The McGowan Government is adding the new position of Chief Medical Officer, Mental Health (CMOMH) to the Mental Health Commission (the Commission) laying the foundations to strengthen the Commission’s leadership role.
Reporting directly to the Mental Health Commissioner, the CMOMH will provide clinical expertise, contribute to strategic planning and policy development, strengthen consumer and community focused clinical care, and liaise with non-government services to support system integration across Western Australia’s public mental health, alcohol and other drug services.
The Chief Medical Officer, Mental Health will also have a key role in a newly created Mental Health Executive Committee (the Committee), to be chaired by the Mental Health Commissioner.
The Committee will for the first time bring together Health Service Provider (HSP) chief executives and their mental health lead executives, together with the Director General of Health. It will help strengthen integration and accountability within the public hospital system.
The Committee will also focus on improving partnerships, in particular with the community sector, and strengthen consumer focused care, to ensure the lived experience is central to policy development and service delivery.
The decision to create the CMOMH and the Committee follows the release of the Review of the Clinical Governance of Public Mental Health Services in Western Australia.
The Review echoes the findings of the State Government’s Sustainable Health Review that, like many other precincts around the world, our mental health system is under significant strain from increasing demand.
The Review, carried out in 2019, was a recommendation of both the Review of Safety and Quality in the WA health system: A Strategy for Continuous Interim Report Improvement (Hugo Mascie-Taylor, 2017) and the Sustainable Health Review (April 2019).
The Review panel consulted extensively across the mental health sector and sought input from clinicians, consumers, carers and family representatives. While unable to identify a preferred clinical governance model, there was consensus on several key themes.
To reduce duplication of effort, service agreements will be streamlined between the Commission and the Department of Health without diluting the role of the Commission as the purchaser of mental health services.
There will now be further consultation with the sector to inform the Government’s response to the Review and identify other initiatives that will strengthen the leadership role of the Commission, improve services and develop a contemporary mental health care system that is recovery-focused and co-designed with consumers and carers.
The Review of the Clinical Governance of Public Mental Health Services can be viewed at
As stated by Health and Mental Health Minister Roger Cook:
“The McGowan Government has moved to support stronger State-wide clinical leadership in our mental health care system, which is focused on recovery and driven by consumers and carers.
“I thank the panel members for their work which has confirmed that, like many others around the world, the public mental health system in Western Australia is under significant strain.
“These initial steps announced today, lay the foundation for stronger partnerships across all aspects of the mental health system and ensure leadership in best practice across a consumer-centred care system.
The newly created Chief Medical Officer, Mental Health will play an instrumental role, working closely with the Commissioner, health sector leaders, WA’s Chief Medical Officer and the Director General of Health, to ensure system-level clinical advice on mental health, alcohol and other drug issues is an integral consideration in the development of broader health policy and procedure in the State’s public health system.
“We also need to boost community-based services, provide alternatives to hospitals, strengthen prevention and work on system improvements such as the use of data.
“Our mental health system is a reflection on who we are as a society and we must work towards an integrated, strengthened system for the future.”