Four assistant commissioners appointed to collaborate with Mental Health Commission

  • Four assistant commissioners engaged to provide strategic, expert advice to support the work of the Mental Health Commission
  • Assistant commissioners for Aboriginal affairs, alcohol and other drugs, lived experience (consumer) and lived experience (significant other)
  • Part of package of reforms to strengthen leadership, accountability and collaboration of the mental health and alcohol and other drugs systems

Four assistant commissioners have been appointed at the Mental Health Commission (the Commission), to provide strategic and expert advice to inform system-wide reform to help improve outcomes for people in Western Australia.

The new roles and appointments follow the Cook Government’s response to findings from the Independent Review of WA Health System Governance, which highlighted the need to strengthen leadership, accountability and collaboration of the mental health alcohol and other drugs systems.

They were appointed based on their leadership roles within their respective communities and will provide expert advice to the work of the Commission and the mental health commissioner.

The assistant commissioners will commence on 1 July 2024.

Assistant commissioner Aboriginal affairs, Mr James Christian PSM MPA

James Christian PSM is a Wiradjuri person from Central Western New South Wales. James has held senior executive positions in government and national not-for-profit organisations.

He has been responsible for national and state-based policies and programs in the areas of Aboriginal Affairs and social and human services sectors. James and his family live on the traditional lands of the Whadjuk people of the Noongar Nation.

Assistant commissioner alcohol and other drugs, Dr Stephen Bright BA (Psych) Hons, PhD (Clin Psych)

Dr Stephen Bright has significant alcohol and other drugs research experience and understands contemporary and emerging policy issues. He has previously held senior clinical and managerial positions at publicly-funded health services, and is often called on to provide expert testimony at high level inquiries.

Assistant commissioner lived experience (consumer), Ms Patricia Tran

Patricia Tran has significant experience providing peer work and suicide training across the sector through a wide range of providers, including Consumers of Mental Health WA. She is a sessional lecturer with Curtin University, is well connected in the sector and brings a wealth of experience.

Assistant commissioner lived experience (significant other), Ms Wendy Cream FDRP, GradD Couns

Wendy Cream has a family lived experience of mental health, alcohol and other drug issues and justice involvement. She has worked in a range of designated lived experience roles, including being the designated and sole family/carer member on the Ministerial Taskforce into Public Mental Health Services for Infants, Children and Adolescents aged 0 to 18 years in WA.

Wendy has over 30 years’ experience working in government and non-government roles with vulnerable communities in rural, remote and metropolitan areas.

As stated by Mental Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson:

“The inaugural assistant commissioners bring a wealth of experience to their specialist roles which will be invaluable to the Mental Health Commission.

“We are committed to driving change across mental health and alcohol and other drugs systems, and helping ensure this change is informed by expert advice and the voices of people with lived experience.

“The assistant commissioners will play a critical role in this work.”

/Public Release. View in full here.