News > Former ACCC chief to head new mental health body

Former ACCC chief to head new mental health body

<p>Professor Allan Fels AO is better known for his long and distinguished stewardship of the corporate watchdog, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.</p> <p>But the newly appointed chairman of Australia’s first National Mental Health Commission has a very personal acquaintance with mental illness.</p> <p>A story in The Australian in October reported his elder daughter underwent her first psychotic episode at 25 and was later diagnosed with schizophrenia, leading to 15 years of treatment for the ‘very severe mental illness.’</p> <p>The report quoted Prof Fels AO: ‘I have become very aware of the difficult life of people with mental illnesses and the quality of life they have.</p> <blockquote> <p>‘And severe mental illness has a devastating effect on family, made worse by the comparatively poor level of service available since the closure of the asylums in the 1980s and 1990s.’</p> </blockquote> <p>Announcing its foundation in the budget, the Federal Government said it had allocated $32 million over five years to set up the commission in the Prime Minister's portfolio.</p> <p>The announcement said the commission ‘will provide leadership, drive a more transparent and accountable mental health system, and give mental health national prominence.</p> <blockquote> <p>‘The core function of the Commission will be to monitor, assess and report on how the system is performing and its impact on consumer and carer outcomes. It will also provide a strong and consolidated consumer voice, which will contribute to more responsive and accountable policy and program directions within the sector.</p> <p>‘The Commission's first task will be to produce a National Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention in 2012 — delivering on a 2010 Government election commitment.’</p> </blockquote>