NSW CAG sits on a range of state committees to ensure that the views of mental health consumers are heard by policy and decision makers. A list of the current committees we sit on is below. To find out more about what the committee is about and what is happening in each committee, click on the title of the committee

Consumer Sub-Committee to the Mental Health Program Council

Mental Health consumers have the opportunity to influence mental health policies and programs at a statewide level in NSW through the convening of the Consumer Sub-Committee of the Program Council. The role of the Consumer Sub-Committee is to provide advice to the Mental Health Program Council regarding policy, planning and strategic issues impacting on mental health consumers in NSW. The Mental Health Program Council is the governing body for all public mental health services and programs in NSW.

The Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol Office (MHDAO), NSW Ministry of Health provides secretarial support to the committee. MHDAO and the NSW Consumer Advisory Group, Mental Health Inc (NSW CAG) co-chair the committee and provide support to the members via a project officer located within NSW CAG. 

The Consumer Sub-Committee has thirteen consumer representatives at present. 

Consumer Position

Name of representative

A consumer representing Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples                                 

Hayley Pigram

A consumer representing people from Culturally or Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities          

Lily Wu

A consumer representing the Non Government Organisation (NGO) Sector

Irene Gallagher

A consumer representing young people                                                      

Gail Phelps & Jade Kemppi

A consumer representing forensic mental health and people incarcerated who have mental illness                                                                       

Sunny Hemraj

A consumer representative who is not employed in a consumer position                        

Fay Jackson

A consumer representing older people (over the age of 65 years)                                 

Donald Withers

A consumer representing people with an Intellectual disability

James Condren

A consumer representing people in the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Communities (GLBTI)

Robyn Maurice

A consumer worker from a rural or remote Local Health District

Anne Francis

A consumer worker from a metropolitan Local Health District

Irene Constantinidis

Chair of the Consumer Worker's Committee

Paula Hanlon

 Key tasks of Committee Representatives are:

  • Prepare and attend regular meetings at the Ministry of Health in North Sydney
  • Prepare for and participate in teleconferences with NSW CAG prior to each scheduled meeting
  • Review and provide a consumer perspective on policies that go before the Mental Health Program Council.
  • Provide advice to the Mental Health Program Council on issues relating to mental health consumers in NSW.

If you would like to find out more about the consumer sub-committee please contact Reena Masrani

Phone: 02 9332 0227   Email:

Post: NSW CAG, Suite 501, 80 William Street, Sydney NSW 2000

Consumer SubCommittee Members please click in the button below to login the restricted area

NSW CAG representation on Commonwealth Committees

National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum (NCCF)

NSW CAG representation on State Committees

APQ6 Implementation Steering Committee (NSW Health)
Chronic and Continuing Care, Rehabilitation and Recovery Working Group (NSW Health)
Council of Social Service of NSW (NCOSS) Health Policy Advice Group
Mental Health Legal Services Project Steering Committee (PIAC)
NSW Health Care Complaints Commission Consumer Consultative Committee
NSW Joint Guarantee of Service (JGOS) for people with Mental Health Problems and Disorders living in Aboriginal, Community and Public Housing
NSW Mental Health Promotion Advisory Committee (Mental Health Association)
NSW Smoke Free Mental Health Taskforce Committee

Official Visitors Program

State Mental Health Telephone Access Line Steering Committee (NSW Health)

APQ6 Steering Committee

The APQ6 is a questionnaire that has been developed by NSW Health to measure vocational and community participation by mental health consumers.  Amongst other things this was in response to the NSW State Plan commitment to increasing community participation by adults with mental illness.

The APQ6 comprises of six questions about activites under taken in the past week; covering

Work - paid & unpaid or seeking work
Community/social activities
Desire for change and how the health services can assist

Testing of the reliability of the APQ6 was successfully performed in Queensland & NSW with 125 people completing the survey twice to ensure that people answer consistently overtime.  The majority of consumers found the APQ6 an acceptable tool and were very confident in their answers.  Improvements to the tool have been made based on consumer feedback.

The questionnaire is not compulsory for people to complete.  Information gathered through the questionnaire is analysed by NSW Health and reported back to services.  The purpose is to assess levels of social participation and to assist in increasing this.  The APQ6 is now being made available as an optional tool, so that interested services can begin to use it.

Chronic and Continuing Care, Rehabilitation and Recovery Working Group (CCCRRWG)

This working Group is one of three major platforms guiding the direction of mental health policy in NSW.

CCCRRWGs Key Priority Areas include:

  • To build on the rehabilitation, supported accommodation and other relevant frameworks to further their implementation across NSW Health.
  • To develop and facilitate the implementation of best practice through development of indicators, standards, protocols and clinical excellence in continuing and non-acute mental health care.
  • To monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of services for people with ongoing mental illness.
  • To examine the applicability of chronic care models from the physical health care field to mental health (eg: National Chronic Disease framework, NSW Chronic Care models).
  • To further develop the non-government (NGO) mental health sector.
  • To link with:
    • Existing interdepartmental committees and interdepartmental processes
    • Other Strategic Working Groups
    • The relevant Senior Officers' Group
  • To develop a work plan including Key Performance Indicators against which the Strategic Working Group will be assessed.

CCCRRWGs Current Projects include:

  • Rollout of the recently published Community Mental Health Strategy
  • Benchmarking and Best Practice subcommittee - identifying KPIs and future directions for non-acute inpatient care in NSW
  • Non Acute In Patient Unit (NAIPU) Strategy to be approved by Mental Health Program Council, NSW Health Director General and the Health Minister;
    • Thestrategy proposes that long term inpatient services be based on a recovery oriented model, acknowledging that recovery is not about the absence of symptoms, but a personally determined journey. The draft strategy uses a holistic framework,considering how mental illness impacts on the whole of the person'slife, and the broad range ofneeds they may haveincluding accommodation, education, social skills, relationships, and parenting skills.
    • The strategy also reinforces the need forconsumer, carer and family participation in the development, implementation, delivery and evaluation of mental healthservices.

CCCRRWG membership comprises representatives from rural and metropolitan Area Health Services, Forensic Mental Health, Mental Health Coordinating Council (MHCC), InforMH, NSW Consumer Advisory Group (NSW CAG) and NSW Health.

NSW CAG sits on the CCCRRWG representing the interests of consumers of NSW Mental Health Service.

Mental Health Legal Services Projects Advisory Committee

The Mental Health Legal Services (MHLS) project funded by the NSW Public Purpose Fund aims to research and pilot access models for legal services for mental health consumers.  The goal is to improve legal service delivery to people who experience mental illness.  The project is under the auspice of, and project managed by, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)

The project currently has 2 consumer representatives (one from NSW CAG) on its advisory committee.  Thus far the pilot projects that have been identified and applications for funding made are:

A social work service at Shopfront
A legal service at the Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association
Developing the Gamarada Indigenous Men's Healing Program
Training:  a series of training options for consumers and providers is currently being reviewed and will be tabled shortly

The MHLS project is well aligned to NSW CAG focus areas for 2008:

Changing attitudes  -  ensuring legal service providers are better informed in regards to needs and service delivery methods
Enhancing participation  -  the project currently has two consumer representatives on it.
Strengthening community services-this project has a direct purpose to provide additional community services (legal)
Focusing on recovery orientation  -  it supports access to needed services and is focused on seeing the person as a whole through its range of service provision models

The project will be submitting funding requests for next year and beyond.

Recently project members have made a visit to F.L.A.M.E.S., a forensic patient group at Morrisset Hospital.  There was significant misinformation that the inpatients held, and they expressed their difficulty with advocacy services being untimely and too short. There was also misinformation about the Official Visitor's Program.  In fact many of the people in the room did not understand the scheme and PIAC were going to investigate the terms of reference and outcome measures for the Official Visitor's Program.  There has been significant discussion around the new legislation regarding forensic patients and their rights.  Further follow up will be occurring in this area.

Official Visitors Advisory Committee

This committee provides advice regarding all aspects of the Official Visitor's Program. Official Visitors are engaged under the Mental Health Act (the Act) to ensure the adequate standards of care and treatment, and the rights and dignity of people who are being treated under the Act. This includes people who are in involuntary treatment within inpatient services or on Community Treatment Orders.

NSW CAG's role at this committee is to ensure that the views of consumers are heard and central to any decision in all recommendations, policies, and practice of the Program.

State Mental Health Telephone Access Line (SMHTAL) Program

The Improvement Project Summary


In NSW: A new direction for Mental Health (June 2006) a commitment was made to provide a 24-hour NSW mental health telephone access line. The line would provide advice, triage and referral service and be staffed by mental health clinicians and be linked to the National Health Call Centre Network, operating as healthdirect Australia.  The State Mental Health Telephone Access Line (SMHTAL) Program was developed to fulfil this commitment. NSW CAG has a representative sitting on the Steering Committee.

Overview of the Improvement Project

The SMHTAL Program is to be implemented by an Improvement Project which will improve consumer access to appropriate mental health services through two stages:

Stage 1           The establishment of a single state wide 1800 Mental Health telephone number operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week..

Calls to the 1800 number will be answered by a message presenting the caller with a number of options to choose from. One option will be for the caller to be transferred to the closest Area Health Service mental health telephone triage service. This will be answered by a mental health professional specialised in conducting a telephone triage assessment.

Stage 2           Improving the operation of existing Area Health Service mental health telephone triage services so that they are able to meet state wide service Standards.

Adherence to these Standards will ensure that, among other matters, calls are answered promptly, and are answered by a MH professional who has access to current records, and to a local resource database. Adherence to these Standards will be monitored by the Mental Health and Drug & Alcohol Office, NSW Department of Health.

Implementation of the Improvement Project

It is anticipated that Stage 1 will be commence from late February 2009.  Stage 2 will be rolled out over 12 months from March 2009.

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