Welcome Maggie Toko!

We are delighted to announce that Maggie Toko has been appointed to the key role of MHCC Deputy Commissioner, commencing Wednesday 29 January 2020, and warmly welcome her to our team. This position was previously held by Jennifer Black who is now furthering her contributions to the mental health sector as the new CEO of the Queensland Alliance for Mental Health.

Maggie identifies as Indigenous to Aotearoa and is a lived experience leader who brings a wealth of wisdom and expertise to the MHCC, including extensive experience in senior management and service delivery in community mental health and the welfare sector more broadly. Maggie will be taking a year’s leave of absence from her current role as the CEO of the Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council (VMIAC) to take up the role of Deputy Commissioner at the MHCC. This period of appointment provides for consideration of the implications of the final recommendations of Victoria’s Royal Commission into Mental Health for the future work of both the MHCC and VMIAC following the release of the final report in late 2020.       

Our Commissioner, Dr Lynne Coulson Barr, has highlighted the significance of Maggie’s lived experience to her appointment as Deputy Commissioner, which is a key leadership role in the MHCC: 

'Maggie is widely regarded and respected as an inspirational and transformative leader in the lived experience space and the mental health sector. We are most fortunate to have her join the MHCC and contribute her deep insights and lived experience expertise to the further development of our work’.

These sentiments are echoed by Dr Anthony Stratford, Chair of the MHCC Advisory Council, who is also recognised for his lived experience leadership and expertise, both in Australia and internationally:

‘The MHCC Advisory Council welcomes Maggie’s appointment and looks forward to working with her and build on the ways in which the MHCC’s work is driven by the lived experience of people accessing mental health services through the lived experience framework that we have been working on with staff.’

The role of Deputy Commissioner has overall responsibility for the effective delivery and integration of the MHCC’s complaints resolution and review processes, investigations, and education and engagement activities. In this role Maggie will bring her experience in mental health service provision and her deep understanding of consumer, family and carer experiences, to the further development of approaches which safeguard people’s rights, promote resolution of complaints, and build the capacity of the sector to achieve improved outcomes and services.

Maggie’s background

For the past three years, Maggie has been the CEO of VMIAC which substantially increased  in size and breadth of programs under her leadership. During this period, VMIAC produced key reports and submissions focusing on human rights in mental health, developed a youth leadership program and NDIS support and advocacy service and increased diversity within its membership and programs.

Maggie has also provided advice from a lived experience perspective for many governmental initiatives, including the DHHS ‘Lived Experience Framework’ and the ‘Equally Well in Victoria Framework’. She has been co-chair of the Minister for Mental Health’s Expert Advisory Committee and Lived Experience Advisory Committee and a member of several other committees including Safer Care Victoria’s Mental Health Clinical Network Insight Committee and the Chief Psychiatrist’s committees on restrictive interventions, sexual safety and working with families and carers.

Prior to VMIAC, Maggie worked extensively in homelessness, youth, sexual assault, mental health and drug and alcohol service delivery. Her previous positions include General Manager of Youth, Disability and Industry Services with the Salvation Army Crossroads Network and cohealth Program Manager, North West Youth Support Services. She has also spent time in the Northern Territory teaching the Diploma in Mental Health course to Indigenous students and as a consumer consultant with Reach Out Southern Mental Health. In addition, Maggie started the first Youth Hearing Voices group in Victoria. 

A word from Maggie

We’ll finish with a note from Maggie herself:

'Kia Ora everyone. I am looking forward to my new role with the Mental Health Complaints Commissioner (MHCC).  I hope that I can add to the rich environment of the MHCC by adding value to the approach taken with consumers, families and carers and the work with services and other stakeholders within the sector.  I believe that relationships which are based on mutual respect enable forward thinking and the resolution of issues wherever possible. I welcome the opportunity to  further enhance the voice of consumers, families and carers and to work with services and other stakeholders on the common goal of improving people’s experiences and services' - Maggie Toko