TheMHS Board

Tom Brideson Biography

BA (Welfare Studies); Dip Health Science; NAIDOC Week Community Award for Contribution to Aboriginal Mental Health (2010); NSW Minister’s Award for Excellence in Aboriginal Health; Pfizer Non-Psychiatrist Project Presentation Award, RANZCP 2003

Tom Brideson is a Kamilaroi man who was born in Gunnedah, NSW. He grew up in Canberra and his family lines include Matthews and Sampson (grandparents) from Breeza, NSW. He is a member of the Red Chief Local Aboriginal Land Council.

Since 2007 Tom’s has been State-wide Coordinator of the NSW Aboriginal Mental Health Workforce Program. He has been actively involved in the Aboriginal mental health area since 1993 in a broad range of roles and published a number of journal articles on issues facing the Aboriginal mental health workforce.

Tom chairs the Aboriginal Advisory Committee with the NSW Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health and was previously a Visiting Fellow of the Centre. In 2011 he was appointed to the first National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Advisory Group which oversaw the development of the first national strategy in this area. In 2012 the Suicide Prevention Advisory Group merged with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health Advisory Group. That Advisory Group was made a Ministerial Advisory Group in 2013. Tom was previously appointed to the NSW Suicide Prevention Ministerial Advisory Committee 2011 – 2012.

He is a member of the NSW Aboriginal Grief and Loss Project Advisory Committee of the NSW Institute of Psychiatry. Tom is a consultant to Indigenous HealthInfoNet on Social and Emotional Wellbeing. Between 2005 and 2011, Tom was a Program Leader in the Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health (CRCAH) Social and Emotional Wellbeing Program. In late 2012 Tom was elected to the Board of Indigenous Allied Health Australia and reappointed for a further 2 years in November 2013. Tom is also a member of the Congress of Australia’s First Nation People.

In 2013 Tom was appointed to the Community Advisory Council of the NSW Mental Health Commission.

Tom has been a member of TheMHS Board since 2007 and Chair from 2012 – 2016. He convened the TheMHS Summer Forum in 2008 on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health. He has contributed to TheMHS Awards as a judge for a number of years and been involved in many of the pre-conference Forums on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health. Tom is a Judge of the TheMHS Mental Health Achievement Awards.

In recent years the TheMHS Board has embraced and articulated the processes of TheMHS Governance more formally including unanimously supporting 3 important documents;

  • the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • the UN Convention of Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and
  • the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Board unanimously agree that the TheMHS organisation will continue to strive towards ensuring our work will align to these 3 documents.

Current Position: Board Member

Member Since: 2007

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 again in 2020, and as a Local Liaison Officer for the 2013 and 2014 Annual Conferences.

Current Position: Board Member

Board Member: 2010 – 2018; 2020

Member Since: 2010

Cath Chapman

Cath Chapman Biography

BA (Hons) (USYD), PhD, (UNSW)

Cath is an Associate Professor at The Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use at the University of Sydney, where she is also Program Director of an NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Prevention and Early Intervention in Mental Illness and Substance Use (PREMISE). She has conducted research across university, community, and hospital settings. She worked for many years leading analysis of Australia’s first and second National Surveys of Mental Health and Wellbeing as well as large school-based clinical trials. She currently leads an innovative program of research on the epidemiology and prevention of mental health and substance use problems with a strong focus on translating evidence into practice for the general community.

Having been a member of TheMHS Board since 2000, Cath was a Co-convenor of the Summer Forum Program from 2008-2015, a member of the Conference Proceedings Editorial Board since 1998 and TheMHS Administrative Committee 2009-2020. She has held a number of other positions within the organisation including Scientific Program and Conference Convenor (2002), member Scientific Program Committee (2010), Chair of the Board (2011, 2012) and Deputy Treasurer (2017).

Current Position: Board Chair

Member Since: 2000

Lynne Dunbar Biography

B. Occ. Ther., University of Queensland; B.A. (Hons) Psychology, Macquarie University.

Lynne has a love of working with people and has a strong belief in partnership and consumer-centred ways of working. She is a registered Psychologist and previously had worked for many years as an Occupational Therapist. Lynne has worked with Dementia Australia since 2008 including as the Team Leader of the National Dementia Helpline and as a group worker. She is also the Awards Manager for TheMHS.

Lynne worked in Mental Health services from 1979 to 1995, gaining diverse experience in various roles in a range of mental health settings in Sydney. These included the admission wards of a large psychiatric institution, a psychiatry ward attached to a general hospital, and an innovative community based comprehensive mental health service.

In this last position she was inspired by and fortunate to have several creative leadership roles including the establishment and management of an assertive follow-up team and foundling adolescent team, and a position as team leader of the accommodation team where she established and ran 5 group homes and an Adult Foster Scheme.

Exciting additional projects during this time included:

  • Coordination of a Strategic Planning Project for Blacktown Mental Health Services which had many features in common with Clinical Redesign methodology
  • Multiple Family Education Programs
  • Family Therapy Team
  • Brief Psychoeducational Family Intervention Research Project
  • Board member Embark Enterprise Inc. (work projects)
  • Board of Alice’s Cottages Inc. (community residential program for women who had suffered a mental illness and their children)
  • Charmain Clift Cottages – establishment committee.

Prior to this, Lynne worked for 5 years in physical rehabilitation and then as a teacher within Occupational Therapy (Sydney University) and Mental Health (Institute of Psychiatry casual). She was also a volunteer Lifeline counsellor and trainer for several years.

A member of TheMHS Board member since 1992 and involved in TheMHS Awards Program since its inception in 1992, Lynne also served as President in 2006 and 2007.

Current Position: Secretary; Conference Program Consultant

Member Since: 1992

Kevin Kellehear Biography

RN; BA (Macquarie); MHPEd (UNSW); PhD (Wuhan University, Wuhan, People’s Republic of China)

Kevin has over 45 years of experience in mental health services, with 20 as a clinical nurse, manager, administrator and teacher. For 30 years he has worked as a Nurse Academic in the college/university sectors. He has qualifications in psychiatric and general nursing, psychology and health personnel education.

In 2014, Kevin graduated with his doctoral degree from the HOPE School of Nursing, Wuhan University, Wuhan, PR of China, investigating the application of the Kellehear Holistic Model for mental health nursing.

He is a foundation fellow of the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses, and a foundation adviser to the National Consortium for Multicultural Mental Health Australia, from 2003 – 2008.

In addition to his record of consultancy in Mental Health Nursing and Education, Kevin has also been involved in teaching and development in several countries in the Asia Pacific region, including Samoa, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, New Zealand, as well as Indonesia, and Bahrain. He has presented at conferences nationally and internationally including keynote addresses in the United Kingdom and invited presentations in The USA, Japan, and Indonesia.

Kevin is an Official Visitor in Mental Health Services within NSW, since 2016.

Since presenting his first paper for TheMHS in 1992, Kevin has been involved on the Board of TheMHS, holding a range of positions and contributing to committees, conference and forum development within the organisation.

Current Position: Board Member

Member Since: 1993

Vivienne Miller Biography

MA (Educ. & Work); BA (Italian Studies); Dip.OT (WA); AFHSM;  Mental Health Consultant in education, training, project management, evaluation and occupational therapy.   

Vivienne has worked in mental health services in Australia and England for over 50 years in many capacities: occupational therapist and manager, quality improvement manager, university lecturer, co-ordinator of site visit educational programs, project officer to develop mental health standards, member of research teams, mental health educator and conference director.

She is Member of the board of the WPA Section on Public Policy and is a member of the executive of WAPR Australia (World Association of Psychosocial Rehabilitation). She is a co-author of the National Standards for Mental Health Services (1996) and an advisor to the National Mental Health Workforce Standards and the 2010 revision of the National Standards for Mental Health Services.

She holds a Masters degree in Education and Work (Macquarie University) and an undergraduate degree in European Languages at Macquarie University, studying Italian so she can learn more about the Italian reforms in mental health, but also to travel to Italy for the coffee, food, art and the people. She was the founder and Chair of NECTA (Network for Exploring Creativity through the Arts) for 30 years until 2010. Currently she is involved in the development of a Mind Museum, Arts and Neuroscience Park on the ex-psychiatric hospital site at Callan Park, Sydney.

Vivienne was the Founding Executive Director of the largest, most inclusive mental health conference in Australia (TheMHS Conference). TheMHS attracts over 1000 clinicians, managers, team leaders, consumers, families, educators, policy-makers and researchers annually; provides bursaries for consumers (people with mental illness) to attend the conference; administers and organises national mental health service achievement awards.

Current Position: Board Member; Conference Program Consultant

Member Since: 1991

Fiona Orr Biography

RN, BHSc (Nursing), MLitt, PhD.

Dr Fiona Orr is the Director of Studies, Staffing Matters, in the Faculty of Health at UTS, and is a senior lecturer in mental health nursing. She is a registered nurse with clinical experience in hospital-based and community mental health services, and she has extensive experience in the tertiary education sector. Fiona teaches and researches immersive learning approaches in mental health education. For example, she co-designed a live simulation with experts by lived experience of mental disorder to develop students’ recovery-focused communication skills. She also co-developed a voice-hearing simulation workshop to develop students’ awareness of the effects of voice-hearing and empathy for people who hear voices. She received a UTS Learning and Teaching award for ‘Strengthening the UTS Model of Learning’ and an Australian Universities Award for ‘Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning’.

Fiona has been involved with TheMHS Board since 2015.

Current Position: Board Member

Member Since: 2016

Alan Rosen Biography

Alan is Professorial Fellow, Illawarra Institute of Mental Health, University of Wollongong, Clinical Associate Professor, Brain & Mind Centre, University of Sydney, Australia; Senior Consultant Psychiatrist, Far West LHD Mental Health Service, NSW; formerly Inaugural Deputy Commissioner, Mental Health Commission of New South Wales, and formerly Service Director, and Director of Clinical Services, Royal North Shore Hospital & Community Mental Health Services, Sydney, He is the Chair of TAMHSS: Transforming Australia’s Mental Health Service System Inc. Awards include Margery Johnston Award, Association of Relatives and Friends of the Mentally Ill, 1989, Ian Simpson Award, Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, 1994; Officer of the Order of Australia, Queen’s Birthday Honours, 2014.

He has reviewed mental health services for governments and administrations in 5 Australian states, the ACT and internationally. He has been visiting professor at University of Wisconsin, Madison, and a visiting senior fellow at Harvard University, Boston, USA. He has been invited speaker and/or performed consultancies on service development in several Australian states and territories, UK, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Germany, USA, Canada, China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Argentina, Spain, Portugal and New Zealand. He was a presidential invited speaker for the American Psychiatric Association in 2019, and for the World Psychiatric Association in 2017 and 2019.

Alan is the author or co-author of 150+ published journal articles or chapters on studies of 24 hour community based alternatives to acute and long term inpatient care, crisis management, early intervention in psychosis, rehabilitation and recovery, assertive case management and integrated mental health service systems; more inclusive interdisciplinary mental health teams, including peer workers, co-occuring disorder specialists and community pharmacists; psychiatric stigma and discrimination; co-occuring disorders, deinstitutionalization, consumer issues, family interventions; indigenous mental health, anthropology of global mental health, rural and remote mental health, cultural influences on mental health service systems, qualitative and quantitative outcome measures, recovery measurement, impaired practitioners, research and evaluation in mental health, mental health service standards, the National Mental Health Strategy, the future of community psychiatry and of community mental health services, human rights of individuals with severe and persistent mental illnesses, international comparisons between Mental Health Commissions, the history of Australian Psychiatry, and has co-edited a book on the “early intervention of nearly everything”.

Alan has been involved with TheMHS since 1991 as a founding Board member. He has presented at TheMHS Conferences and Summer Forums on a wide variety of topics since its inception.

Current Position: Board Member

Member Since: 1991

Tully Rosen Biography

Bachelor of Arts-Psychology, Diploma of Business (Governance), Graduate Diploma of Media, Master of Management (2020), Fellow of the Institute of Community Directors Australia (FICDA)
Tully is a policy advisor, experienced executive and consultant in the government and non-profit sectors. His background stretches across health, disability and community service systems. In his current role as Principal Advisor for the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, he provides strategic coordination and leadership across various parts of the NDIS regulatory framework.
Over the past 15 years he has worked at the highest levels of human service development and mental health reform. Tully has held leadership positions with organisations including the NSW Mental Health Commission, SIRA, Homelessness NSW, Suicide Prevention Australia, the Mental Health Coordinating Council, St John of God Health Care and Blue Knot Foundation.
Tully has supported TheMHS events since he was a teenager and has enjoyed watching it grow to become the largest gathering of mental health professionals in the country.

Current Position: Treasurer

Member Since: 2010

Megan Still Biography

Megan uses her background in occupational therapy to help create consumer led mental health services that support well-being. Currently the Service Planning and Innovation Manager in Sydney Local Health District, she has a keen interest in systems that enable people to live in the community and exercise real choice in services.  Megan loves transparency in services and reporting, consumer and carer experiences of service processes, outcome measures, the peer support revolution and hopefulness.

Megan has been involved with TheMHS as a delegate since 2004, was on the Local Organising Committee for the Sydney Conference in 2017 and became a board member in 2019.

Current Position: Board Member

Member Since: 2019

Stephen Suttie Biography

Masters of Social Work (University of Sydney), Graduate Diploma of Social Health in Alcohol and other drug Counselling (Maquarie University).

Stephen has over 15 years’ experience working in the community services sector, specifically working in community based mental health and homelessness services with a focus on dual diagnosis and physical health. Stephen is a Regional Manager at Neami National specialising in community based mental health outreach programs which aim to support people with complex mental health issues to live meaningful lives in the community and participate fully in society. Stephen is passionate about recovery-oriented practice and health literacy and keeps these frameworks at the fore front of his work with consumers and in the services he overseas.

Stephen has been involved with TheMHS since 2017 and became a board member in 2019.

Current Position: Deputy Chair

Member Since: 2019

Maree Teesson Biography

Maree Teesson is Professor and Director of The Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use, Director of the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Prevention and Early Intervention in Mental Illness and Substance Use (PREMISE) and NHMRC Principal Research Fellow at The University of Sydney. Maree was announced as a Companion of the Order of Australia in the Australia Day 2018 Honours List. She is also a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences and the Australian Academy of Social Sciences, a National Mental Health Commissioner and Member, National Health and Medical Research Council. Maree’s vision is to build the world’s leading dedicated translational research program for the prevention and treatment of co-occurring mental health and substance use problems. She seeks to increase our understanding of substance use and mental health problems, prevent these where possible and improve treatment responses. She is also a long term member of TheMHS Board, since 1991.

Current Position: Board Member

Member Since: 1991