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Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System

Personal story:

Julie Anderson

Julie Anderson is currently the Senior Consumer Advisor in the Office of the Chief Mental Health Nurse and the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist in Victoria. She was the President and Chair of the Board of Neami National, a community mental health service, a position she held for more than 10 years.

Prior to this career, when she was raising her two children, Julie was in and out of hospital. She said she was once described as a ‘revolving door consumer’.

Julie explained how important consumer choice is for recovery.

I think the choice around what services you receive and when is very important. I think you should be able to have the choice to have treatment and care in the home, not just in the hospital system, and I think that the choice around that treatment and care is really vital to a recovery journey.

Julie said the supported decision‑making process is critical to providing this choice.

A supported decision‑making environment is important. For example, when I wanted to refuse treatment, it was an honest conversation with me saying, ‘These are the alternatives and this is what my family thinks’. A supported decision‑making environment helped me make a decision. While I wasn’t happy with the choice I had, I was still able to make the decision with all the information presented to me.

She also advocates for more co‑design and consumer participation in the future mental health system.

I think with the National Mental Health Standards that the services partner with consumers very well, it’s a standard that they’re accredited with, but I don’t think we know how to co‑design or co‑produce effectively, and I think that’s a capacity that needs to be built into services around that co‑design. There’s some very good UK tools around how to embed co‑design into service delivery.

Source: Witness Statement of Julie Anderson, 28 May 2020; RCVMHS, Evidence of Julie Anderson, 16 June 2020.