MHCC ACT was established as a peak body for the community mental health sector in 2004 and has been serving the sector for 15 years.
The community mental health sector grew out of the gradual shift towards community-based care for people with mental illness as an alternative to institutionalisation and hospitalisation. This shift gained momentum with the waves of de-institutionalisation in the 1970s and 80s, although the growth in community-based supports lagged behind.
In the latter part of the 1990s, the recovery-oriented approach gained recognition as an effective way to assist individuals affected by mental illness. This approach is underpinned by the idea that recovery from mental illness is possible, and that recovery happens in the community rather than in a hospital setting.
Kenmore Psychiatric Hospital (Kenmore Asylum), Goulburn, decommissioned in 2003.
This new approach not only transformed the landscape for consumers and carers, it also revolutionised service delivery for community-based organisations who became front-line service providers.
As government policies adjusted to this new framework, a number of consumers, carers and other individuals in the Canberra community saw a need and an opportunity to bring together the diverse organisations working throughout the region. These individuals and groups, which included the nascent ACT Mental Health Consumer Network, the Mental Health Providers Network and what would become the ACT Consumer Carer Caucus, shared a common interest in developing a comprehensive and integrated approach to psychosocial rehabilitation and community support in the ACT, and with the support of ACTCOSS worked collaboratively towards this goal.
Following extensive consultations, MHCC ACT was formed and held its inaugural Annual General Meeting in 2004.
The establishment and early years of MHCC ACT coincided with the beginning of more than a decade of significant investment in community mental health services by both ACT and Commonwealth Governments. MHCC ACT itself soon grew from a representational peak to a body also delivering a range of sector development and workforce development initiatives.
In recent years MHCC ACT has supported ACT community mental health providers through the uncharted waters of the transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The introduction of the NDIS has once again radically changed the funding and supports landscape for consumers, carers and providers, and MHCC ACT is changing to adapt to the needs of its stakeholders in the new environment.
Since 2007 MHCC ACT has been a member of Community Mental Health Australia, the alliance of the state and territory community mental health sector peaks. Through CMHA, MHCC ACT influences national mental health policy and participates in national projects.
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