Suicide Mortality Review Committee terms of reference – updated February 2020


1. The Suicide Mortality Review Committee (“the Committee”) is a Mortality Review Committee, appointed under section 59E of the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000 (“the Act”) by the Health Quality & Safety Commission (“the Commission”).

2. A Mortality Review Committee is a ‘statutory advisor’ to the Commission. The role of such a committee is to independently perform its functions, within the scope set by the Commission. These terms of reference constitute notice under Section 59E (1) of the Act.


The functions of Mortality Review Committees are set out in section 59E (1) (a) and (b) of the Act.

3. The Committee is required to work within their agreed work plans and budgets to:

3.a. review and report to the Commission on deaths that are within the Committee’s scope, with a view to reducing deaths and to supporting continuous quality improvement

3.b. advise on any other matter related to mortality that the Commission specifies in writing

3.c. develop strategic plans and methodologies that are designed to reduce morbidity and mortality and are relevant to the Committee’s functions

3.d. give effect to the Commission’s responsibilities under Te Tiriti o Waitangi by implementing Te Pou, Māori responsive rubric and guidelines and considering advice from Ngā Pou Arawhenua and other Māori stakeholders, to ensure that review methodology, reports and recommendations contribute to achieving equitable outcomes for Māori

3.e. share information with other MRC(s) if the disclosing MRC considers that:

3.e.i the information to be shared is relevant to their own functions and that of the receiving MRC(s); and

3.e.ii sharing the information with the receiving MRC would not be inconsistent with the protections set out in the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act for information held by MRCs.

Applicable provisions

4. The provisions of Schedule 5 to the Act apply in relation to a Mortality Review Committee (section 59E of the Act).


5. The Committee will be required to consider suicide and other mortality and morbidity as directed by the Commission in writing, or as specified within the Committee’s agreed work programme.

6. For the purposes of these terms of reference suicide mortality is considered to be all deaths resulting from intentionally killing oneself.

7. The Committee will also undertake all activities to ensure that the requirements of the agreement with the Ministry of Health are met.

Expected Activities

8. The Committee is expected to oversee mortality review to ensure that relevant, evidence-based advice is provided to the Commission as quickly as practicable.

9. The Committee is required to work within their agreed work programme and budgets to:

9.a. review and report to the Commission on deaths that are within the Committee’s scope, with a view to reducing deaths and to supporting continuous quality improvement by promoting quality assurance programmes

9.b. advise on any other matter related to mortality that the Commission specifies in writing in alignment with the Commission Statement of Intent 2017-2021.

9.c. develop strategic plans and methodologies that are designed to reduce morbidity and mortality and inequity and are relevant to the Committee’s functions.

10. The Committee is expected to support the development and enhancement of systems to:

10.a. ensure the security of personal information referred to in clause 3 of Schedule 5 of the Act

10.b. provide the Commission with advance notice of media statements, public comment or publications

10.c. oversee and advise the researcher(s) that will be contracted to collect and analyse data and test different review methods

10.d. use the information developed by the researcher(s) to develop and share effective recommendations that:

10.d.i. are useful for policy development at a national level

10.d.ii. can inform services and the community of ways to improve services and reduce mortality and morbidity.

11. The Committee is expected to support the development and enhancement of positive working relationships, with

11.a. existing Mortality Review Committees and the Commission to ensure coordination and integration of functions, minimise duplication, and improve efficiency and sustainability

11.b. relevant government bodies

11.c. relevant stakeholders and stakeholder organisations

11.d. the MRC Māori Caucus, Ngā Pou Arawhenua

12. In carrying out its functions, the Committee is expected to ensure:

12.a. appropriate consultation when developing methods to carry out its functions and disseminate its findings

12.b. any advice and recommendations comply with the laws of New Zealand

12.c. a plan for recommendation dissemination is made with the Commission (including any publications) within agreed budgets.

13. The Committee is expected to submit a proposed three-year rolling Work Plan to the Commission by December of each year, for the following three financial years. If approved, budget will be assigned to the Work Plan. The Committee is required to achieve the Work Plan within the assigned budget.

14. The Committee is expected to submit an Annual Report to the Commission, which will include:

14.a. a summary of the Committee’s work

14.b. the Committee’s advice and recommendations

14.c. the Committee’s rationale for its advice and any relevant evidence and/or documentation.


15. The Committee will have a maximum of eight members, which will include the following expertise:

15.a. One member will have relevant lived experience / consumer experience and will provide a consumer perspective and be well networked to consumer groups.

15.b. The other seven members will have expertise that includes the following:

15.b.i. knowledge of mortality review systems

15.b.ii. knowledge of suicide and suicide prevention

15.b.iii. knowledge of Māori suicide issues

15.b.iv. knowledge of suicide from a service user / family perspective

15.b.v. knowledge of research methods and process, particularly in relation to health and social systems knowledge of data and information gathering systems and analysis

15.b.vii. clinical experience in mental health and addiction services,

15.b.viii. an understanding of topics surrounding inequity and inequitable outcomes

15.b.ix. a knowledge of health inequities.

16. The Committee may be advised from time to time. Advisors may be sought from the Ministry of Health, Oranga Tamariki, or other agencies and organisations that the Committee may determine useful.

17. The Committee is expected to self-determine its operations, with the advice of the Secretariat and within budget.

17.a. Co-option of additional expertise can be made within budget (to the Committee or to working groups of the Committee), but co-opted members will not have voting rights and will not be entitled to membership fees.

18. Chair and Deputy Chair

18.a. The Commission will appoint a Chair and a Deputy Chair to the Committee. The Chair is expected to preside at every meeting of the Committee at which they are present, unless they deputise their responsibilities to the Deputy Chair.

18.b. The Chair of the Committee (or Deputy Chair) is expected to attend regular meetings of all the Mortality Review Committees’ Chairs (“Chairs’ Meetings”) to ensure cooperation and integration across Committees wherever possible, and the best allocation of limited resources.

18.c. The Chair of the Committee (or Deputy Chair) will be required to meet with the Commission, on request.

18.d. The Chair of the Committee (or Deputy Chair) may be required to attend other Committee meetings at the request of the Commission.

19. Managing Conflicts of Interest

19.a. Members must perform their functions in good faith, honestly and impartially and avoid situations that might compromise their integrity or otherwise lead to conflicts of interest. Proper observation of these principles will protect the Committee and its members and will ensure that it retains public confidence.

19.b. When members believe they have a potential conflict of interest on a subject that will prevent them from reaching an impartial decision or undertaking an activity consistent with the Committee’s functions, they must declare that conflict of interest and withdraw themselves from the discussion and/or activity.

20. Confidentiality

20.a. The maintenance of confidentiality is crucial to the functioning of the Committee.

20.b. Members must note the statutory requirements in section 59E(6) of the Act, which prevents disclosure of information of the kind described in clause 3 of schedule 5 of the Act.

20.c. Under this clause, information means any information that is personal information within the meaning of section 2(1) of the Privacy Act 1993; and that became known to any member or executive officer or agent of a Mortality Review Committee only because of the Committee’s functions being carried out (for example, because it is contained in a document created, and made available to the member or executive officer or agent, only because of those functions being carried out), whether or not the carrying out of those functions is completed.

20.d. Members must note that the disclosure of information contrary to schedule 5 of the Act is an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 (s 59E(6)).

21. Meetings will usually be held in Wellington. Actual and reasonable expenses for activities required by the Committee of its members (e.g., travel, accommodation, literature searches) will be met from the Committee’s budget provided prior approval is received.

22. The timing and frequency of meetings is to be coordinated with the Secretariat to fit within the allocated budget.

23. The Committee will regulate its own procedures, according to State Services Commission requirements and guidelines to ensure that a record of decisions is maintained.


24. The Commission employs staff to assist the Committee, funded by the Committee’s allocated budget. The Committee is expected to work constructively and cooperatively with the Secretariat, and vice-versa.

25. The Secretariat provides:

25.a. expert subject matter knowledge and expertise, policy analysis and analytical support

25.b. guidance on governmental and ministerial processes

25.c. budget management, contract management and service procurement support to assist the Committee to achieve its work programme within its allocated budget

25.d. central communications systems support for correspondence and public relations purposes, including secure communication between Committee Members and Agents

25.e. liaison on behalf of the Committee within and across government and non-government organisations

25.f. administrative support to organise, minute and follow up on committee meetings and/ or working groups as agreed within the work programme and within the budget set

25.g. additional support for the Committee to carry out its functions, as agreed and budgeted for in the work programme.


26. These Terms of Reference will be reviewed three years from the date at which they are approved by the Commission.

Last updated 05/03/2020