Speakers: Louise Bradley, Lesley Van Schoubroeck, Kevin Allan, David Butt and Chris Burns
This featured symposium on mental health commissions/commissioners was a timely and interesting session.
Ably chaired by Barbara Disley, we heard from mental health commissioners from New Zealand, Canada and federal and state level commissioners from Australia.
Previous New Zealand mental health commissioners were also in the audience.
Acknowledgements were made that New Zealand started the first commission, even though the form and structure of their commission had changed dramatically since it started.
We heard all the good work the various commissions and commissioners are doing. For me though the overriding impression was that all the commissions had different structures, accountabilities and numbers of commissioners.
The Canadian commissioner struck a chord with me when she mentioned the fundamental drivers for their work being “helping someone get a house, a job and a friend”.
Much reference was made to the “elephant in the room” by commissioners and audience alike – a metaphor which enjoyed a life of its own as it bounced around the room morphing into strange new forms! Exactly what the elephant was however, was left as the unstated elephant in the room!!