Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Bill

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Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Bill

Government Bill


Explanatory note

General policy statement

The objective of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Bill is to establish a Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission.

The Commission will contribute to better mental health and wellbeing outcomes for people in New Zealand. It will also contribute to improving equity for Māori, Pacific peoples, disabled people, rainbow communities, and other groups that experience poorer mental health and wellbeing outcomes. The Commission will hold the current and future governments and other decision-makers to account for improving mental health and wellbeing, challenging them to perform better. The Commission will be established as an independent Crown entity to provide independence from the Government of the day.

The Commission will provide system-level oversight of mental health and wellbeing in New Zealand. It will build on the roles of existing organisations that contribute to mental health and wellbeing by looking across the whole system. This will include looking at how the system —

  • promotes mental health and wellbeing:

  • builds resilience and prevents poor mental health and wellbeing (including addiction and suicidal distress and behaviour):

  • identifies and responds to people experiencing poor mental health and wellbeing, and the persons (including family and whānau) who support them.

Acknowledging that there are many factors that contribute to people’s mental health and wellbeing, and that people rarely experience 1 factor in isolation, the Commission’s focus will span all government and non-government contributors to mental health and wellbeing. This will include (but will not be limited to) the health and disability, social welfare, housing, education, justice, and workplace relations and safety sectors. It will encompass the social determinants of health, such as housing, employment, poverty, social attitudes, and discrimination. It will include whether approaches to mental health and wellbeing are culturally appropriate.

The Commission will promote alignment, collaboration, and communication between government and non-government contributors to mental health and wellbeing. The Commission will monitor and advocate for the collective mental health and wellbeing of people in New Zealand.

The Commission will contribute to better and more equitable mental health and wellbeing outcomes for people in New Zealand by influencing—

  • government and non-government decision makers to develop effective, culturally appropriate strategies and policies that contribute to improved mental health and wellbeing:

  • service funders and providers to design and provide appropriate services and supports:

  • research and evidence funders and providers to improve the evidence base relating to mental health and wellbeing:

  • people and businesses in New Zealand to take action to improve their own mental health and wellbeing and that of family, whānau, employees, clients, and the wider community.

Departmental disclosure statement

The Ministry of Health is required to prepare a disclosure statement to assist with the scrutiny of this Bill. The disclosure statement provides access to information about the policy development of the Bill and identifies any significant or unusual legislative features of the Bill.

Regulatory impact assessment

The Ministry of Health produced a regulatory impact assessment on 20 June 2019 to help inform the main policy decisions taken by the Government relating to the contents of this Bill.

Clause by clause analysis

Clause 1 is the Title clause.

Clause 2 is the commencement clause. The Bill comes into force on 9 February 2021.

Part 1Preliminary provisions

Clause 3 is the Treaty of Waitangi clause.

Clause 4 defines terms used in the Bill.

Clause 5 is the operative provision for Schedule 1, which contains transitional, savings, and related provisions. There are currently no provisions of this nature.

Clause 6 provides that the Act will bind the Crown.

Part 2Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission

Establishment of Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission

Clause 7 establishes the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission (the Commission) as an independent Crown entity under the Crown Entities Act 2004.

Clause 8 provides that the board of the Commission consists of 2 to 5 members who collectively must have knowledge, understanding, and experience of specified matters.

Clause 9 imposes a collective duty on the board of the Commission, in addition to the collective duties of the board that are already owed under sections 49 to 52 of the Crown Entities Act 2004. The board must ensure that the Commission maintains systems and processes to ensure that the Commission has the capability and capacity to uphold the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi) and its principles, and to engage with Māori and to understand perspectives of Māori.

Objective, functions, and powers of Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission

Clause 10 sets out the objective of the Commission, which is to contribute to better and more equitable mental health and wellbeing outcomes for people in New Zealand.

Clause 11 sets out the functions of the Commission.

Clause 12 sets out the powers of the Commission.

Obtaining views of specified groups

Clause 13 requires the Commission to establish mechanisms to ensure that there are effective means of seeking the views of certain people and groups when performing its functions and exercising its powers. The Commission may establish advisory or consultancy groups for that purpose.

Power to obtain information

Clause 14 empowers the Commission to obtain information from the entities identified in clause 14(6), if that information is necessary or desirable to enable the Commission to perform its functions. The power to obtain information is subject to clause 15.

Clause 15 provides that the Commission must not request, and an entity must not supply, information that is—

  • personal information:

  • information collected under the Statistics Act 1975 (access to that information can instead be obtained in accordance with the provisions of that Act):

  • information that a revenue officer must keep confidential under section 18 of the Tax Administration Act 1994.

An entity may also refuse to supply information if it can be properly withheld under certain sections of the Official Information Act 1982, or if the supply of the information would limit the ability of the entity (or certain others) to act judicially, or to carry out the statutorily independent functions of the entity.

Clause 16 sets out restrictions that apply to the publication or disclosure of information obtained by the Commission under clause 14. In general, the Commission will only be able to publish the information in statistical or summary form, unless the information is otherwise publicly available, the Commission has the consent of the entity that the information was obtained from, or publication or disclosure is required by law.

Review of Commission

Clause 17 provides for a review of the operation and effectiveness of the Commission to be commenced 5 years after this legislation comes into force.

Consequential amendments

Clause 18 gives effect to the consequential amendments set out in Schedule 2.