In a historic move, globally recognized mental health pioneer Taimi Allan has been appointed full-time Mental Health Commissioner for South Australia. This important appointment comes after a gap of more than three years since the state last had a dedicated full-time commissioner, a gap that started when the position was dissolved by the former Liberal Government in 2019.
Hailing from South Australia, Allan’s impressive credentials position him perfectly for this important role. She is Ember’s current Director of Innovation, has been a member of New Zealand’s influential Mental Health and Welfare Commission, served as Mental Health Advisor to the Royal Commission on Abuse in State Treatment, and is Deputy Chair of the Suicide Death Review Committee.
Allan’s role is to galvanize government-wide initiatives to support the mental health and overall wellbeing of all South Australians. Integrated into this work, the Commission worked closely with those with personal experience with mental illness, their families, caregivers, medical providers, and other key figures such as Nadia Clancy, the Prime Minister’s Advocate for Suicide Prevention.
The importance of having a full time commissioner cannot be overlooked. The need for a full-time commissioner was recommended by the previous part-time chief Mental Health Commissioner, John Mannion, who resigned last December. His duties are shared with Heather Nowak and David Kelly, all of whom work part time.
Allan’s transition into this vital position involves moving on from New Zealand and officially taking over at the end of October. In keeping with his arrival, the Government of South Australia pushed the investment envelope in mental health, committing $294 million. This amount will fill 100 new mental health beds in several hospitals and fund home care for patients equivalent to an additional 20 beds.
Minister for Health & Welfare Member of Parliament Chris Picton, expressed his feelings for Allan’s appointment, saying, “Taimi is a wonderful South Australian, renowned globally for her work in the field of mental health. I firmly believe he will embrace the role of Mental Health Commissioner and help us deliver the necessary improvements to the broader mental health system across our state.
Embracing this new chapter, Allan reflects on his personal journey with mental health, “I used the Mental Health system in South Australia during my teens and twenties and I know personally how difficult it can be to navigate that system.
“My own recovery has kept me working in the mental health field for the last 20 years and I am happy that I can now take home everything I have learned.
“I want to bring hope to South Australians. Recovery is not only possible, it is possible and my job is to help others put networks together so South Australia can learn from what is working around the world.”
Nicole Keller, Executive Director Mental Health and Welfare, hailed Allan’s appointment as a major achievement for all residents, “Taimi’s appointment is a real victory for all South Australians. She is a passionate advocate and has inspired so many positive changes through her extensive work.
“We hope the new Commissioner will have a strong focus on working in partnership with people with life experience, their families and caregivers.”
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