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Minister Thanks Outgoing Mental Health Leader

Health Minister Annette King has praised outgoing Mental Health Commission chair Barbara Disley for the significant role she played in developing New Zealand's mental health sector.

"Barbara has done an outstanding job over the past five years," Mrs King said today. "Under her leadership, the Commission's achievements include pioneering new approaches to reducing discrimination and involving people and groups who were previously marginalised into the mainstream of mental health developments."

Mrs King said Dr Disley had always provided her with advice that was open, practical and valuable.

"I have no doubt she will make a major contribution to children and young people with special needs in her new role as group manager of special education at the Ministry of Education."

She said the Government fully supported the excellent work being done by the Commission in such a critical area, and she was grateful current Commissioner Bob Henare had agreed to step in as acting chair from late January until Dr Disley's replacement was appointed.

"Mr Henare's appointment will maintain continuity and leadership as he has been a Commissioner since the Commission was established in 1996 and has previously acted as chair."

Mrs King encouraged suitably qualified candidates to apply for the appointment. Applications close on 31 January 2002.

"The role provides an opportunity for an excellent leader to make a vital contribution to fully developing New Zealand's mental health services and empowering people with mental illnesses toward recovery and community participation."

The Commission's key functions include reporting to the Health Minister on the implementation of the national mental health strategy, promoting a better understanding of mental illness, and reducing the stigma associated with it. The Commission was set up in 1996 following the Mason Report, and recently had its life extended until August 2004.


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