Project objectives

In 2014, the NSW Mental Health Commission developed Living Well: A Strategic Plan for Mental Health in NSW which included recommendations and key performance indicators to the NSW Government and identified the need for structural, long-term, whole of government reforms. The NSW Government responded to Living Well with a commitment of $115 million in funding to establish the Mental Health Reform Program, described as a ‘once in a generation overhaul of mental health care service delivery (NSW Health, 2014).

The objective of the initial three years of the reform was to strengthen community-based mental health services and create the foundation on which to continue reforms across Government over the next seven years, including collaboration with key partners (other NSW Government agencies).

The NSW Ministry of Health sought to evaluate the extent to which Tranche 1 – the first three years of the Government’s 10-year reform of Mental Health – was achieving its objectives and to identify potential areas where the program might be strengthened.

NSW Health

Our approach

To comprehensively assess Tranche 1 of the NSW Mental Health Reform and address the high-level evaluation questions outlined by the NSW Ministry of Health, we designed and undertook a mixed-method evaluation. The approach consisted of:

  • Reviewing evaluations of the initiatives supported by the Reforms in Tranche 1 (to the extent that these had occurred).
  • Gathering and analysing data on indicators from the Mental Health Reform Monitoring Framework.

Surveying key informants and interviewing key stakeholders,  including representatives from NSW Treasury, Department of Justice, Department of Family and Community Services, Department of Premier and Cabinet, NSW Ministry of Health, NSW Mental Health Commission, the Mental Health Coordinating Council, community managed service delivery organisations, Local Health Districts, clinicians and social workers.


The evaluation highlighted substantial progress on the five strategic objectives, but also identified gaps. Areas of focus were identified for the next Tranche as well as potential barriers to achieving further progress on the reform objectives.

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