The effects of mental illness are felt across our nation. Recent reports from Parliamentary inquiries and independent reviews have presented strong evidence for change in the way governments respond to mental illness. In February 2006, Australian leaders recognised that mental health is a major problem for the Australian community and committed to reform the mental health system in Australia. The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has agreed to a National Action Plan on Mental Health. The Plan provides a strategic framework that emphasises coordination and collaboration between government, private and non-government providers in order to deliver a more seamless and connected care system, so that people with mental illness are able to participate in the community. All governments have invested significantly in mental health services in recent years, with the National Mental Health Report 2005 finding that Australian governments spent a total of $3.2 billion in 2002-03. However we all acknowledge that more needs to be done. This National Action Plan presents a unique opportunity to support people to manage their mental illness and make best use of services that will work for them, their families and carers in a more integrated way. This will require collaboration between Commonwealth, State, and Territory governments, and between the government and non-government sectors. Governments have committed to a new model of community care for people with severe mental illness and complex needs, who are most at risk of falling through the gaps in the system. COAG recognises that it will take time to strengthen the capacity of our mental health services. This National Action Plan outlines a series of initiatives that will be implemented over the five-year period, comprising a significant investment from all governments. The value of measures covered in the Individual Implementation Plans totals approximately $4 billion over five years. All governments have agreed to continued investment in the area after this time. The Plan aims to improve mental health and facilitate recovery from illness through a greater focus on promotion, prevention and early intervention; improved access to mental health services, including in Indigenous and rural communities; more stable accommodation and support; and meaningful participation in recreational, social, employment and other activities in the community. Improving the care system will involve a focus on better coordinated care and building workforce capacity. The success of the Plan will require continuing effort by all governments. COAG has therefore agreed to new arrangements for the Commonwealth and States and Territories to work together to implement our commitments in the most effective way. The Plan is an historic step towards governments working together to achieve better outcomes for people with mental illness. Together these reforms will significantly contribute to the wellbeing of people with mental illness, and their families and communities.