Amplifying The Consumer Voice

The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a better, coordinated mental health system with the voices, rights and recovery of people experiencing mental health issues at its centre. We helped by capturing the stories and sharing important messages about the changes.

The Challenge

Almost half of the Victorian population experience mental illness over their life, yet the mental health system has been failing to support those who turned to it. In February 2019, the Governor of Victoria issued letters patent, which include terms of reference for a Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health.

The mental health system is complex:

  • Getting support and accessing services could depend on where you lived and your age.
  • Too often, people were in a crisis before they could get help.
  • People were using different ways to access help.
  • There were differences in the public and private systems.
  • State and Federal governments fund some services, and some are covered by private insurance. But others required out-of-pocket payments.
  • Some services had long wait times. Some have unclear or inconsistent entry criteria.
  • Often there were gaps between different parts of the system
  • And people also often need other health and social services.

The challenge for us was to listen and record the stories and experiences of those various groups and individuals, in a safe, secure manner. These were stories that could not be shared publicly, and as always, we took our duty of care and NDA very seriously.

At a Glance

  • Project: Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System
  • Delivered: June 2021
  • Duration: 24 months
  • Category: Graphic Recording, Explainer Video, Health, Government

Go to the videos

Our Approach

The Royal Commission was established to make real improvements to the future mental health system for all Victorians.

To do that, it needed to listen to the voices of those Victorians—those with personal experience of people living with mental ill-health, their families, and carers. Engagement took place through working groups, focus groups, regular discussions and consultation on models of care.

We graphically recorded 34 of these engagements, capturing the thoughts and conversations, the experiences, successes, and failures of system interactions over a prolonged engagement. The first five sessions happened in-person, but once CoVid restrictions were in place, the interviews (and graphic recordings) went virtual.

We captured focus groups for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Carers, People in the Justice System, Carers of children, LGBTIQ Carers, Young Carers, Aboriginal Carers, Crisis Response Carers. We also captured stories of those that that worked with Suicide Prevention, Community Integration, Alcohol and Other Drugs, Housing Consumers, Bed Based Services, Young People and more.

Of course, paramount to our operation was making sure that the privacy and confidentiality of these very personal information and shared stories was maintained.

It was challenging and extraordinarily rewarding work.

Our Solution

The work of Royal Commissions is vital, and it’s important for the community to understand and be informed.

We created three public facing videos for the Royal Commission:

  • At the beginning of the Commission, we created an overview video that explained what it was, and what it hoped to achieve.
  • For the release of the interim report in 2019, we created another video. This video outlined some of the important recommendations from the Commission, that would respond to immediate needs. It would also help prepare the way for the system-wide reform that will follow the Commission’s final report.
  • For that final report, delivered in 2020, we made another video that outlined the system-wide changes needed to create a mental health and wellbeing system that is contemporary and adaptable.

We kept the same illustrator throughout this process, branding the video series with its own look and feel. When dealing with sensitive subject matter such as this, the hand drawn style really comes into its own, without overshadowing or diminishing the importance of the work, but allowing it to be accessible and inclusive with the stories that people had shared.

The Outcome

We could measure the outcome of this work as how many times the videos have been viewed (over 10 thousand times) or the amount of graphic recording engagements. But really the outcome—that the consumer’s voice was not only heard, but amplified, is more telling than any quantifiable metric.

We were part of a Royal Commission that set out a 10-year vision for a future mental health system where people can access treatment close to their homes and in their communities—changes that will make a real difference in the lives of Victorians.

Since then, we’ve worked with healthcare providers, hospitals, PHNs and more in bringing some of the 65 recommendations to life. And we’re continuing to do that important work.

We couldn’t be prouder.


We created videos to capture an overview of the commission, a summary of the interim report, and a summary of the final report.

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