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2014 Contributing Lives Review

The Commonwealth Government tasked the National Mental Health Commission with conducting a national review of mental health programmes and services.  The focus of the review was on assessing the efficiency and effectiveness of programmes and services in supporting individuals experiencing mental ill-health and their families and other support people to lead a contributing life and to engage productively in the community. 

The final report was provided to the Commonwealth Government on 1 December 2014.

Read the Review Terms of Reference
PDF document 184KB
Word document 16.4KB 

Read the Minister's media release announcing the Terms of Reference

Australian Government Response

On the 26 November 2015 the Australian Government released its reponse to the Commission's mental health review: Contributing Lives, Thriving Communities. More information can be found here.

Contributing Lives, Thriving Communities - Report of the National Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services

The Contributing Lives, Thriving Communities - Report of the National Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services is now available to download from our website - see links below.

The ultimate goal of this Review was to make a set of recommendations for Government to consider, that will create a system to support the mental health and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities in ways that enables people to live contributing lives and participate as fully as possible as members of thriving communities.

This included programmes and services which have as a main objective:

  • The prevention, early detection and treatment of mental illness;
  • The prevention of suicide;
  • Mental health research, workforce development and training; and/or
  • The reduction of the burden of disease caused by mental illness.

The Review provides 25 recommendations across nine strategic directions which guide a detailed implementation framework of activity over the next decade. Taken together, they form a strong, achievable and practical plan to reform Australia’s mental health system.

The Review is framed on the basis of making changes within existing resources, as specified by the Terms of Reference provided to the Commission by the Commonwealth Government.

View the Review by section: 

Summary (WORD – 3145KB) / (PDF – 605KB)
An overview of the findings and recommendations of Contributing Lives, Thriving Communities

Volume 1: Strategic Directions
Practical Solutions 1-2 years

Volume 2: Every service is a gateway (WORD – 5741KB) / (PDF – 5959KB)
Response to Terms of  Reference

Volume 3: What people told us (WORD – 1350KB) / (PDF – 2012KB)
Analysis of formal submissions to the Review

Volume 4: Supporting Papers
Background research and collation of evidence (including data and themes)

You can download a ZIP file of the full report, Contributing Lives, Thriving Communities HERE (30MB).

Fact sheets

There are also a number of fact sheets providing summary information on specific issues:

A summary from the Report

The Commission prepared a summary document from the Review report on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander challenges in mental health. 

  • Specific challenges for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (PDF - 1.6MB)


Commissioned reports

As part of the review process a number of supporting reports were also commissioned. These reports were commissioned as inputs to inform our work and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Mental Health Commission. You can view the reports here:


Community, mental health sector and agency contributions

On 24 March 2014 we invited all interested people and organisations to make a submission to inform the Commission’s deliberations, with online submissions closing at 11.59pm AEST 14 April 2014. You can read the Commission’s media release here.

We wrote to more than 530 stakeholders and encouraged them to promote the call for submissions to their networks and to consult with and reflect the views of their members and other constituents in their submissions. The submission process was designed to focus input to help the Commission to meet the review’s specific Terms of Reference and timeframes. In particular the survey sought input on service gaps, duplication, inefficiency, unnecessary red tape and solutions.

The Commission would like to thank the community and the mental health sector for participating in the call for submissions. The more than 2,000 online and paper submissions received were read and analysed and used in the report to Government. Analysis of the responses to the call for submissions features in Volume 3.

The submissions process wasn’t the only way we gathered views, ideas and evidence – we asked funders and service providers for data and information; we met face to face with consumer and carer, service provider and professional representatives; and we looked at a range of research, evaluations and reviews.

Very importantly, the Review builds on the work of the Commission in its first two years which were spent consulting extensively and building evidence from around Australia, especially from people with lived experience of mental health problems and their families and supporters. This will always be at the heart of our advice and reports.

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