The guiding principle of health care is to serve the needs of the public. Healthcare services are therefore required to be increasingly flexible and open to new approaches to meet changing demands. They must also adjust and expand as new challenges are presented. Public awareness of mental health issues and the current demands placed on health services for access to affordable and appropriate mental health care have never been so great. The introduction of nurse practitioners (NPs) in Australia is a proud and long-anticipated moment for the discipline of nursing. However, a major challenge for the introduction of NPs in Australia will be to reassure medical colleagues, allied health professionals and the public that NPs are able to deliver high-quality primary care. This paper elaborates on the progress of the mental health NP role in Australia. Attention is centred on the characteristics the mental health NP role, the maintenance of professional competency to practise at an advanced clinical level, and the prospects and potential significance of NPs for mental health nursing practice. The nurse-led clinic, implemented through the process of consultation and systematic evaluation, is identified as an avenue for the extension of mental health NP practice in the delivery of autonomous primary care.