Mental Health Royal Commission
Laying the foundations for a new approach to mental health
- What we did
- Brand Communication
Approximately 1 in 5 Victorians will experience mental illness in any given year.
The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System was established as a result of the widespread acknowledgment that mental health services across the state have reached crisis point. Many people living with mental illness are not receiving the treatment, care and support when and where it would offer the greatest benefit. The Royal Commission will map out a plan of action that drives major changes to Victoria’s mental health services. It has a mandate to fundamentally redesign the system, and this complex task will continue to be the focus of its work in the coming six months. The Interim Report represents the beginning of that process. Liquorice partnered with the Commission to design the Report, page structural elements, charts, diagrams, infographics, and other design features. We aimed to bring clarity and accessibility to the dense and sometimes harrowing content we were tasked with communicating.
A key first step for the Commission to achieve their mission was the creation of the Interim Report, the first of two major reports which represents a summary of what the Commission has learned so far. The 670-page document contains a number of priority recommendations that address immediate needs and lays the foundations for a new approach to mental health.
Tasked with the design, conceptual direction and layout of the Report and Executive Summary, we got to work with the first step of the process, developing a concept that would effectively characterise the key values and traits of the Commission's work. This step went through a series of refinements as we set out to ensure the design of the Report spoke to and included as many people as possible.
The variety, volume and sensitivity of the content, together with a challenging timeline, required a creative and meticulous approach. One key visual motif appears in various iterations throughout the Report, building consistency and visual interest to complement the dense data. This geometric circular form evokes a sense of focus, community and person-centred care. Clear typographic hierarchy and a warm design language express the ideas of holism and connectedness.
The final design also drew inspiration from Wemba Wemba elder Aunty Nellie Flagg, who during an Aborigines Advancement League hearing for the Commission stated that "Connectedness to culture, country and community is the foundation stone for building stronger individual and collective identities." We felt that her statement resonated with the ideals and mission of the Commission, and we often referred back to it during our refinements to ensure we were continuing in the right direction.
The project itself was evolving constantly, with the final content and data being released incrementally due to the ongoing research, contributions and confidentiality surrounding it. This meant that it was vital that we developed a simple but tightly structured page layout and baseline grid that would accommodate an unknown final page count and help in the sizing of break-out boxes, charts and other infographics on the fly.
We created approximately 180 data visualisations, each one requiring high attention to detail. We worked tirelessly to establish a process to allow us to produce the charts quickly and have them remain consistent. The creation of these infographics proved to be one of the most challenging aspects of this project: we needed to transform complex data into accessible, meaningful and clear communication.
The team at the Commission had been working around the clock to supply content to us, with the document being edited and refined right to the last possible moment. Knowing the bulk of the work would be concentrated in the final weeks of the project, we developed and tested a robust production process prior to the content coming in. Working through the majority of the charts and infographics prior to receiving the content was a key factor in ensuring we met the challenging deadline. Even after all this time, we continue to take away some key learnings from the project:
- Never underestimate the importance of clear, efficient and open communication between client and studio. From the outset, the project saw Liquorice and the team from the Royal Commission work closely together to deliver the highly complex document, and it wouldn't have been possible without great trust, mutual respect, and some serious hard yards from both sides.
- Teamwork makes the dream work! There was fantastic support that came from the whole studio towards the end of the project, with everyone pitching in to help where they could, and all hands on deck late into the nights in the final weeks. The strong Liquorice culture, work ethic, and close working relationships and friendships we have established over many years held us in good stead when the going got tough.
- You can never have enough Grill'd burgers when you are working to a hard deadline!
The Commission aims to provide the community with a clear and ambitious set of actions that will change the system and enable Victorians to experience their best mental health now and into the future. Change is already happening. Both the Commonwealth and State Governments have begun delivering key recommendations from the Report, including new public acute mental health beds and the state-wide roll out of the Hospital Outreach Post-Suicidal Engagement (HOPE) program.
The impacts of the pandemic have brought the urgent crisis into sharp focus. It is clear that now more than ever, we must design a future mental health system that is able to respond to current and emerging needs. The Commission’s recommendations in its Final Report, due in February 2021, will present a bold and innovative approach to transform Victoria’s mental health system.
It was an honour and a privilege to work on such an important project, and we look forward to seeing the outcomes of this landmark Report as we seek to imagine and plan a better future for us all.
To learn more and read the Interim Report, visit The Royal Commission website @ rcvmhs.vic.gov.au.
Design for Print
Shane Loorham: Creative Direction
Anna Gowers: Project Management
Andrew Fiscalini: Animation, Brand Design