2017 Winners

TheMHS Learning Network is pleased to announce the 2017 TheMHS Awards winners. The winners were presented with their awards at TheMHS Conference in Sydney on Wednesday 30 August.
We were honoured to welcome to TheMHS Awards Presentation Ceremony,

Professor The Honourable Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO,
TheMHS Awards Ambasssador for 2017
The Honourable Greg Hunt, MP,
Federal Minister for Health and Minister for Sport, who presented the awards.

For more information about the award winners, download the Awards Booklet.

View Photos from the Awards
To access, use password: TheMHS


Helen Morton

Perth, WA

Helen Morton was the Western Australian Minister for Mental Health; Disability Services; Child Protection between 14 December 2010 – 31 March 2016. During her two terms, Helen was responsible for significant change in the mental health landscape; leading important reform and introducing policies, plans and decisions which reinforced person-centred care, recovery focus, prevention and early intervention.

During Helen’s time in government, WA introduced the Mental Health Act, completed the Mental Health Ten Year Plan and was the first jurisdiction in Australia to establish a Mental Health Commission.

Helen was a strong supporter of the community mental health sector – both politically and personally. She made time to attend mental health forums in a professional capacity; and events on weekends, reflecting her personal interest of being involved with – and supporting – her local community.

This award represents an acknowledgement of an exceptional contribution, the results of which will flow on to enhance the mental health and wellbeing of all.

Each year individuals are nominated for this award by their peers. The winner is then selected by a panel of experts from across Australia.

Further Information

Pamela Rutledge receives TheMHS Award

Pamela Rutledge

Sydney, NSW

Pamela Rutledge is an inspiring visionary leader who is a highly-motivated, values-driven, results-oriented strategic thinker, with a passion for people’s rights, including people with a disability, a mental health issue and who experience discrimination or social injustice. She has led innovative reforms in social policy, human and disability rights and resources in the health and community service sectors in government and community managed sectors. A Social Worker by profession, Pamela, was appointed the Executive Officer of the Richmond Inquiry in 1982. In 2012 Pamela led the successful merger of two large and longstanding community managed mental health organisations to become Flourish Australia. Pamela is currently CEO of Flourish Australia and Chair of the NSW Mental Health Co-ordinating Council, having been on its voluntary board for many years. She is also a member of the board of Community Mental Health Australia and part-time Member of the Mental Health Review Tribunal.

Pamela Rutledge is the CEO of Flourish Australia, a leading community managed organisation providing community based support and employment services for over 4700 people living with a mental health issue and psychosocial disabilities across NSW and South-East Queensland each year. With an operating budget of $56 million, generated through funding from Australian and State governments, PHNs, and its own community businesses, Flourish employs 700 staff, 50% of whom identify as having a personal lived experience of mental health issues and recovery. Flourish Australia employs 145 Lived Experience Peer Workers, the largest number of Peer Workers in any single service in Australia.

This award represents an acknowledgement of an exceptional contribution, the results of which will flow on to enhance the mental health and wellbeing of all.

Each year individuals are nominated for this award by their peers. The winner is then selected by a panel of experts from across Australia.

Further Information

TheMHS Medal

TheMHS Medal 2017 – presented to Mental Health First Aid Australia (Hon Greg Hunt, Betty Kitchener OAM and Nataly Bovopoulos

Mental Health First Aid Australia

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Australia is a national, not-for-profit, health promotion charity focused on mental health first aid training and research.

Its mission is to provide high quality, evidence-based mental health first aid education to everyone. Its vision is a community where everyone has the first aid skills to support people with mental health problems.

MHFA Australia has 16 FTE staff members and a budgeted expenditure for this year of $2 Million. Funding is derived from fee-for-service training activities, government grants and philanthropy. MHFA Australia trains, then supports a national network of 1,386 MHFA instructors, who have trained over 500,000 members of the public.

The organisation has spread MHFA training to over 20 countries and has in 2017 reached the extraordinary milestone of over 2 million people trained globally.

Extensive research to inform the curriculum and to evaluate MHFA training has shown that it improves mental health knowledge, reduces stigmatising attitudes and increases helping behaviour.

Photo: TheMHS Medal 2017 – presented to Mental Health First Aid Australia (Hon Greg Hunt, Betty Kitchener OAM and Nataly Bovopoulos

Service and Program Awards

Category: Mental Health Promotion or Mental Illness Prevention Program or Project

Service: Into the Light: An Arabic Resource on Psychological Health
إلى النور : الموارد العربية للصحة النفسية

Organisation: Being – Mental Health And Wellbeing Consumer Advisory Group


Into the Light project was a partnership between Being, Metro Assist, Transcultural Mental Health Centre and Liverpool Migrant Resource Centre. The project developed a three part video resource that aims to engage the Arabic-speaking communities in NSW on psychological health, distress and seeking help. According to the 2011 census, Arabic is the most popular language other than English to be spoken at home in NSW (2.7% of NSW population). Anecdotally we know that many Arabic-speaking people have experienced psychological distress; it is not well understood, is heavily stigmatised within communities, and few Arabic-speaking people currently access mental health support services in NSW. In order to respond to these issues a resource was required that was relevant, useful and culturally appropriate for Arabic-speaking communities in NSW. The development of the videos was led by the Arabic speaking communities and produced in Arabic with English subtitles.


Being is the independent, state-wide peak organisation for people with a lived experience of mental illness (consumers) in NSW. We work with consumers to achieve and support systemic change. Being’s core funding of $581,361 is provided by the Mental Health Commission of NSW and project funding comes from a range of sources. Being has 9 staff, 4 casual Committee Representatives and 2 volunteers.

Further Information

Category: Assessment and/or Treatment Program or Service

 Holistic Model of Care for Women with Addiction and Mental Health Issues

Organisation:Alcohol And Drug Foundation NSW-
Kathleen York House


Kathleen York House, an NGO programme run by ADFNSW is a residential facility for women with substance addiction and other mental health issues. It is a 7 bed facility where women can bring their children. It is a long term rehabilitation centre running 6 month residential, 2 month transition and a 12 month aftercare programmes. By the end of aftercare, women are reintegrated back into the community to lead a independent, empowering and drug free lives. All women, be they single, pregnant, or with children are supported at KYH. It has a very high staff-client ratio and follows a Through Care model of supporting women at any stage of change. The programme is funded by the Commonwealth and NSW Health Departments.


Kathleen York House (KYH), located in Sydney’s inner west, offers an abstinence based Through Care model of recovery with the aim of reducing intergenerational abuse, as well as accommodating women at various levels of change. This model incorporates a Day Program (3 months), Residential Rehabilitation (6 months) and 1 year Aftercare programme. KYH is significant in the drug and alcohol treatment services sector as it is one of the very few residential rehabilitation services available for women to enter with their children. In collaboration with FACS, KYH also facilitates the reconnection and re-establishment of relationships between mothers and children, in situations where the children were removed, with the ultimate goal of the children being returned to their mother’s care. KYH supports women to overcome substance dependence and to reduce its harmful impacts on their lives, and the lives of their children, families, and the community.

Further Information

Category: Psychosocial and/or Support

Homelessness, Mental Health and Holistic Support: A lifestyle and wellness model in residential aged care

Organisation: The Salvation Army Aged Care Plus


Montrose Aged Care Plus Centre is a residential home situated on Sydney Harbour, at Balmain. It is a specialist home for men who have mental health issues and come from homeless backgrounds, extreme social disadvantage or the justice system. The home has a very unique demographic and contains residents who are usually “difficult to place”. Montrose Aged Care Plus Centre is the only residential aged care service of its type within Australia that provides specialist mental health support to older male Australians from the demographic outlined. The Centre is predominately funded by the Australian Government for the provision of aged care services and supports ageing in place. Montrose Aged Care Plus Centre is home to 44 residents. Life expectancy of the resident demographic is low due to extreme social disadvantage. Through equality and empowerment, the model effectively supports independence and wellness through shared goals.


The Salvation Army Aged Care Plus provides industry leading aged care services to over 1700 older Australians across New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland. Aged Care Plus delivers physical, emotional and spiritual care through 16 residential aged care centres, six centrally located retirement villages, one respite and day centre in the Australian Capital Territory and a range of Home and Community Care Programs assisting older Australians in their home. Aged Care Plus is an expression of The Salvation Army Eastern Territory, and employs more than 1400 people to deliver loving care to those in need.

Further Information

Category: Mental Health Consumer and Mental Health Peer Work (Joint Winners)

Growing the Peer Workforce

Organisation:Flourish Australia


Flourish Australia is a leading employer of mental health peer workers. Peer Workers are integral parts of mental health support delivered across Flourish Australia’s programs and service sites, with 145 employed at present. A growth from 20 peer workers in 2014 to 145 today has been facilitated by Flourish Australia’s innovative “Why not a peer worker?” Strategy.

In May 2015 Flourish Australia launched the “Why Not a Peer Worker?” Strategy and supporting program of:

• Recruitment

• Education and training

• Community of Practice

• Mentoring, and

• Communications strategy for all stakeholders.

Our Peer Worker roles are real, valuable, paid jobs; at Flourish Australia Peer Workers carry out the same non-clinical roles that mental health workers deliver. However, it is a requirement that they use their lived experience of mental health issues, trauma, and recovery in a purposeful way to support the people accessing our services.


Flourish Australia is a large community managed organisation supporting over 4700 people with lived experience of a mental health issue annually across 65 sites and through 700 staff. We provide community based supports that assist people to find and make a home, get a job and to make friends and learn new things. Flourish Australia also operates two headspace Centres (Bankstown and Broken Hill) and is in the process of establishing a community liaison psychiatry service in partnership with Went West Ltd (Western Sydney PHN). Fifty per cent of Flourish Australia’s staff report a personal lived experience of a mental health issue and recovery, and thirty three percent of our front-line staff are mental health peer workers.

Further Information

Category: Mental Health Consumer and Mental Health Peer Work (Joint Winners)

Grow, A Program of Personal Development. Celebrating 60 years

Organisation: Grow


There are approximately 180 Grow Groups nationally, including special groups for young adults, carers and prison groups. 2000 members currently attend Groups. Groups are weekly and free and intake is informal. Grow also operates 3 residential services, a 17-bed facility in Sydney for people with comorbid mental illness and addiction. Our 5-bed resident in ACT is a transition program to the Community. Our Queensland Program is self-funded providing short term accommodation for people transitioning to the community. The National office oversees organisational strategic management and works alongside a national board and eight branches. The organisation manages over $6 million funding received from each state and territory and the Commonwealth Government annually. Grow has approximately 58 staff. 95% of staff have lived experience with mental illness. Staff work alongside 350 member volunteers, 98% of whom are recovering members. Grow has national accreditation for ISO9001 and the National Mental Health Standards.


Grow has been working in the Mental Health space for 60 years, founded in 1957 Grow has gone from strength to strength evolving with the times. From a time when no one believed that a person could recover from Mental Illness, let alone live a purposeful life. Grow has pioneered recovery practices, peer support and consumer advocacy both here in Australia and overseas. Research has validated the effectiveness and impact that the Grow Program delivers. Reduction in:

  • Hospitalisation
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Reliance on clinical services

Our courageous members routinely report improved relationships and sense of personal value. Grow continues to pioneer innovative practice though its extended programs including:

  • Residential
  • Prison
  • Carers
  • Remote and rural online mutual help groups
  • Schools
  • Prevention and early intervention

All applying Grow’s 60 years of the lived experience of recovery.

Further Information

Tom Trauer Award

Fiona Shand

Black Dog Institute

Fiona Shand PhD is a Senior Research Fellow/Research Fellow/Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Black Dog Institute, UNSW

“Excellence and Innovation in Suicide Prevention”

This research commenced in 2013, iBobbly is the trial of the world’s first suicide prevention app designed especially for use by Indigenous people. The app uses evidence-based therapies proven to reduce suicidal thinking and was developed in partnership with the local Kimberly WA Indigenous community, including Alive and Kicking Goals Suicide Prevention Program, to ensure that the content was culturally relevant and relatable for Indigenous young people. The app format leaps two of the major hurdles to help seeking – perceived stigma and geographical isolation. Once the app is downloaded, users don’t need ongoing internet access and the program is password protected, maintaining confidentiality if the technology is shared with others. The Kimberly based pilot study conducted using Randomised Controlled Trial methodology demonstrated favourable results. A large-scale evaluation is currently being rolled out across several Australian states.

Further Information

Early Career Research Award

Winner for Excellence

Gemma Sharp

Curtain University

Research Project: Psychological Motivations and Outcomes of Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery


Gemma Sharp PhD completed her doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia in 2016, before moving to Perth, Western Australia where she is a Psychological Researcher and Clinical Psychologist Registrar at Curtin University.

The demand for female genital cosmetic surgery (FGCS) has undergone a rapid increase recently. FGCS is not medically indicated and long-term safety and effectiveness data are lacking. The research showed that sociocultural factors, in particular, idealised media representations of female genitals were powerful influences on women’s attitudes toward their genital appearance and their decisions to undergo labiaplasty. I also found that a short video could effectively improve women’s knowledge of normal female genital appearance and thus the video could potentially be used in clinical settings as well as with younger girls in sexual education classes. The research findings also showed that women do not experience the post-surgical improvements in psychological and sexual well-being that they may have expected. These results could help medical professionals identify women with unrealistic expectations who may benefit more from a psychological therapy approach, which is the focus of my proposed future research.


This research was conducted at the Flinders University School of Psychology in Adelaide, South Australia. The School of Psychology is one of the leading schools of psychology in Australia which employs over 40 academic and professional staff members. The research in the School was rated as above world standard in the most recent Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) evaluation. The School’s research strengths are broadly classified into clinical/health psychology, social psychology, applied cognitive psychology, development across the lifespan and psychophysiology. The School also has a number of specialist clinics offering services to address psychological issues such as eating disorders, trauma and sleep problems.

Further Information

Winner for Innovation

Bridianne O’Dea

Black Dog Institute, Faculty Of Medicine, University Of New South Wales

Research Project: Smooth Sailing: The design and delivery of an online school-based mental health service for adolescents


Bridianne O’Dea PhD is currently a Research Fellow at the Black Dog Institute, University of New South Wales.

The Smooth Sailing Project involves the design, build, delivery, and evaluation of an online, stepped-care mental health service for high school youth. This “virtual clinic” allows young people’s mental health to be screened, treated, and monitored, entirely within the school context. This new type of service model is based on allocating students to a “step” as determined by their symptom severity. The service then delivers a personalised treatment plan which incorporates internet interventions where appropriate, so that face-to-face psychological care is reserved for those most in need. Outcomes include improved detection of mental health issues among youth, increased help-seeking behaviour, and reduced symptoms. This project is the first of its kind. It was designed in partnership with young people, their parents, teachers, and school counsellors. It is currently being trialled in five high schools, and is being offered to an additional 24 schools throughout 2017 and 2018.


The Black Dog Institute, founded in 2002, is internationally recognised as a pioneer in the identification, prevention and treatment of mental illness. Based at Prince of Wales Hospital Sydney, Black Dog is a translational medical research institute that aims to reduce the incidence of mental illness and the stigma around it, to actively reduce suicide rates and empower everyone to live the most mentally healthy lives possible. The Institute aims to improve the lives of people affected by mental illness through the rapid translation of high quality research into improved clinical treatments, increased accessibility to mental health services and delivery of long-term public health solutions. The Institute adopts a unique approach that incorporates clinical services with their cutting-edge research, health professional training and community education programs. The Institute combines expertise in clinical management with innovative research to develop new, and more effective strategies for people living with mental illness.

Further Information

Media Journalism Awards

Text Journalism

Rebecca Kamm

Entry: Understanding the Hidden Suicide Problem among Women in Medicine

Organisation: Broadly (VICE Media)


This story was published on Broadly.vice.com on 7th December 2016. It also ran on VICE Australia (vice.com). It was written shortly after the publication of a study highlighting the disproportionately high rate of suicide by women in medicine in Australia. The study, by Deakin University’s Dr Allison Milner, found that female nurses take their lives at a rate nearly four times higher than working women in the general population. This finding was reported by news titles, but without the depth afforded by feature-length journalism. The aim was to go deeper, and ask women in medicine for their experiences and their understanding of the issue. The article was received extraordinarily well by our female readership. It circulated widely among young women at medical school, with many writing in to express how glad they were the issue was being discussed in depth.

Further Information

Sound/Vision Journalism

Lynne Malcolm

Entry: Understanding & Destigmatizing Mental Illness

Organisation: ABC Radio National


This entry is a series of three episodes which provide understanding, personal insights and potential pathways to recovery from mental ill health. The aim of each is to reduce stigma around mental illness in order to offer support and understanding to those affected. In the first program, “Emotional CPR” we meet a leading psychiatrist with his own lived experience who aims to shift the paradigm of mental health services, to empower people in their own recovery using his technique called emotional CPR approach. The second part of the entry is “The psychology of hoarding”. We hear from people who hoard, and the support network treating those troubled by this behaviour. Thirdly, “Dissociation & coping with Trauma” explores the highly stigmatised Dissociative Identity Disorder through the eyes of one woman with lived experience and a psychiatrist who specialises in its treatment.

Further Information

Special Journalism Award – Regional/Rural/Community Focus

Yvonne O’Hara

Entry: Down on the Farm – mental health and rural families in the south

Organisation: Southern Rural Life



I was awarded a $10,000 grant from the Mental Health Foundation in 2015, which I used to research and write a series of stories about the impact mental distress had on rural families. “Down on the Farm – mental health and rural families in the south” was published in Southern Rural Life and Central Rural Life, in June 2016, and distributed to 38,500 box holders in Otago and Southland. It outlined some of the support and help that was available to the partners and children of farming adults, who were dealing with stress and other mental health issues. I talked to counsellors, Rural Women New Zealand and the Otago and Southland rural support trusts convenors. In addition, it emphasised mental illness was not something to be ashamed of, as well as reducing discrimination and stigma, and encouraging people to talk about their problems.

Further Information

Special Journalism Award – Regional/Rural/Community Focus

Gerard Smyth

Entry: Christchurch Dilemmas, 2016. Do we have a crisis of Mental Health?

Organisation: Frank Film Ltd


Christchurch Dilemmas is an interactive web documentary, first distributed in July 2016. It’s interactive in that the viewer can watch the first or primary documentary: ‘Is there a crisis of Mental Health’ (duration 3.46″) and then enquire further by watching 3 satellite documentaries.

1/.Home and Family -dur 4’26”
2/.Ōtautahi Creative Space-dur 4’22”
3/. Youth Hub. -dur 4’29”

The motivation for these stories springs from my own experiences of living in Christchurch. The trauma and pain of my neighbours in earthquake recovering Christchurch is all too obvious. Five years on, many of the affected are by no means in recovery. In common, the Mental Health agencies profiled are depicted as overwhelmed and under-funded. Stressed MH professionals plead for more resources. Nearly a year later, agencies portrayed have seen their resources grow in one way or another – mostly by increased Central Government funding. Perhaps these films helped.

Further Information

Do you know a potential award winner?

2018 Winners