The Victorian Government has named its first Mental Health Complaints Commissioner, who will be in charge of ensuring complaints regarding public mental health services are addressed and resolved.
Lynne Coulson Barr, who is the Victorian Deputy Disability Services Commissioner, will take up the new post on July 1 when Victoria’s new Mental Health Act 2014 comes into effect.
According to Minister for Mental Health Mary Wooldridge said the Government is investing $3.8 million to establish the Mental Health Complaints Commissioner, which was “a landmark in the delivery of public mental health services”.
Coulson Barr, who has been the Deputy Disability Services Commissioner since it establishment in 2007, was President of the Intellectual Disability Review Panel from 2004-2007 and is a former member of the Mental Health Review Board and the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal In 2013 she was awarded a prestigious Weinstein International Fellowship to study overseas approaches and further develop accessible and effective dispute resolution in Australia.
Coulson Barr said her initial priorities would be to establish practices that respond to the extensive feedback received from people with mental illness, families and service providers on the need for new approaches to complaints.
“My vision is for every complaint to be seen by services as an opportunity to hear the voice of people living with mental illness and their families, to safeguard rights and to improve public mental health services for everyone,” Coulson Barr said.
Minister Wooldridge said Coulson Barr had a deep understanding of the challenges faced by people with mental illness, their families and carers, as well as experience working with the services and peak bodies that will engage with the Mental Health Complaints Commissioner.
“The Commissioner is part of the Government’s new mental health legislative framework and is essential to improving how we treat and care for Victorians with mental illness,” Wooldridge said.
“The Mental Health Complaints Commissioner will have an annual budget of $2.44 million and her office will be situated alongside the Health Services Commissioner; ensuring a streamlined approach to complaints which involve different parts of the health system.”
This article first appeared on ‘Pro Bono News’ on 28 April 2014.