BEING – Mental Health Consumers is calling on decision makers in NSW to reflect on recommendations by the Victorian Mental Health Royal Commission, which released its final report today. The Royal Commission found key systemic problems which are mirrored in NSW including an overburdened system that operates in crisis mode, where the perspectives of people with lived experience of mental illness or psychological distress are often overlooked.
BEING – Mental Health Consumers welcomes the publication of the final report of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental health system and acknowledges the courage of those sharing their personal stories with the Commission. We would like to congratulate the Royal Commission on having integrated so many diverse voices into their final report, which provides an overview of the many challenges faced by people living with mental health issues in Victoria.
Amongst the 65 recommendations from the final report and 9 recommendations from the interim report are interwoven the many issues with the system, which many would say is ‘broken’.
The Royal Commission’s final report makes strong statements such as “Catastrophically fails to live up to expectations” and “The present system is not designed or equipped to support the diverse needs of people living with mental illness of psychological distress, families, cares and supporters, let alone to cope with unforeseen pressures that may arise”.
While we appreciate the inclusion of ‘Safe Spaces’ and ‘crisis respite facilities’ (recommendation 9), and ‘developing system-wide roles for the full and effective participation of people with lived experience of mental illness or psychological distress’ (recommendation 28), the most impressive and innovative approach of the report lies in ‘the creation of a new agency led by people with lived experience of mental illness or psychological distress’ (recommendation 29). Congratulations to the Royal Commission for listening to our survivor movement and acknowledging such important contributions peer work and consumer leadership bring to peoples lives. Other important factors in the report include phasing out of seclusion and restraint over the next decade, reroute of calls to ambulances rather than police, and addressing gender-based violence in mental health facilities.
While we congratulate the Victorian Government for taking such steps to establish a Royal Commission, we call on the NSW Government to investigate our current system to ensure accountability of services to the people who access them. BEING – Mental Health Consumers CEO, Irene Gallagher, states “there is a disparity between the perspectives of decision makers such as Governments and people who access mental health services. Our survivor movement has been calling for change yet little is being done to bring about reform. We need action and we need it now”.
While we note the findings tabled in this report relate specifically to Victoria’s Mental Health System, we strongly suggest the NSW Government could well take their cue from the resulting recommendations. There is an opportunity here for NSW government to take a more proactive approach to mental health system reform, without waiting to be prompted by a Royal Commission in this state.
Notable Recommendations from the Royal Commission Report:
Developing ‘safe spaces’ and crisis respite facilities
Supporting responses from emergency services to mental health crises
Addressing gender-based violence in mental health facilities
Establishing a new Statewide Trauma Service
Supported housing for adults and young people living with mental illness
Developing system-wide roles for the full and effective participation of people with lived experience of mental illness or psychological distress
A new agency led by people with lived experience of mental illness or psychological distress
Key Systemic Problems Identified in the Report:
Page numbers refer to the Executive Summary here
- Demand has overtaken capacity – Pg 8
- Community Based Services are undersupplied – Pg 8
- The system has become imbalanced with an over-reliance on medication – Pg 8
- There is a missing middle – Pg 8
- Getting help is difficult – Pg 8
- Access to services is not equitable – Pg 10
- The system is driven by crisis – Pg 10
- Emergency departments are used as entry points – Pg 10
- There is a patchwork of services that do not reflect local needs – Pg 10
- Services are poorly integrated – Pg 11
- The perspectives and experiences of people with lived experience of mental illness or psychological distress are overlooked – Pg 11
- Families carers and supporters are left out – Pg 11
- There is not enough focus on the promotion of good mental health and wellbeing – Pg 11
- Communities and places do not adequately support good mental health and wellbeing – Pg 12
- There is limited focus on the early years – Pg 12
- Younger people are adversely affected – Pg 12
- There is a substantial service gap for older Victorians – Pg 12
- Trauma is unseen – Pg 12
- The focus on personal recovery needs to be strengthened – Pg 12
- Culturally safe services are not always available to Aboriginal communities in Victoria – Pg 13
- Some groups face further barriers – Pg 13
- Mental illness can be compounded by housing instability – Pg 13
- People in the criminal justice system do not get the support they need – Pg 16
- The experience of poor mental health and wellbeing is different in rural and regional areas – Pg 16
- Stigma and discrimination are ever present – Pg 16
- Good mental health and wellbeing are not given priority – Pg 16
- Suicide is far-reaching – Pg 16
- The system’s foundations need reform – Pg 16
- Investment in the system is inadequate – Pg 17
- Regulation and oversight is complex and unclear – Pg 17
- Dignity is often disregarded and human rights are breached – Pg 18
- The workforce is under-resourced – Pg 18
- The value of lived experience work is starting to be recognised, but faces challenges – Pg 18
- The system is antiquated – Pg 18
For further information on BEING – Mental Health Consumers’ work and our programs please visit being.org.au or phone Leonie Fraser, Marketing and Communications Manager, on 1300 234 640.