health consumer peaks are key to bringing this lens together through the National Mental
Health Consumer Alliance”.
The National Mental Health Consumer Alliance does welcome the suggestion to allocate 5-
year funding to the state peak organisations and will assist in the longer term richness of
advocacy that the current mental health consumer peaks currently do.
Media enquiries can be directed to Leonie Fraser, Marketing and Communications
Officer on 1300 234 640 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download the media release here.
About the National Mental Health Consumer Alliance
After many years of discussion and at the request of consumers across Australia, in
November 2019 a National Mental Health Consumer Alliance was formed between
CoMHWA (Consumers of Mental Health WA), VMIAC (The Victorian Mental Illness
Awareness Council), BEING – Mental Health Consumers NSW, and South Australia
Lived Experience Leadership and Advocacy Network (LELAN). Led and owned by these
state peak bodies the National Mental Health Consumer Alliance was established to
influence, lead and advocate on behalf of people who experience mental health issues.
This media release has been formulated by BEING – Mental Health Consumers (NSW),
CoMHWA (WA), LELAN (SA), and VMIAC (VIC).