Thriving communities and the role of allied health

Mr David Butt

Chief Executive Officer, National Mental Health Commission PO Box R1463 Royal Exchange, NSW 2000,

The National Mental Health Commission’s Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services – Contributing Lives, Thriving Communities – highlighted the existing complexity, inefficiency and fragmentation of Australia’s mental health system.  It presented a compelling case for long term sustainable reform and overall system redesign.

Central to this reform and system redesign is a person-centred approach to mental health care, and the development of integrated care pathways to improve outcomes for people experiencing mental ill health and their families.  A greater focus on prevention and early intervention in community and primary health services is a key enabler for this person-centred service model.  This will support people and carers to lead fulfilling productive lives.

Allied health professionals have a key role in linking people with the services that they need, and joining services in ways that suit the needs of individuals, rather than individuals needing to make do with traditional service approaches.  Care teams will be designed that are required by the individual – for example, Psychologists and other Allied Health Professionals, Aboriginal Health Workers, Non-Clinical service providers, Psychiatrists and Community Mental Health Services.

The Commission’s findings, and the Australian Government response outlining comprehensive reform of the mental health system, will be presented.  This reform will transform the way services are planned and delivered within three years.  The need for action is critical when almost four million people across Australia will experience a mental illness each year.


David Butt was appointed CEO of the National Mental Health Commission in January 2014.  David has 30 years of experience in the health system, much of it at CEO and Executive level.Prior to the Commission, David was Deputy Secretary of the Australian Department of Health from August 2011, head of Rural and Regional Health Australia, and the Commonwealth’s first Chief Allied Health Officer.This followed 15 years as CEO of three major health organisations: Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Health and Community Care, National CEO of Little Company of Mary Health Care (the Calvary group), and Australian General Practice Network.