Today I asked the inaugural Minister for Mental Health, the Hon Mark Butler, about the planned timing for re-establishing a national mental health consumer peak body for Australia. This opportunity resulted from a Canberra forum held by the Minister from 1:30pm – 4:00pm, which was organized by the Mental Health Council of Australia.
Minister Butler acknowledged that mental health consumer advocate Janet Meagher AM had recently discussed this same issue with him and that as a result he was subsequently provided with a brief on the subject. He referenced the related work completed by Craze Lateral Solutions, stressed that he recognizes the importance of re-establishing a peak national consumer body and assured the forum attendees that a decision on the exact model for such an organization was to be made.
I had to smile because it was Janet Meagher who had also put the bug in my ear about how long it was taking to re-establish the national mental health consumer peak.
Judy Bentley, a prominent mental health carer advocate, urged the Minister to also establish a peak carer body for mental health. Minister Bulter stated that he understood the need for such a body but offered that its progress was not as advanced as the consumer peak because no scoping study had yet been undertaken on such an initiative.
Appropriately, Minister Butler was congratulated at the conclusion of the form for providing the chance for mental health consumers, carers and professionals to address what is working in mental health, identify gaps in service which warrant attention, and recommend key changes.