Consumer and carer participation

The important role of the mental health consumer and carer sector in the development, implementation and evaluation of policies, programs and services is recognised and supported by all governments under the National Mental Health Strategy.

Page last updated: 12 March 2014

Representation at a national level
Establishing the new national mental health consumer organisation

Representation at a national level

The Department of Health and state and territory government departments fund the Mental Health Council of Australia (MHCA)1 to auspice the National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum (NMHCCF). This funding supports consumer and carer participation in policy and program development at a national level. The MHCA and the NMHCCF have established an application and selection process that the department accesses when seeking mental health consumer and carer representatives for its committees and other like activities.

The department also funds the MHCA to operate the National Register of Mental Health Consumer and Carer Representatives. The register complements the NMHCCF and provides access to a wider number of representatives for national level activities. The register also provides its members with opportunities for further development and networking.

1 If you are unable to access MHCA's website, please email the MHCA,

Establishing the new national mental health consumer organisation

The 2011-12 federal budget package, Delivering National Mental Health Reform, includes the commitment to create a new national mental health consumer organisation.
The participation of people with lived experience of mental illness is central to informing mental health reform. Once fully established, the national mental health consumer organisation will be dedicated to involving a diversity of mental health consumer groups, organisations and individuals, and representing a wide cross-section of experiences and views, in particular those views which are often under-represented.

The new organisation will work towards a shared vision so that a strong and consolidated consumer voice can contribute to more responsive and accountable mental health reform. This will include complementing the work of the National Mental Health Commission that is assessing system performance.

Mental health consumers can register their interest by visiting the Mental health consumer organisation website.

Planning and implementation

To commence with laying the foundations of the new organisation, the government announced the Mental Health Council of Australia (MHCA) as auspice body (see the video message from the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing on the Mental Health Consumer Organisation website). The government also announced membership of the Mental Health Consumer Reference Group (CRG) which has been convened to provide advice to the MHCA on planning and implementation of the new organisation. The CRG will assist in ensuring the voices and views of consumers are front and centre in informing this project. The CRG was appointed following a national call for expressions of interest. Over one hundred expressions of interest were received. Thank you to all the individuals who responded.

Through a collaborative effort, the MHCA and CRG will work together to establish a strong, diverse and inclusive membership base, embed strong governance and an ethos of sustainability, and arrange appropriate mechanisms to ensure mental health consumers are involved throughout the process.

The CRG holds regular meetings.

For CRG meeting communiques and more information about the project for establishing the new National Mental Health Consumer Organisation, progress to date and how to get involved, a project website has been set up.

Scoping study to inform the establishment of a new peak national mental health consumer organisation

The final report of the scoping study to inform the establishment of a new peak national mental health consumer organisation has been central to informing the government's approach to establishing the new organisation, and, together with the Australian Government response, is a touchstone for the CRG and MHCA in setting up the foundations for the new organisation.

The aim is to have an independent organisation built upon strong organisational governance and sustainable structures. A staged approach and robust governance are key messages from the scoping study.

Page last reviewed: 25 March 2013