The Transition Committee monitoring the NSW Institute of Psychiatry’s (NSWIOP) transition to the Health Education and Training Institute (HETI) met for the second time on 8 July 2014. As flagged after the inaugural meeting this Committee which I am chairing is overseeing this process on behalf of the Minister for Mental Health and I am happy to provide this overview as a summary of issues considered.

The members of this Committee are:

  • Professor Anthony Baker;
  • Dr Nick O’Connor;
  • Ms Corrine Henderson;
  • Ms Heather Gray;
  • Mr Peter Carter; and
  • Ms Leanne O’Shannessy

The Committee welcomed Ms Rhonda Loftus as the newly appointed Executive Director of the NSWIOP. Rhonda had earlier worked at the NSWIOP as Director of the Transition but commenced in her new role as of 16 June 2014. Rhonda has considerable experience in health service management with a background in social work and quality management. Ms Rhonda Loftus will now formally become a member of the Transition Committee.

In regard to governance of the NSWIOP it was noted by the Committee that the Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol Office (MHDAO) is providing line management to the agency. Mr Peter Carter, Director MHDAO, is a member of the Committee and is very actively involved in supporting the transition.

It was noted by the Committee members that the transition to HETI has significantly assisted the NSWIOP in the stabilising of its business and has seen improvements introduced in regard to financial management processes, communication systems and overall governance.  As a consequence of this work, the NSWIOP has had its recurrent funding restored by the Ministry of Health as of 1 July 2014.

The Transition Committee has taken the recommendations from the Mental Health Commission’s Review NSWIOP (2013) and is progressively working through an implementation plan against them. Some of these strategies will clearly take more time than others to implement but I am pleased that progress has been observed and the monitoring of actions will continue.

There was discussion about how the Higher Education Status of the NSWIOP would be managed in its transition to HETI. This status is awarded by the Commonwealth agency Tertiary Education Quality Standards (TEQSA).  The HETI Chief Executive Ms Heather Gray advised the Committee that this issue is seen as crucial to the successful transition and a plan to manage this will be worked up in conjunction with the NSWIOP for cross-organisational decision prior to approaching TEQSA. There was reassurance given to the Committee by Heather that this matter will be progressed to ensure that the higher education provider (HEP) status of the NSWIOP continues and there is no disruption to students.

It was noted by the Committee that Rhonda advised there is work at the NSWIOP to strengthen its orientation to consumers and recovery across all of its programs. The NSWIOP is working towards integrating consumer work as core to its programs and will also be planning for the inclusion of consumers in its governance structure and processes. It is important that the sector is provided with clear and accurate information about these changes and staff from the NSWIOP will continue working with the Mental Health Commission to ensure there is clarity about the ongoing development of the NSWIOP and its links to consumers and programs.

Mr John Feneley

NSW Mental Health Commissioner


For more information about the NSW Mental Health Commission, go to the Commission’s website