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Submission to the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Bill

Kōrero whakamutunga – Conclusion

Changing Minds NZ endorses the establishment of a Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission as set out in the Bill.

On behalf of our extensive network of people with Lived Experience we recommend a number of changes to the Bill that will strengthen the Commission and ensure it is equipped to carry out its functions.

These recommendations, the gaps risks and limitations they seek to resolve and the rationale for adopting them is clearly outlined in Table 1. Below

Table 1. Gaps, Recommendations and Rationale



Gaps, risks and limitations Recommendation/solution


Rationale for change






Two to five Board members is inadequate to ensure representation and manage complexity of task Board should be comprised of eight members with a minimum quorum of five members


Inclusion; diversity; capacity, reflective of successful overseas models with similar population size and diversity



8(2) The Board’s task is huge. Even with a larger Board of 5-8 people, members need to hold and/or access a vast range of knowledge and experience. Particularly in a period of great need and great change, it has to ensure the Commission’s focus is on people who know most and need most Lived Experience a core requirement of all members in addition to other perspectives



Prioritise Māori world view and ensure it is embedded in all work

People with Lived Experience hold vast knowledge and connections that will ensure the Commission has the credibility and expertise to deliver.

People with Lived Experience also have other relevant skills and qualifications outside their lived experience. This shares a clear message that Lived Experience is valued, and people with Lived Experience recover/can flourish.

Will help make a giant leap in the eradication of discrimination in employment by having Lived Experience in Leadership roles.

The Commission needs to be framed within a Māori world view for Māori to engage with it and experience the shift in outcomes needed

11(1) The establishment of the Commission is a major opportunity to create the framework for national mental wellbeing leadership, but the functions do not go far enough to fulfil its remit or potential to affect transformational change. Unless oversight of all mental wellbeing strategy, policy and quality standards sit in one place there is a likelihood that current fragmented and reactive decision-making will persist; functions need to be clarified to ensure there is scope of accountabilities


Reporting must include an annual report to Parliament


Reporting should include a financial analysis report


The Commission should:  

–       assess and report on all parts of society that impact significantly on mental wellbeing


–        set national standards and service specifications for service providers


–        identify and share good practice information


–       collaborate with relevant national agencies with responsibility for equity, human rights, child wellbeing, health promotion, quality and privacy


–       have oversight of national mental wellbeing strategy


–        have oversight of all relevant legislation


–       have oversight of all relevant policy, to include mental wellbeing impact analysis

The wellbeing and whole-of-system scope of the Commission need to be reflected in its functions.


Extending functions to incorporate service and system monitoring and standard-setting; and policy and legislative oversight will give the Commission the scope it needs to be effective and plug gaps that currently exist.


The government and public need a transparent process to know whether the who/how and what public money is spent on wellbeing is having the positive outcome we need

11(2) Māori are disproportionately affected by mental distress and addiction issues. ‘Having regard to’ outcomes for Māori, and adherence to the obligations of Te Tiriti o Waitangi alone will not achieve the transformation needed The Commission should ensure the views of Māori are paramount in all its activities and outputs Effective participation among Māori and focus on Māori priorities and needs will not only benefit Māori outcomes but outcomes for all communities


A tikanga Māori framework of working and engagement is a safer, more inclusive, responsive and effective way of meeting positive outcomes for all New Zealanders


12 The Commission needs to have ‘teeth’. An agency that can only recommend or influence is unlikely to be able to affect the system-wide change needed to achieve the Commission’s objective of improving the mental wellbeing of New Zealanders The Commission should have the power

–       to direct and mandate improvements in service providers


–       to direct improvements in all agencies and organisations, including in private employers


–       to request or commission necessary data or research


The Commission’s recommendations should be considered and responded to by Cabinet (or other appropriate decision maker)

With the necessary levers the Commission has the potential to make New Zealand a world leader in promoting mental wellbeing across all of society and providing first class services for those who need to access care and support


With the independent power to affect change, decisions are less likely to become stuck in the bureaucratic wheels or passed over due to political agendas

13 Advisory groups are not an effective mechanism to gather the input the Commission needs. Views need to be acted on, not just sought. The Commission should employ a wide range of mechanisms to engage and ensure diverse views are incorporated into its work


The Commission should engage and resource groups and organisations who already have mana with priority group populations to articulate and activate their voice.


The Commission should take steps to ensure the views of people with Lived Experience inform all decisions and work programmes

Employing a range of mechanisms to engage, and tapping into trusted and established channels and networks will ensure the Commission has the capacity, insights and credibility to make change where it is most needed


Utilising existing networks and communities saves money and time

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