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Towards a successful Mental Health Royal Commission

VCOSS submission to the Royal Commission into Mental Health Terms of Reference Consultation.

People have high expectations of the Royal Commission. In particular, VCOSS members desire the Royal Commission to have a broad scope, allowing them to assess a wide variety of evidence to determine the most effective means of improving the mental health of Victorians, observing that many useful changes may lie beyond the mental health system. They desire a future-focused inquiry identifying best practice.

Victoria’s mental health system was once the envy of Australia. We were the first to take people with mental illness out of institutions and care for them in the community. The Royal Commission provides an opportunity to build on this legacy, and again place Victoria at the forefront of mental health in the nation.

VCOSS members are united in the view that the Royal Commission must prominently feature the voices of people with lived experience, their families and carers. Many people with lived experience of mental illness want to tell their stories, including the trauma they experienced in the mental health system. The Commissioners can adopt trauma-informed approaches to gathering evidence.

VCOSS consulted with 85 people from our member organisations about the Royal Commission Terms of Reference in January 2019. The group was diverse, and comprised of people from service delivery organisations, peak bodies and people with lived experience, their families and carers. VCOSS has used this feedback to inform its submission on the Terms of Reference. It also draws on our experiences and the lessons from the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

The Royal Commission into Mental Health presents a once in a lifetime opportunity to promote a mentally healthy Victoria, and change the way that people experiencing mental ill-health are supported. VCOSS looks forward to working with the Royal Commission into Mental Health, hoping the Commission will set out an ambitious but achievable plan for a new approach to mental wellbeing.

 

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