Evaluation of suicide prevention activities

3.7 Formation of the National Mental Health Commission and publication of its first Report Card

Page last updated: January 2014

Australia's first National Mental Health Commission was established on 1 January 2012. It is independent and reports directly to the Prime Minister. The Commission's vision is for all people in Australia to achieve the best possible mental health and wellbeing. The Commission aims to work across all sectors and settings that promote mental health and prevent mental illness and suicide. As such, its reach extends beyond government programs and beyond the health sector. The Commission has three primary strategies:

  • Reporting on how the mental health system is performing and the contribution other sectors are making to people's lives. A key initial focus was the creation of a data set for the National Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention18 (Section 3.7.1).
  • Providing independent advice (in the form of reports, submissions, studies and commentaries) to make visible the evidence, build capacity, guide investment decisions and improve systems and supports.
  • Collaborating with government agencies, community-based and private sector providers, businesses, employees and workforce representatives in order to develop a shared vision, align actions, share learnings, measure progress, and ensure consistent communication about mental health and suicide.19

3.7.1 A Contributing Life: the 2012 National Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

In 2012, the National Mental Health Commission released A Contributing Life: the 2012 National Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention (the 2012 Report Card)20. In the first of what will be annual Report Cards, the Commission presents a 'big picture' case for change and identifies four key priority action areas:
  • Mental health must be a high national priority for all governments and the community
  • A complete picture of what is happening needs to be provided and changes need to be closely monitored and evaluated
  • Agreement needs to be reached on the best ways to encourage improvement and get better results
  • Analysis of the gaps and barriers to achieving a contributing life needs to be undertaken and Australia's direction agreed on.
Based on these four action areas, a number of recommendations are made to achieve the vision of a contributing life for people with mental health difficulties, their families and supporters. While all the recommendations are relevant to suicide prevention, one has suicide as its specific focus: Recommendation 10: Prevent and reduce suicide, and support those who attempt suicide through timely local responses and reporting.

Two actions are proposed to work towards this recommendation:

  • Develop local, integrated and more timely suicide and at-risk reporting and responses, ie, coordinated, community-based, culturally appropriate, early response systems and suicide prevention programs
  • Programs with a proven track record (which are evidence-based) must be supported and implemented as a priority in regions and communities with the highest suicide or attempted suicide rates.21

18 National Mental Health Commission, A Contributing Life: the 2012 National Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, NMHC, Sydney, 2012.
19 National Mental Health Commission, Strategies and Actions 2012-2015, NMHC, Sydney, 2012, accessed 9 April 2013.
20 NMHC, A Contributing Life.
21 NMHC, A Contributing Life.