The National Mental Health Consumer Organisation Establishment Project
In 2015, three years of work by consumers to establish a national mental health consumer organisation came to an end when the current government decided not to proceed with funding the project.
This was a bitter disappointment for many consumers across the country.
Increasingly, however, we consumer are asking whether we even want or need government funding. This would come with limits and conflicts of interest, for example.
You can read all about the project and its work at: http://mhconsumer.org.au. We have replicated all the material from that project below – because we have no control over whether this other site will remain online and available to us.
The remainder of this page is all copied directly from: www.mhconsumer.org.au
Home page of the project
The establishment of the national mental health consumer organisation has been driven by mental health consumers – for mental health consumers.
The Project to establish a national mental health consumer organisation commenced in May 2012 and finished at the end of May 2015. The Consumer Reference Group (CRG) and Mental Health Australia (link is external) worked in partnership to develop the foundations for a sustainable organisation built on good governance, governed by and for, people with lived experience of mental illness and mental health issues.
The transition from project to an independent organisation was originally scheduled for September 2014. The National Mental Health Commission’s Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services in 2014 meant that a decision about previously appropriated funding to operationalise the new organisation was put on hold and the transition process delayed. Unfortunately, ongoing funding for the new organisation was not announced in the 2015/16 Federal Budget.
Information about project progress and outcomes is included in recent Communiques. Resources developed by the CRG and Mental Health Australia through the project are available here.
The Project was informed by the Scoping Study to Inform the Establishment of a New Peak National Mental Health Consumer Organisation and the Australian Government response, and funded by the Australian Government (link is external).
This is the Final Communique from the CRG. It signals the completion of National Mental Health Consumer Organisation Establishment Project and calls for your support to (re)build the case for a national organisation, look for opportunities to act and to be involved.
About the project
The National Mental Health Consumer Organisation (NMHCO) Establishment Project worked towards establishing a new national peak organisation for mental health consumers. The purpose of the Project was to build the foundations for a sustainable and credible organisation, supported by good governance and representative of the diversity of people with a lived experience of mental illness.
Project deliverables include a suite of governance and operational resources for a future organisation. The project was completed in May 2015, but not ready to transition to an independent entity without confirmed funding.
Every step of the Project was informed by the Scoping Study to Inform the Establishment of a New Peak National Mental Health Consumer Organisation (link is external)and the Australian Government Response (link is external). The recommendations guide decisions by the Consumer Reference Group (CRG) and the Mental Health Australia (link is external) in regards to establishing good governance.
The original Project Timeline maps out the milestones to make the new organisation strong and sustainable for the long term. With ongoing funding uncertainty, the timing of project actitivies was revised and some elements were not able to be completed by this project (e.g. Board and CEO recruitment, incorporation).
Establishing a sustainable and accountable national mental health consumer organisation takes time. The CRG and Mental Health Australia aimed to make sure that the new organisation would be representative of the diverse voices of people with lived experience of mental illness. Creating the foundations for an organisation that has capacity, flexibility and sustainability to respond to a changing and complex environment was the main objective of the Project.
The Consumer Reference Group (CRG)
In response to calls from mental health consumer leaders, the Australian Government announced funding for a project to establish a new national mental health consumer organisation in July 2011. This decision followed the Scoping Study to Inform the Establishment of a New Peak National Mental Health Consumer Organisation (2010).
In June 2012, the Australian Government appointed a Consumer Reference Group (CRG). All members of the CRG have lived experience of mental health issues. They represented a diverse range of locations, professional fields, and networks from across the country, providing rich knowledge and insight as they contributed to the establishment of the new national mental health consumer organisation. You can find out more about individual members of the CRG on the CRG Members page.
The CRG provided advice to Mental Health Australia (link is external) on all aspects of establishing the new organisation. The CRG were key to ensuring ongoing consumer input and guidance through the duration of the Project.
• advised Mental Health Australia on good governance structures that will serve the organisation in the long term
• made sure people with lived experience of mental illness shaped the new organisation
• communicated and consulted with mental health consumers, government, and stakeholders.
The CRG met regularly with Mental Health Australia for face to face meetings. Their work also continued out of session, through teleconferences, working groups, and email communications. CRG members reached out to their networks to provide information on the Project, and gather feedback to use in their role as CRG members.
The Project also sought to engage the broader consumer community through ongoing consultation and engagement, through means such as surveys on important issues. You can still Register Your Interest to receive updates about project outcomes.
Scoping study to inform the establishment of a new peak national mental health consumer organisation
This report was prepared by Craze Lateral Solutions p/l as part of the national scoping project, a project funded by the (then) Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing.
It presents the ideas, preferences and areas of consensus which emerged throughout the national scoping project for a new peak national mental health consumer organisation. It outlines an approach to organisational development which foreshadows a strong, viable and accountable organisation based on good governance principles and reflecting the need for an organisation which can deliver for and with mental health consumers nationwide.
Draft guide to the organisation and its constitution
The draft Guide provides an overview of the future organisation and its (draft) constitution. Once the organisation is incorporated, the Guide should be revised to reflect the new Board’s decisions about governance and the final constitution, and then made available to members and the general public.
The purpose of the Guide is to:
• describe the role and purpose of the constitution
• provide descriptions and explanations of complex legal terms and phrases
• describe how the constitution is operationalised
• provide explanations relating to membership and the Board (in particular roles and responsibilities)
• describe the role of people with lived experience of mental illness and mental health consumer organisations in the organisation.
A constitution sets out the rights, powers and duties of an incorporated entity, the board, each director, the company secretary, and members.
The draft constitution for the future national mental health consumer organisation has been developed by a legal governance consultant, based on advice from the Consumer Reference Group (CRG), Mental Health Australia, and broad mental health consumer community feedback.
It is provided for the future organisation’s consideration, revision (if necessary), and member endorsement.
Corporate governance manual
The draft Corporate Governance Manual has been developed to support the Board of the future organisation, providing guidance, policy and procedures in accordance with good governance practice. It is sufficiently flexible to adapt to the future organisation’s changing circumstances.
The core content was drafted by a governance consultant, with advice from the Consumer Reference Group (CRG) and Mental Health Australia. Additional content is based on best practice examples and was drafted by Mental Health Australia and the CRG.
The future national mental health consumer organisation must have an inaugural Board to become an incorporated entity.
Draft documents and templates to support inaugural Board recruitment have been developed by governance and recruitment consultants, with input from some of the Consumer Reference Group (CRG) and Mental Health Australia.
The materials could support an open, transparent and merit based selection process. They are provided as templates and should be reviewed, updated and adapted as part of the inaugural Board recruitment process.
Board skills matrix
Nomination Committee Terms of Reference
Board recruitment – content for advertising
Board recruitment – Director application pack
Board recruitment – content for online application form
Board recruitment – example interview questions
Operational Policy and Procedures
The draft Operational Policy and Procedures documents and templates have been developed to support the initial start-up of the future organisation.
Policies and templates are based on best practice examples and apply to administration and daily management of the organisation.
The future organisation will have their own individual requirements and the documents should be reviewed, updated and added to accordingly.
Naming and Branding
The establishment of a strong name and brand will be pivotal to securing the identity of the future national mental health consumer organisation. Importantly, registering a company name with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) is a legal requirement under the Corporations Act 2001.
Naming and branding options have been developed to provide the future Board with the opportunity to select a name and to incorporate the future organisation in a timely manner.
National Stakeholder Workshop Report: 7 March 2014
On 7 March 2014, the CRG and the MHCA hosted a National Stakeholder Workshop in Melbourne. The workshop brought together 12 representatives from mental health consumer focused groups, organisations and peaks from across the country, these were:
NSW Consumer Advisory Group
Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council
Health Consumers Alliance of South Australia
ACT Mental Health Consumer Network
Queensland Voice for Mental Health
Mental Illness Fellowship Australia (National)
National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum (NMHCCF)
Mental Health in Multicultural Australia
Consumers of Mental Health Western Australia
Private Mental Health Consumer Carer Network (Australia)
These stakeholders bought to the workshop an impressive wealth of knowledge and experience of the mental health consumer sector. Through facilitated workshop activities participants engaged in robust and thoughtful discussion about many key issues.
The outcomes of the Workshop are now available. The Report, including recommendations, will be given to the Board of the new Organisation to provide some informed guidance as it makes decisions about strategic directions for the future.
We would like to thank all the Workshop participants for their time and invaluable contributions to the establishment the new national mental health consumer organisation.
Environmental Scan: Craze Lateral Solutions
This Environmental Scan, commissioned by the Mental Health Council of Australia in August 2012, built on the findings of the Scoping Study (2010), providing an update and insight into the current landscape and recommendations with this in mind. Along with the documents of the National Scoping Project, this Report guides and informs the establishment of the new National Mental Health Consumer Organisation.
Read more …
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