Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Brings New Beginnings

Announcement of the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission

Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Brings New Beginnings

1 September 2023.

The new Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission (MHWC) commenced operations today with functions and powers under the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 (the Act).

The establishment of the MHWC is one of the key recommendations of the Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System, and aims to strengthen system leadership, governance and accountability under the new Act.

The MHWC is led by four Commissioners, Chair Commissioner Treasure Jennings, Consumer Commissioner Maggie Toko, Carer Commissioner Jacqueline Gibson, and Commissioner Annabel Brebner. Each of the Commissioners brings profound expertise and lived or living experiences to their role.

Chair Commissioner, Treasure Jennings said the new Commission provided a unique opportunity to have increased oversight of the public mental health system, particularly as it undergoes substantial reform.

“We are determined to ensure the work of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission shines a light on what is working well and the systemic issues that hold back progress and elevates the voices of people with lived experience across the sector as we build our team and capability over the coming months,” said Treasure Jennings.

Carer Commissioner, Jacqueline Gibson said the introduction of two designated Commissioners with Lived Experience was representative of a broader shift towards a system designed by the people who use it.

“Our vision is to see a mental health and wellbeing system that is genuinely and authentically informed by lived experience. People who rely on the system should always be at the forefront of reforms and improvements so they can shape it,” said Jacqueline Gibson.

The MHWC has new scope and powers, including the ability to promote and protect the rights of consumers, families, carers and supporters, monitor and publicly report on the performance, quality and safety of Victoria’s mental health and wellbeing system, obtain and share data and elevate leadership of people with lived experience.

As part of the establishment of the MHWC, the work and functions of the Mental Health Complaints Commissioner (MHCC) were transferred to the new Commission. Any complaints lodged with the MHCC that remained open have been automatically carried over to the new Commission.

Consumer Commissioner, Maggie Toko said the expanded scope and powers of the new Commission provided greater opportunities to drive change in the system.

“The previous Mental Health Complaints Commission could only investigate individual matters where a complaint had been raised which was very limiting. Now we have the ability to investigate matters and conduct broad inquiries into system-wide issues, it’s a real game changer,” said Maggie Toko.

Commissioner Annabel Brebner said the new Commission would also be able to provide a broader view of the performance and progress of the mental health and wellbeing system.

“There is a lot of work to be done in the sector to ensure better data and reporting, including the availability and accessibility of data. Ultimately, this will help us track and report on progress as the system undergoes continued reform,” said Annabel Brebner.

The Commissioners will establish the new commission, including building the team and developing the capability to execute its new functions over the coming year, as well as engage with community members and stakeholders.

“We recognise that many people have a range of views on how the new commission should function and establish its priorities and we intend to listen equally and fairly, but these are not simple questions, and we want to provide answers that are fully considered,” said Treasure Jennings

The establishment of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission represents a significant milestone in reforming Victoria’s public mental health system, as Victoria works towards a more inclusive, connected, and supportive system for consumers, carers and families.

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Read more about the Commissioner's biographies here.