The National Mental Health Commission (the Commission) is an independent executive agency under the Public Service Act 1999 and a non-corporate Commonwealth Entity under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. The Commission is part of the Minister for Health’s portfolio and reports directly to the Minister for Health. We also meet with the Prime Minister and the Minister for Health.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is the accountable authority under the Public Governance, Performance, and Accountability Act 2013 and is responsible for the governance and performance of the Commission. The Commission’s Advisory Board includes a Chair and a number of Mental Health Commissioners (as determined by the Minister from time to time) and includes the CEO for the term of her appointment.
The Commission’s role and functions are to support the Australian Government to deliver an efficient, integrated and sustainable mental health system to improve mental health outcomes for Australians and help prevent suicide. The Commission’s budgeted outcome is to provide expert advice to the Australian Government and cross-sectoral leadership on the policy, programs, services and systems that support mental health in Australia, including through administering the Annual National Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, undertaking performance monitoring and reporting and engaging consumers and carers.1
The Commission’s purpose is to monitor and report on investment in mental health and suicide prevention initiatives, provide evidence based policy advice to Government and disseminate information on ways to continuously improve Australia’s mental health and suicide prevention systems, and act as a catalyst for change to achieve those improvements. This includes increasing accountability and transparency in mental health through the provision of independent reports and advice to the Australian Government and the community.
The Commission seeks to ensure that investment in mental health is both effective and efficient. We work with stakeholders – particularly with people with lived experience, their families and other support people – to ensure reforms are collectively owned and actioned. The Commission acknowledges that engaging stakeholders and facilitating meaningful participation is essential to achieving transformational change.
The Commission seeks to engage with people with a lived experience of mental health issues, including carers and other support people, in all areas of our work. We affirm the right of all people to participate in decisions that affect their care and to determine the conditions that enable them to live contributing lives. Diverse and genuine engagement with people with lived experience, their families and other support people adds value to decision-making by providing direct knowledge about the actual needs of the community, which results in better targeted and more responsive services and initiatives.
Throughout our existence, we have applied the Contributing Life framework to our work – a whole-of-person, whole-of-system, whole-of-life approach to mental health and wellbeing.
A contributing life can mean many things. It can mean a fulfilling life enriched with close connections to family and friends; good health and wellbeing to allow those connections to be enjoyed; having something to do each day that provides meaning and purpose – whether it be a job, supporting others or volunteering; and a home to live in, free from financial stress and uncertainty. In short, it means thriving, not just surviving.
We will work to support individuals to: live a contributing life; have equitable opportunity; have the best possible mental health and wellbeing; participate in community, education and employment; have knowledge, assurance and respect; and be able to contribute to socially and economically thriving communities.
Indigenous people have significantly higher rates of mental distress, trauma, suicide and intentional self-harm, as well as exposure to risk factors such as stressful life events, family breakdown, unemployment, racism, discrimination, imprisonment, crime victimisation and alcohol and substance misuse. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and social and emotional wellbeing is a priority across all our key work areas.
The Commission will facilitate collaboration across all sectors to promote mental health and prevent mental illness and suicide – this includes health, housing, human services, income support, justice, education, employment, defence, veterans’ affairs and the broader system to maximise outcomes and integrate service provision.
The Chair and Commissioners, who bring a range of expertise and perspectives, provide strategic direction and independent advice which reflects the evidence they gather from the community, research and data. They are committed to giving a voice to the experiences of people living with mental health difficulties or suicide risk and their families and support people.
 Portfolio Budget Statements Program 1.1 2018-19 Health Portfolio, Portfolio Budget Statements, p.411