2019 Winners

TheMHS Learning Network is pleased to announce the 2019 TheMHS Award winners.

All category winners were presented with their awards at TheMHS Conference in Brisbane on Wednesday 28 August.

We were honoured to welcome to TheMHS Awards Presentation Ceremony,

The Hon. Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO
The Hon. Greg Hunt
MP, Minister for Health

Media Journalism Awards

Text Journalism

Lisa Wachsmuth, Senior Reporter/ Head of News

Entry: Care To QPR Campaign

Organisation: Illawarra Mercury NSW


The Illawarra Mercury started a suicide prevention campaign in July 2018 because we knew that suicide rates in the Illawarra Shoalhaven region remained higher than NSW averages. My editor and I met with the Illawarra Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention Collaborative, which is one of four trial sites in NSW for the Black Dog Institute’s Lifespan project. We worked in collaboration with them to encourage residents to sign up for the QPR suicide prevention online training course. My first articles ran as a double page spread, and on the front page, of the Mercury on July 7, 2018. The campaign ran in 12 Saturday editions, and featured people with lived experience, as well as information and comments from experts from local organisations as well as national organisations like Black Dog and Suicide Prevention Australia. My entry will consist of the double page spread written for the July 7, 2018 edition, which focused on Ann Frankham, a suicide survivor now using her lived experience to help support others. We estimated that our stories were read upwards of 60,000 times on our website. Also we secured $20,000 ($10,000 each from state and federal government) to give 2000 people free access to the online course.


Lisa Wachsmuth is the senior reporter/ head of news at the Illawarra Mercury newspaper in Wollongong. She has worked for the Mercury for 21 years – in that time covering many different news rounds. Currently she’s covering the health round – which focuses on everything from hospitals and individual health issues to articles within the aged care and disability sectors. As the senior reporter/ head of news she’s also responsible for guiding other journalists and directing news content for both our print and online editions.

Further Reading


Cian O’Clery – Series Director

Jenni Wilks – Series Producer

Karina Holden – Executive Producer

Entry: Employable Me

Organisation: Northern Pictures NSW


‘Employable Me’ follows people with Neuro diverse conditions such as Autism, OCD and Tourette Syndrome as they search for meaningful employment.

This uplifting, warm and insightful series draws on experts to uncover people’s hidden skills and to match jobseekers to roles that can harness their strengths.

We all deserve a role in society. That’s what this show is about: striving to belong and play your part. The series looks beyond first impressions to reveal there’s always more than meets the eye.

Participants are warm, funny and generously open. Each story is told from their own perspective. Neuro-psych testing by experts substantiates their skill sets, revealing an astounding cognitive brilliance in some. The job searching results in some truly surprising results.


Established in 2010, NP has produced some of Australia’s most awarded and recognized documentary content and children’s programming for the global market. Our slate includes blue chip natural history, social issues series, comedy and factual entertainment, theatrical documentaries, children’s factual and scripted drama.

Its factual division delivers large-scale factual television and feature documentaries with a focus on wildlife and social issues. It is known for innovation, priding itself on documentary series underpinned by journalistic values, unique access and cinematic sensibilities.  Our critically-acclaimed and award-winning productions include Kakadu (ABC), Changing Minds (ABC), Life on the Reef (ABC, PBS, Arte), Outback (PBS, Network Nine), Employable Me (ABC), Whiteley and Blue (Transmission Films), and Outback (ABC, BBC, PBS).

Further Reading

Special Journalism Award – Regional/Rural/Community Focus

Simon Royal, Journalist

Entry:  The Boy Who Disappeared

Organisation:  ABC News online SA


“The Boy Who Disappeared” was published on the ABC News online national page on August 4th, 2018.

I didn’t know the boy who is the subject of my story well. Indeed my recollection, 40 years later, is we only spoke a couple of times. But I’ve never forgotten his name, nor have I forgotten the odd mix of anger and shame I felt when we were told not to speak of him – shame, that if we did discuss him we’d be breaking some all-important rule, and anger, because at 15 I knew that edict was fundamentally unjust.

Children who end their lives should never, in my view, be treated as broken things to be hidden away. That’s fundamentally why I wrote this story.

I spoke with many people who I went to Nuriootpa High School with. All of them remembered the boy, and all of them thought his story should be told, especially Richard Fechner, with whom I was a cadet in St John’s Ambulance (a lifetime ago!) Apart from the education department staff, Richard was the main interview for the story.


Simon started working for the ABC in the late 20th century, working in radio programmes, both in the country and in Adelaide. Simon has presented the 7PM News in Adelaide, and hosted the local 7.30 programme. He’s made stories for the national 7.30 programme, Stateline, Landline, AM,PM and the World Today. He has a postgraduate diploma in US history. Simon loves writing – politics, features, both current and historical, rural stories, dog stories (especially dog stories- curiously it’s easier to explain our humanity through dogs).

Further Reading


Joint Winner: Heather Casey


Heather is an exceptional nurse leader across mental health, addiction and intellectual disability services in her role as Director of Nursing for Southern District Health Board.

Heather has been instrumental in important local and national developments including Nurse Practitioner development, Chairperson of the South Island Mental Health & Addictions Alliance, Past President & Credentialing Director NZ College of Mental Health Nurses and Specialist Nursing member, Health Quality & Safety Commission’s National Mental Health and Addiction Quality Improvement programme Leadership Group to name a few.

Citation on Certificate:

Awarded for visionary leadership with optimism and passion, for inspiring others and seeding collaboration and for dedication across all facets of contact and care.

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.

Joint Winner: Brenda Happell


Professor Happell commenced her career in mental health in 1986. As a clinician she worked primarily in acute mental health units and drug and alcohol services. Professor Happell commenced her academic career at Victoria College (now Deakin University). She was an inaugural member of the Department of Psychiatric Nursing. In 1998 Professor Happell was appointed to the University of Melbourne to coordinate the post-graduate mental health nursing program. She led the successful tender team to establish the Centre for Psychiatric Nursing and was inaugural Director of this very successful centre. In 2007 she was appointed Professor of Contemporary Nursing at Central Queensland University, in 2009 she was appointed as Director of the multi-disciplinary Institute for Health and Social Science Research. In 2011 Professor Happell was appointed as the inaugural Engaged Research Chair (Mental Health Nursing) in acknowledgement of her accomplishments and her national and international reputation as an academic leader.

Brenda is currently Professor of Nursing at the University of Newcastle. She has attracted approximately $14million in competitive research funding, published more than 400 manuscripts, three books and nine book chapters. Brenda was inaugural Director of the Centre for Psychiatric Nursing, University of Melbourne, former Director of the Institute for Health and Social Science Research Central Queensland University and Executive Director Synergy, University of Canberra. She is Fellow and Board Director of the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses, and former Editor of the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing. Throughout her career, Brenda has been a passionate advocate for Mental Health Nursing, consumer participation and improving physical health for people diagnosed with mental illness. Brenda is lead investigator for NHMRC grant: Improving the cardiometabolic health of people with psychosis: The Physical Health Nurse Consultant service, a nurse-led initiative. She was the proud recipient of the inaugural VMIAC lifetime ally award in 2018.

Citation on Certificate:
In recognition of an inspiring, innovative academic and mentor to mental health nurse education, research and practice, allyship to the mental health consumer movement, and beyond … at an individual, national and international level.

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.

Tom Trauer Award

RESEARCHERS: Andrea Reupert and Darryl Maybery

APPLYING RESEARCH: Making a Difference for Families Living with
Parental Mental Illness

ORGANISATION: Monash University Faculty of Education, Clayton
Monash University Monash Rural Health, Warragul

Commencing in 2003, our research aims to stop the intergenerational cycle of mental illness.
In collaboration with parents, children and other family members we have established a broad body of research that involves:

developing and evaluating child and parent interventions;
designing and evaluating professional development materials for various mental health workers including psychiatrists, psychologists, general practitioners, teachers, social workers and psychiatric nurses;
delivering research and evaluation training opportunities for mental health workers and university students; and
continually providing an evidence informed contribution to government and
organisational policies and workforce procedures.

To better support families, we focus on strengthening the capacity of the workforce to promote the mental health and well-being of children whose parents have a mental illness. Our research and evaluation activities aim to make a substantial and long lasting difference to the lives of vulnerable children and their families.

Professors Andrea Reupert and Darryl Maybery have worked as academics for over 20 years. In active collaboration with parents, young people and clinicians they have established and maintained an active program of research and evaluation that serves to make a difference to families facing a range of adversities, in Australia and overseas. They have supervised over ten PhD students in Australia and overseas in this area and established the Parental and Family Mental Health Worldwide Collaborative, which aims to exponentially advance the parental mental health research agenda. Their leadership in this collaborative has involved mentoring current and future research leaders in Australia, North America, Norway, Thailand, the Netherlands, the UK and Finland. They have received funding from Beyond Blue, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (Victoria and Queensland), Department of Health (Victoria and NSW) and the Australian Infant, Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health Association.

Service and Program Awards


WINNER: Indigenous Mental Health Intervention Program (IMHIP)
ORGANISATION: Queensland Forensic Mental Health Service

Established in 2014, the Indigenous Mental Health Intervention Program (IMHIP) is a prison in reach and transitional service. IMHIP is Australia’s first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led social and emotional wellbeing service for Indigenous people in custody. IMHIP currently services Brisbane Women’s and Southern Queensland Correctional Centres and Woodford Men’s Correctional Centre. IMHIP is run through the Queensland Forensic Mental Health service in collaboration with an Indigenous non-government organisation. IMHIP received $2.1 million in non-recurrent funding for the 2018/2019 Financial Year, inclusive of funding for transitional teams. IMHIP currently employs ten staff within the Queensland Forensic Mental Health Service, comprising two managers, four clinicians and four social and emotional wellbeing health workers. As at April, 2019, IMHIP had 81 open clients and 76 open active referrals.

IMHIP provides a model of service that is culturally capable and embedded in the concept of social and emotional wellbeing; is developed, led and delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and culturally endorsed clinicians and health workers; and provides continuity of care in collaboration with an Indigenous non-government organisation on transition to the community. Developed within the Queensland Forensic Mental Health Service, and in partnership with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, IMHIP’s aims are to reduce the morbidity, mortality, relapse and return to custody of Indigenous Australians and to develop the Indigenous workforce and supporting Indigenous leadership within the mental health sector.


JOINT WINNER: Building Resilience in Transcultural Australians
BRiTA Futures

ORGANISATION: Queensland Transcultural Mental Health Centre (QTMHC)

BRiTA Futures is a group resiliency building program developed by the Queensland Transcultural Mental Health Centre which focuses specifically on healthy bi/multicultural identity development and builds resilience “to live in two or multiple worlds”, negotiate acculturation stressors and associated family and/or peer pressures and conflict. In an environment where it has been difficult to develop and sustain such a program due to lack of resources, the QTMHC has sustained this program, which now has a track record of over 14 years and has been evaluated to deliver significant outcomes.

The QTMHC has trained over 450 group facilitators in Queensland, Australian Capital Territory, Western Australia and Tasmania to train staff in their states on the program as BRiTA Futures is a unique program that does not exist elsewhere in the country.

Trained facilitators have gone on to deliver BRiTA Futures programs in a wide variety of settings including schools, community based. settings, camps, TAFE colleges, places of worship etc. A number of settlement agencies have integrated BRITA Futures into their settlement programs and schools with a significant CALD demographic are increasingly incorporating BRiTA Futures into their programs and curriculum.

The Queensland Transcultural Mental Health Centre (QTMHC) is a specialist service based in Brisbane with the Metro South Addiction and Mental Health Service. We work with people of all ages from many different backgrounds and we are available to help, not just in Brisbane, but across Queensland.

QTMHC specialises in understanding culture and mental health and wellbeing and we work to ensure that people receive the right mental health care and support, and that multicultural communities increase their understanding about the help that is available to treat mental health problems.

QTMHC workers represent more than 100 different language and cultural groups and we aim to have someone from your cultural background available to support your needs whether it is for individual care or for a group program in your community.


JOINT WINNER: Standing Strong

ORGANISATION: Kimberley Mental Health & Drug Service AND
Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services (NCHS)

Standing Strong makes a significant contribution to mental health because it has a focus on prevention and deals with complex issues around mental health and substance use in an Aboriginal community. This program is an Aboriginal community driven mental health promotion project, focused on empowering young people by developing life skills through culture. This is a strengths based program using local people and organisations, which makes it a sustainable project.

The aim of Standing Strong is to build resilience in young people by increasing awareness around protective factors to prevent suicide as well as promote accessing treatment for alcohol and drug use and eventually reduce alcohol and other drug use in the community. Elders from five language groups and young people in the Fitzroy Valley guided the development of the key messages in Standing Strong making the messages relevant to the local audience.

Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services (NCHS) is an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO). It began in 1995, following a wide reaching community consultation. The consultation aimed to establish the type of health service the local Community wanted. The clear message from this consultation was that the community wanted a holistic, culturally appropriate service that recognises the impact of Aboriginal Law, Culture, Spirit and Land issues on the health of the Community. The Community also specified that they wanted an ACCHO that focused on disease prevention and health promotion. Most importantly, they wanted a service that worked together with the existing, State run, hospital service to avoid duplication of services and improve the quality of services for local people. It was from this consultation that the concept of a partnership between the Fitzroy Valley Health Service (FVHS) and NCHS was formed.

Deferred 2018 Award Presentation
APPLYING PROGRAM: Providing Engaging Mental Health Activities to Youths across the Top End of Australia


A partnership was formed with Mind Blank Ltd working alongside Top End Association for Mental Health Inc (TeamHEALTH). In 2017 this collaboration was successful in presenting 25 mental health promotion interactive theatre workshops on a two week tour to the Northern Territory working in schools in the Darwin, Palmerston, rural and remote communities. During this tour our team directly engaged 2500 young people.

From this collaboration Mind Blank and TeamHEALTH were invited to present our program evaluation outcomes at the 2017 National Suicide Prevention Conference in the Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Learning lab. Results indicated: 90% enjoyed performance, >65% of students learned something new and taught their new skills, >65% feel more confident to seek mental health support, 100% of teachers satisfied with the program and would consider booking again. Both organisation are prioritising self-suitable strategies to continue an annual program.

Mind Blank is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to reduce the risk of youth suicide through interactive performances in schools and communities. Since 2011, we have reached over 25,000 young people at Mind Blank events Australia wide. Our experiential learning style delivers workshops that allow students to rehearse social problem- solving skills.

TeamHEALTH provide quality mental health services, focused on support, recovery and rehabilitation across Darwin, Palmerston and the regional and remote communities of the Northern Territory’s Top End. Our purpose is to create community capacity for good mental health so that all people may lead a full and valued life.


APPLYING SERVICE: Consumer Academic Program (CAP)

ORGANISATION: Centre for Psychiatric Nursing
University of Melbourne

The CAP aims to:
Contribute to the development of consumer perspective and consumer leadership.
Innovate through adopting co-produced methods.
Improve mental health services by contributing a human rights agenda to research, education and training activity, such as supported decision-making and practices that eliminate coercion.
Strengthen the consumer workforce.

Research, as well as training activity by the CAP’s members, is translational. It has strong links to workforce development, service quality, and is aligned with government priorities. The CAP’s work is innovative and collaborative, working in partnership with other organisations to achieve its aims.

The CAP’s work has influenced policy development and academic discourse across local, state, national and international levels. Its consumer academics do not just ‘participate’; they lead.

Commencing in March 2016, the Consumer Academic Program (CAP) is situated within the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Psychiatric Nursing.

The CPN’s stated mission is to advance and support mental health nursing practice through research, education and sector consultation. The CPN is primarily funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, with an approximate budget of $667,000, and receives additional grants for the CAP.

As part of the CPN, the CAP contributes to education and training of 21 Victorian Area Mental Health Services, equating to roughly 4,500 mental health nurses as well as other mental health professionals.


APPLYING PROGRAM: Let’s Get Real: Enhancing the Values, Attitudes, Knowledge and Skills of the Health Workforce
ORGANISATION: Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui

For more than ten years, Let’s get real has significantly contributed to New Zealand’s mental health and addiction workforce development. Let’s get real identifies the values, attitudes, knowledge and skills required to support people with mental health and addiction needs. The national capabilities framework gives everyone working in mental health and addiction, regardless of role or discipline, a shared language to improve understanding and create consistent best practice.

In 2018 Let’s get real was refreshed with a new focus for all health workers. It has the potential to support everyone working in the New Zealand health sector to take stock of their values, attitudes, knowledge and skills and reflect on how their practice demonstrates these. The implementation of Let’s get real throughout the health sector will ensure people’s mental health and addiction needs are met wherever and whenever they access the health system.

Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui (Te Pou), was established in 2006 in response to request for proposals to grow the capacity and capability of the mental health sector from the Ministry of Health in New Zealand. Te Pou is part of the Wise Group and is responsible for leading workforce development at a national level for over 30,000 full time equivalent staff providing mental health, addiction and disability services and support. Te Pou workforce development programmes include Matua Raḵi (addiction) and disability. Evidence-based education and training to the wider community is also provided via Blueprint for Learning.
Our projects and programmes are delivered in collaboration with government departments, district health boards, non-government organisations, other national workforce centres, education and training providers, researchers, and health sector networks. As a national workforce development centre, we have established relationships with a breadth of other organisations nationally and internationally.

APPLYING PROGRAM & ORGANISATION: Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA)

In 2015 Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA) was established as part of the Introduction of the Mental Health Act 2014 and a mental health system that respects consumer rights. IMHA advocates support consumers to understand and exercise their rights. We do this through non-legal advocacy that supports consumers to speak up for themselves or acts directly on their instructions (representational advocacy).

We can only do our work through lived experience leadership and engagement. Our service foundations and design are based on consumer perspectives. We have embedded consumer perspectives by having consumer consultants involved in service design and evaluation, creating a designated Senior Consumer Consultant role, and establishing a Speaking from Experience advisory group that informs multiple initiatives and areas of practice. Our strategic advocacy is informed by consumers and our resources are coproduced with consumers.

In 2014 the Victorian Government committed to improving the autonomy, protections, as well as health and social outcomes for people who use mental health services. To realise this, the Mental Health Act 2014 was passed, focusing on recovery, Supported Decision Making and the minimisation of compulsory treatment.
To make these principles a reality, our organisation, the Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA) service at Victoria Legal Aid, was funded by the DHHS.
Since August 2015, our advocates have been taking instruction from consumers, talking to them about their choices, supporting their self-advocacy and speaking directly with mental health services. Our primary purpose is ensuring that consumers are supported to make and participate in all decisions about their assessment, treatment and recovery. Our state-wide service employs 25 staff (16.5FTE), with advocates servicing over 2000 consumers in 2017-2018 in every public mental health service in Victoria. Lived Experience leadership is central to our service.

APPLYING PROGRAM: Behind The Seen: Mental Health Awareness and Support for First Responders and Their Families


Behind The Seen has been representing Australian frontline first responders and their families in the mental health arena for the past 6 years. Their work involves development and implementation of mental health gatekeeper sessions to first responders and their families, strategic partnerships with organisations such as Black Dog Institute and Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health, submissions to government inquiries, first responder specific mental health resources, development of a program for helping professionals, peer support to both first responders and their families and the development of innovative resources to instigate conversations about mental health. Behind The Seen has an active social media presence with over 23,000 followers, keeping their audience informed on all matters relating to first responders and mental health. Behind The Seen is run by 2 people with lived experience: Ross Beckley, a veteran decorated firefighter with PTSD and his partner Veronique Moseley.

Behind The Seen (emergency service personnel SEE what others don’t) is a not-for-profit project established 2013 that aims to increase conversations about the effects of incident related and career specific stress on Australian first responders and their families. Renowned for representing “the voice of lived experience”, they have spent the last 6 years developing and delivering gatekeeper mental health programs to more than 1000 participants; partnered with Black Dog Institute on several projects including an evaluation of their program, survey dissemination and analysis and a co-designed online physical intervention program. They manage a social media presence of more than 23,000 followers, collaborate extensively with key stakeholders, find innovative ways to increase mental health conversations, produce first responder-specific resources, contribute to government inquiries and provide peer support.

Early Career Research Award

WINNER: Louise Byrne
APPLYING RESEARCH: Exploring Factors that Support Effective Employment of Lived Experience Roles within Mental Health Service Delivery


Louise Byrne completed her doctorate in 2014 at Central Queensland University. Louise is a Vice Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow at RMIT University. Louise’s research focuses on the workforce development needs of designated lived experience/peer roles.

Key to best practice mental health service delivery is the meaningful, well-supported embedding of lived experience roles as a valued part of the wider workforce. However, lived experience roles are largely still poorly understood, under-supported and lacking positions of authority with which to advocate for change.

As a lived experience researcher, Louise has experienced many of the barriers facing others in designated roles. She is therefore deeply committed to understanding best practice strategies for lived experience employment and ensuring this information is communicated effectively to industry. Her program of research represents the most comprehensive study of lived experience workforce development in Australia and most recently included Fulbright research in the United States, based at Yale University.

Louise is located in RMIT’s School of Management and is a member of the research-intensive Centre for People, Organisations & Work (CPOW), located in the College of Business. Louise’s work is aligned with the CPOW ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ theme and RMIT’s research strategy emphasising creating impact through collaboration.

CPOW focuses on issues including; skills and human resource development, diversity, and the links to effective outcomes. The latter include sustainability, employee commitment, as well as economic and employee wellbeing. Moreover, CPOW researchers explore the dimensions of social change with reference to power relations and the exercise of these relations in contemporary society. CPOW provides a high-quality, collaborative, interdisciplinary research environment. It is a partner organisation with the Gender, Migration and the Work of Care project, based at the University of Toronto, and the Interuniversity Research Centre on Globalization and Work network, based at the University of Montréal.

WINNER: Michelle Tye
APPLYING RESEARCH LifeSpan: The design and Delivery of a Multilevel, Integrated Suicide Prevention Model

INSTITUTE: Black Dog Institute, University Of New South Wales

Suicide rates are increasing in Australia, indicating that current approaches to suicide prevention are having no appreciable impact. In response to this problem, a primary focus of my research has been on developing and testing an innovative multilevel suicide prevention model known as ‘LifeSpan’. The LifeSpan model seeks to deliver ‘what works’, by bringing together multiple evidence-based strategies and delivering them, simultaneously, into high risk communities. It draws on promising global evidence that multilevel interventions can reduce suicide rates at the population-level. LifeSpan is the first, and largest, complex multilevel suicide prevention trial in Australia, and differs from global efforts in its data driven approach. Spatial suicide data has been used to identify priority trial sites, tailor the model to local needs, and identify changing prevention priorities to optimise the impact of LifeSpan. The project represents a strong collaboration with national universities (ANU, Macquarie), industry (SAS), health networks, and consumers to ensure expertise and relevance have been considered at all stages.

Black Dog Institute was founded in 2002 and is internationally recognised as a pioneer in the identification, prevention and treatment of mental illness. The work of the Institute is aimed at improving the lives of people affected by mental illness, including suicidality, and empowering everyone to live the most mentally healthy lives possible. We do this through the rapid translation of high-quality research into improved clinical treatments, increased accessibility to mental health services, strategies to reduce stigma, and development and delivery of sustainable public health solutions. Our unique approach incorporates clinical services with our cutting-edge research, health professional training and community education programs to develop innovative and effective strategies for people living with mental illness. Funded primarily by competitive grants and philanthropy, our primary areas of mental health research and treatment include: depression, anxiety, workplace mental health, adolescents and young people, suicide prevention, e-mental health, and wellbeing.


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Past Winners