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Mental Health Commission appointments strengthen suicide prevention plan

Three new members have been appointed to the National Mental Health Commission’s Advisory Board to further strengthen the Government’s focus on youth mental health and suicide prevention.

The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Former Minister for Health and Aged Care

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Three new members have been appointed to the National Mental Health Commission’s Advisory Board to further strengthen the Government’s focus on youth mental health and suicide prevention.

The new Commissioners are Mr Alan Woodward, Ms Niharika Hiremath, and Dr Elizabeth-Ann Schroeder.

The National Mental Health Commission provides advice to Government on ways to continuously improve mental health and suicide prevention, and reports on ongoing reforms of the mental health system in Australia.

It works across all areas that promote mental health and prevent mental illness and suicide, not only in health but related areas such as education, housing, employment, human services and social services.

The new commissioners were appointed for their experience in leading, collaborating, advising and reporting in aspects of mental health and suicide prevention.

Ms Hiremath’s lived experience with mental illness led to a passion for understanding and reducing the stigma of mental illness, especially in ethnically diverse communities.

She works with headspace’s Youth National Reference Group to ensure that young people’s voices are included in the development of new mental health initiatives.

Dr Schroeder is a Senior Lecturer and Senior Research Fellow in health economics at Macquarie University. She has extensive local and international experience in applied research in the economics of complex public health interventions, including mental health and suicide prevention.

Mr Woodward is a well-known and respected leader in suicide prevention in Australia, having worked for 20 years in crisis support and suicide prevention policy with Lifeline and Suicide Prevention Australia.

Ms Hiremath and Dr Schroeder’s appointments will run from 3 April 2019 to 31 January 2021, and Mr Woodward’s appointment from 1 August 2019 to 31 July 2022. The timing of Mr Woodward’s appointment aligns with the expiry of the appointment of current member, Professor Wendy Cross.

Professor Cross’ contribution to the Advisory Board is greatly valued, and has supported improved mental health outcomes for Australians.

The new members bring the diversity and expertise needed to ensure a strong Commission.

They will help the Commission with providing input to and translating the outcomes of the Morrison Government’s Productivity Commission Inquiry into mental health, and will advise on the delivery of the Government’s historic $461 million youth mental health and suicide prevention plan.

The Commission will also be leading the new National Mental Health Workplace Initiative, announced in the 2019 Budget.

This initiative will support employers, industries, small businesses and sole traders to create mentally healthy workplaces that enable workers to achieve their best possible mental wellbeing.

The Liberal National Government is prioritising better mental health for all Australians with a record $4.7 billion expected to be spent on mental health this financial year alone.

In the 2019–20 Budget announced this week, we committed an additional $736.6 million to mental health programs.

This includes $114.5 million to trial eight new walk-in community mental health centres for adults, $63 million to establish six new residential treatment centres for people with eating disorders, and $375 million for the expansion of the headspace network, including 30 new headspace centres.

Our Government’s strong economic management ensures the continued record investment of funding into vital health initiatives including mental health, life-saving medicines, Medicare and hospitals.


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