TheMHS Association

Maria Cassaniti Biography

Bachelor of Social Work (UNSW), Master of Public Health (UNSW)

Maria Cassaniti is a social worker who has worked in the field of mental health and multicultural health for the past 25 years. Maria’s work has included direct service provision, education and training, policy development, planning, management and leading the implementation of new innovative projects, programs and services at local and state-wide levels.

Maria’s key area of interest is in building new knowledge in areas of transcultural mental health within the Australian context and the development of mental health services that are responsive to diverse populations. Maria is the Manager of the Transcultural Mental Health Centre (NSW) which comprises a specialist clinical consultation service; education, training and clinical supervision and programs focussed on mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention across the life span. Maria’s has provided extensive input into state and national advisory groups focussed on mental health, suicide prevention and multicultural health. Maria also serves as a member of the Mental Health Commission of the NSW Community Advisory Council.

Maria has been involved in research in the areas of young people, culture and mental health, children of migrant and refugee parents with mental illness, suicide and migrant communities, mental health literacy and developing resources for culturally diverse populations.

Maria has been involved in the TheMHS Conference since 1997, has served on the Board from 2010 – 2018 and as a Local Liaison Officer for the 2013 and 2014 Annual Conferences.

Current Position: Association Member

Board Member: 2010 – 2018

Association Member since 2019

Roger Gurr Biography

Associate Professor; MB; BS; DPM; MRC Psych.; RANZCP

Trained in Psychiatry in Sydney, London and Oxford Universities. Member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and Fellow of the Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. Appointed in 2008 as Conjoint Associate Professor in the School of Medicine, University of Western Sydney. In 1980 commenced building Australia’s first community based integrated mental health service in the Blacktown area, receiving recognition as one of the benchmark services in the National Mental Health Strategy process. In 2000 became Medical Director for mental health services at Liverpool Hospital and Community Services.

In 2005 he was appointed Area Director of Mental Health for Sydney West Area Health Service (covering 1.15 million population, budget $158 million). In 2012 he returned to clinical work in the City of Blacktown with interests in youth mental health, a short stay unit and teaching. Academic interests include health system design and economics, models of care and their delivery, and the funding methodologies required to achieve best practice, team work and equity of access. Previously President and National Secretary of Amnesty International Australia and currently Chair, the NSW Service for the Treatment And Rehabilitation for Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS).

Founding member of TheMHS Learning Network.

Current Position: Association Member

Board Member: 1991 – 2018

Association Member since 2019

Peter McGeorge Bio

Peter McGeorge Biography

Associate Professor Peter McGeorge (Universities New South Wales and Notre Dame) is an Adolescent and General Psychiatrist who has extensive experience in the development and delivery of services as the Director of three major mental health services in Auckland, Wellington and Sydney. He is a past Chair of the NZ Mental Health Foundation and the NZ Mental Health Commission. Currently he is the Clinical Lead for NSW Health’s “Pathways to Community Living Initiative” and is a Senior Associate of the International Foundation for Integrated Care (IFIC) and Chair of IFIC Australia.

Current Position: Association Member

Association Member since 2019

Marilyn McMurchie Bio

Marilyn McMurchie Biography

Assoc. Professor (Discipline of General Practice) USYD; MD; OAM

Marilyn started general practice work in Darlinghurst just when Kinsela’s changed from being a funeral parlour to an entertainment venue. The HIV pandemic came to notice at about the same time. Providing care for those affected by HIV became a major part of her work and from 1991 to 1993, she was President of the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine. As a member of the NSW Ministerial Advisory Committee on HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections, that commitment continued until 2013; currently she represents the NSW Faculty of the RACGP on the committee overseeing the implementation of the NSW Ministry of Health’s strategy to eliminate HIV infection. In the 1990s she received a World AIDS Day award then in 2006 she was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for services in HIV care and education.

As a Public Health Physician, she was a member of the Joint Public Health Advisory Committee of the General Practice Partnership Advisory Council and was the RACGP National Adviser to the National Health and Medical Research Council’s National Breast Cancer Centre. She is an examiner for the Australian Medical Council.

A past worker at Leichhardt Women’s Community Health Centre, she is a feminist, and from 1998-2001 was President of the Australian Federation of Medical Women. The Australian Medical Association awarded her their Women’s Health Award in 2003.

After five years as a Senior Research Fellow, she became an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Discipline of General Practice at the University of Sydney.

For years now she has spent time every year doing locum work in rural and remote Australia.

From 2007 – 2018,  she served as a Board Member of TheMHS, an educational organisation committed to improving the quality of mental health services in Australia and New Zealand.

Current Position: Association Member

Board Member: 2007 – 2018

Association Member since 2019