The forerunner to the MHSC, the National Mental Health Working Group (NMHWG), was established by the AHMAC in 1991 to oversee the implementation of the National Mental Health Strategy, to provide a forum for cross-jurisdictional information exchange, and to encourage a consistent approach to the implementation of the National Mental Health Strategy. The Group also provided advice to the Australian Government Minister for Health and Aged Care on expenditure of national mental health project funding. Following a review of subcommittees of AHMAC in 2006, the NMHWG was revised and restructured as a subcommittee of the Health Policy Priorities Principal Committee and redesignated the MHSC.
The MHSC reports to the AHMC through AHMAC and the Health Policy Priorities Principal Committee (HPPPC).
The MHSC has a broad role of oversight where significant work is undertaken through various subcommittees. The subcommittees include the:
- Mental Health Information Strategies Subcommittee (MHISS) which is predominantly responsible for expert technical advice on information management
- Safety and Quality Partnership Subcommittee (SQPS) that focuses on mental health safety and quality issues, particularly in association with the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) and Private Mental Health Alliance (PMHA) and
- National Suicide Prevention Working Group (NSPWG) that was formed specifically to progress Actions 12 and 13 of the Fourth Plan that relate to suicide prevention.
- Fourth National Mental Health Plan Implementation – Cross Sectoral Working Group (CSWG) sits alongside the MHSC with shared oversight responsibilities as it is tasked with progressing the implementation of the non-health aspects of the Fourth Plan.
- National Comorbidity Collaboration (NCC) is also not a formal subcommittee of the MHSC but rather is a cooperative mechanism between the MHSC and the Intergovernmental Committee on Drugs to progress comorbidity initiatives.
- The Mental Health Workforce Advisory Council (MHWAC) reports to the Health Workforce Principal Committee (HWPC) but has strong links with the MHSC due to the overlap of activity related to the Fourth Plan, particularly the development of the Mental Health Workforce Strategy (Action 25).
In addition to specialist work conducted by its subcommittee activities, the most significant work being currently undertaken by the MHSC is progressing the implementation of the Fourth Plan and other parallel mental health reform processes. The following sections outline the activity specifically relating to the implementation of the Fourth Plan. Top of page
Figure: Committee structure relevant to MHSC
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