Consumer facilitators provide training to Royal Commission staff on the final report and transformational change

In February 2021 the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System is due to release its final report. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make transformative change so that our mental health system helps, rather than hurts, consumers.

The DeclarationWarmed by positive developments in the Interim Report, consumer facilitators Wanda Bennetts, Alison Hall and Simon Katterl, with the guidance of Special Advisor Cath Roper, reminded the Royal Commission of this during digital training and reflective sessions in May 2020. This followed similar training opportunities in 2019 which focused on consumer engagement and language. With different reflective space, these recent sessions shifted focus towards the final report and its recommendations.

“Central to our sessions was thinking about how The VMIAC Declaration, a democratically, consumer-led document, has created a positive vision for our mental health system. Our message was that the Declaration should act as both a vision for, and principled constitution of, a new system emerging from this Royal Commission” said Simon.

The facilitators were fortunate to hear from the broad and deep expertise within the Royal Commission workforce about how they believe consumer views and The Declaration could inform their work. Discussions reflected on the importance of consumers being present in leadership positions in the future mental health system (building on the recommendations Commissioners made in the interim report), that consumer measures of success be examined as the basis for services, their funding and governance, as well as noting the importance that recommendations were properly supported and implemented.

Director of Community Engagement, Kerin Leonard reflected on the session: ‘Opportunities to pause and reflect like this are precious in a Royal Commission. The consumer facilitators once again created an open and welcoming space for staff to engage in. They led us through a reflection on the VMIAC Declaration and the diversity of perspectives it holds. The training also held some very powerful moments of hope and vision for a better future. Staff felt a strong connection from these discussions and links into their work on a system for the future’.

All facilitators expressed their gratitude for the opportunity and look forward to the final report.