Mental Health Complaints Commissioner

Our Advisory Council commences operation

9 November 2016

The inaugural Mental Health Complaints Commissioner Advisory Council has commenced operation.

At their first meeting, members spoke of their motivations for applying, and gained an insight into key areas of our work where they will have the opportunity to share their knowledge and expertise.

Commissioner Lynne Coulson Barr said she was confident that our intensive selection process had ensured our council would be an inclusive and diverse group of people with lived experience of the public mental health system as consumers, carers, family members and service workers.

‘We are pleased to have the opportunity to work collaboratively with such motivated, passionate and dedicated individuals who share our goal of effecting positive change,’ Commissioner Coulson Barr said.

We are particularly pleased that Anthony Stratford has agreed to be the inaugural Chair of the Council, as he brings deep insights from his lived experience, along with broad national and international experience in recovery-oriented practice, research, training and peer led initiatives,’ Commissioner Coulson Barr said.

Mr Stratford spoke of his integral role in establishing our council through a secondment to the MHCC from his position as Senior Adviser – Lived Experience with Mind Australia, and how he is driven by his ‘commitment to seeing recovery-oriented practice embedded into all aspects of mental health treatment and care’.

Psychiatrist Dr Steven Moylan shared his aim of improving the system for all Victorians. ‘Learning about the experiences of consumers and families, both positive and negative, is vital to achieving this aim, and I feel it’s important for the medical profession to show leadership in this area,’ Dr Moylan said.

Carer consultant Annette Mercuri spoke about the negative impact that excluding family and carers from treatment and support can have on families and recovery, as seen through two generations of mental ill health in her family.

‘I’m a strong advocate for consumers, clinicians, and family and carers working together, as research evidence shows that working in partnership provides better outcomes for all,’ Ms Mercuri said.

Rachael Lovelock, who brings her experience in carer consultancy, advocacy and leadership, spoke of her passion for partnerships that provide opportunities for gaining a better understanding of the complex relationship between family members/carers and consumers, and ‘assisting people to create a recovery environment that supports the needs of all’.

Christine Abdelmalek, a psychology student and young person with lived experience, is passionate about youth mental health and is motivated to ensure that young people are given the platform to drive change in an aspect of health where they are significantly affected.

Ms Abdelmalek strongly believes that ‘there is nothing about us, without us’ and hopes to cultivate a youth participatory culture within the MHCC.

Gloria Sleaby spoke of her work in the health sector and in complaints resolution, and of having a family member with lived experience of the mental health system.

‘My experience puts me in a position to make important contributions that might lead to positive change, benefitting consumers and carers,’ Ms Sleaby said.

Hanna Jewell, who brings experience in clinical mental health services, workforce training and family inclusive practice, shared her goal of helping clinicians, consumers, families and services to create change, and ‘exploring ways for improving service responses for people experiencing mental illness and their families’.

Robyn Callaghan spoke of her lived experience, her work in peer led recovery and consultancy, and how she is ‘committed to improving the process for consumers and families to provide feedback or make a complaint about a public mental health service’.

Simon Katterl spoke of how he draws on his lived experience in his work as an advocate, and said he is ‘committed to quality improvement and advocating for recovery-oriented practice and consumer rights to be upheld within the public system’.

Paula Fernandez was unable to attend the meeting, but conveyed her commitment to changing the consumer experience through her work in local complaints resolution in a mental health service.

‘I feel that the voice of the consumer is paramount to learning and determining where change can come about,’ Ms Fernandez said.

For more information about our council, contact our Education and Engagement Officer and Council Secretariat support, Keir Saltmarsh, on 03 9032 3329 or at Keir.Saltmarsh@mhcc.vic.gov.au.

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MHCC Advisory Committee

The MHCC Advisory Council (left to right): Hanna Jewell, Anthony Stratford (Chair), Dr Steven Moylan, Commissioner Lynne Coulson Barr, Rachael Lovelock, Robyn Callaghan, Christine Abdelmalek, Simon Katterl, Gloria Sleaby, Annette Mercuri and Keir Saltmarsh (MHCC Secretariat support)