On 30 November 2015, in a first for Australia, the Chief Psychiatrist became a independent statutory officer in WA, sitting outside all other agencies. On 16 March 2016, to commemorate this momentous occasion, Dr Nathan Gibson, the Chief Psychiatrist for Western Australia, and the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist (OCP) held their launch at their future premises at Workzone on Nash Street in East Perth.
There were a range of leaders from several statutory organisations in attendance including the Hon. Helen Morton, Minister for Mental Health, Mr Tim Marney, Mental Health Commissioner and Ms Alison Xamon, Chair of the WA Association for Mental Health (WAAMH) and Co-Lead of the Mental Health Network and Ms Alanna Clohesy representing Mr Steven Dawson opposition spokesperson for mental health.
To start proceedings, Ms Ingrid Cumming, a custodian and traditional owner of Whadjuk Nyungar country, performed a traditional song to Welcome us to Country. She expressed beautiful and poignant sentiments regarding the value of people working hand in hand and of her ancestors’ belief that every person has their place on this land.
Both Dr Gibson and the Hon. Helen Morton acknowledged the pioneering work of the previous Chief Psychiatrists of WA: Professor George Lipton, Dr Aaron Groves and Associate Professor Rowan Davidson as well as the previous Office Manager, Ms Janet Peacock in establishing the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist.
The move for independence was driven both by Professor Stokes in his review of mental health services and the Minister for Mental Health in hearing the consultation feedback during development of the Mental Health Act 2014.
Being independent means that the OCP is now separate from the Department of Health and the Mental Health Commission and will have a more defined role in keeping these agencies accountable. At the same time, the aim is to maintain a strong collaborative relationship with all stakeholders, consumers, carers and clinicians, as this is the most effective way to uphold high standards of care.
The values of the OCP remain unchanged, and the Office will continue to uphold the vital importance of clinical leadership, respect and the highest clinical standards.
Ms Ingrid Cumming
Dr Nathan Gibson, Chief Psychiatrist
Hon. Helen Morton, Minister for Mental Health
Dr Gibson and Hon. Helen Morton