First Step contributed in many ways to the Royal Commission over the journey:
- Commissioners Penny Armytage and Dr Alex Cockram attended a 2.5 hour Zoom ‘visit’ to First Step where they heard from senior staff, a client, and the family of a client
- Several First Step clients took place in a face-to-face lived-experience forum
- Joe Fishburn – Mental Health Services, Tania Wolff – First Step Legal, and Patrick Lawrence - CEO, took part in forums on community services, health justice partnerships and trauma-informed care
- Patrick Lawrence and First Step Legal each submitted comprehensive Witness Statements
It was crucial that First Step’s unique perspective was heard by the Commissioners. And it is really important that our insights. clients, and expert opionions appear in numerous sections throughout the Final Report, particularly in Volume 2 'Collaboration to support good mental health and wellbeing' and Volume 3 'Promoting inclusion and addressing inequalities'.
Of greatest significance is Chapter 22 (Volume 3) 'Integrated approach to treatment, care and support for people living with mental illness and substance use or addiction'. This chapter outlines three models of care, one or more of which must be adhered to by any organisation seeking funding. The first of these models, the most integrated example, is ‘multi-disciplinary teams' - and First Step is the example provided:
“An example of care provided by multidisciplinary teams is that delivered by First Step (mentioned throughout this chapter). First Step’s model of care involves multidisciplinary practitioners and clinicians working together to deliver care in a single setting. The team includes GPs, an addiction specialist physician, nurses (including mental health nurses), lawyers, clinical and counselling psychologists and a psychiatrist.”
The Final Report also quotes the World Health Organization stating that ‘[t]ruly integrated care involves more than co‑locating health workers with diverse specialties into the same building.’ First Step has a decade of experience in this area, and we can clearly explain to the new regional commissioning bodies and Mental Health Reform Victoria, just exactly what is involved in developing that ecosystem of whole-person care. It is crucial that First Step’s unique voice continues to be heard on these issues, and this report will greatly aid in our advocacy for the most vulnerable people in our community.
Below is the Case Study of First Step that appears in Volume 1 of the Final Report: