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2009 Exceptional Contribution Winners

Betty Kitchener, Melbourne  VIC

Betty Kitchener is the Director of the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Training Program. She started this program as an unpaid volunteer in 2000. In 2001, the program received a small grant from ACT Health which paid part of her salary to run MHFA courses in Canberra. From this small beginning the program has employed staff and spread nationally. There are now over 1000 accredited MHFA instructors operating across Australia. Over 85, 000 people have completed a MHFA course. A number of specialised versions of the course have been developed: Youth MHFA, Aboriginal MHFA, Vietnamese-Australian MHFA, and e-learning MHFA. The course has spread to the following other countries: Canada, Finland, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, THailand, UK (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland), USA. A number of studies, including randomised controlled trials, have found the course to be effective in improving knowledge, attitudes and helping behaviours.

This award honours the outstanding innovation and dedication of Betty Kitchener to mental health services through the creation of the Mental HEalth First Aid Training Program, and through untiring commitment to the development of the program in Australia and globally. This award represents our deep respect for an exceptional contribution, the results of which will flow on to enhance the mental health and well-being of all.