Confirmed Keynotes

Allan Sparkes CV,VA, beyondblue Ambassador. Suicide Prevention Advocate

Allan SparkesAllan Sparkes CV,VA is one of only 5 Australians in the past 40 years to be awarded the Cross of Valour, Australia's highest decoration for bravery. He is also one of 10 Australians to be presented the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, the holder of the NSW Police Force Valour Medal and the Royal Humane Society Galleghan Award.

After 20 years as a front line Police Officer in the New South Wales Police Force, his career ended due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder coupled with a major depressive disorder. Suicidal and his life in tatters, he set about to re-establish his life. His recovery involved intensive psychotherapy, medication and determined effort. In 2009, with his wife and two young daughters, he set out to achieve a life- long goal and re-build his life, setting off in a yacht from England and sailing 16,000 nautical miles back to Australia.

Allan is a member of the National Leadership Group of Suicide Prevention Australia, a beyondblue Ambassador, a Soldier On Ambassador, an Inspirational Speaker and author. Allan also assists with the NSW Police Mental Health Intervention Team, the NSW Police Post Trauma Support Group.

Allan's belief is there is a critical need for a more concentrated and proactive approach to suicide, PTSD and associated mental illnesses in our Police Forces, Emergency Services and Australian Defence Forces. Broader education and knowledge are vital to maintain the health, wellbeing and careers of the people who are critical to our society.

Professor Antony Jorm, Centre for Mental Health, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne

Tony JormProf Tony Jorm is a Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne and an NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow.  His research focuses on building the community’s capacity for prevention and early intervention with mental disorders.  Prof Jorm is the author of 27 books or monographs, over 500 journal articles and over 30 chapters in edited volumes.  He has been awarded a Doctor of Science for his research and elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia.  

He is a member of the Research Committee of Australian Rotary Health.  He is a past President of the Australasian Society for Psychiatric Research. He has been listed in ISI as one of the most cited researchers in Psychology/Psychiatry of the past 20 years.

Associate Professor Vijaya Manicavasagar, Director of Psychological Services and Director of the Psychology Clinic, Black Dog Institute, University of New South Wales, BSc. Psyhology (Hons),M Psychology (Hons), PhD.

Vijaya Manicavasagar A/Professor Vijaya Manicavasagar is a Senior Clinical Psychologist and Academic within the Black Dog Institute and School of Psychiatry at the University of New South Wales. She currently also holds the position of Clinical Director of the Psychology Clinic which specialises in the psychological treatment of mood disorders including bipolar disorder. The Psychology Clinic offers a range of services including client assessments, individual and group treatments as well as providing expert opinion for psychological impairment. In addition, A/Prof Manicavasagar provides training to intern and registrar psychologists through the Psychology Clinic.

A/Professor Manicavasagar’s clinical research interests are in the fields of anxiety and depressive disorders including bipolar disorder. She is the author of several academic publications, book chapters and books in these areas. She has been involved in the development of several online programs including ‘MyCompass’ for self-monitoring and managing mild to moderate psychological problems; ‘Bite Back’ a website which applies positive psychology techniques to improve youth wellbeing; and an app that helps adults discover their core life values (‘Spark’). A/Professor Manicavasagar is also the lead investigator in a series of studies on the development and implementation of wellbeing programs in schools utilising a combination of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Positive Psychology.

Professor Jane Pirkis, Director, Centre for Mental Health, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne

Jane PirkisProfessor Jane Pirkis is the Director of the Centre for Mental Health in the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne.  She has undertaken a broad program of work on the epidemiology of suicide and mental health problems, and has conducted a number of large-scale evaluations of suicide prevention initiatives and mental health programs. 

She has a particular interest in interventions that show promise in preventing suicide, and has recently been examining the benefits of different interventions at suicide hotspots.  She is known for her work on suicide and the media, and is currently focusing on ways in which traditional and newer media might be harnessed to prevent suicide. 

Jane is the General Secretary of the International Association for Suicide Prevention, and a member of the International Academy of Suicide Research and of Suicide Prevention Australia.

Professor Harvey Whiteford , Kratzmann Prof, Psychiatry & Population Health, University of QLD

Harvey WhitefordProfessor Harvey Whiteford is Professor of Psychiatry and Population Health, and Director of the Policy and Epidemiology Group at QCMHR. He trained in medicine, psychiatry and health policy in Queensland and at Stanford University.

Harvey has held senior clinical and administrative positions, including those of Director of Mental Health in the Queensland and Federal governments in Australia, and with the World Bank in Washington DC. His research interests are in epidemiology, mental health policy and service delivery


Alize Ferrari, BPsySc Hons, PhD, Research Associate, School of Public Health, University of Queensland

Alize FerrariDr Alize Ferrari is a research associate for the Psychiatric Epidemiology and Burden of Disease Research (PEABOD) Group based at the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research. She holds affiliate positions with the School of Public Health at the University of Queensland and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.  

Her role within PEABOD is to oversee the work undertaken by the group investigating the global epidemiology and burden of mental and substance use disorders.


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The Association would like to thank the 2014 Keynote Speakers

  • Professor David Ames, Executive Director, National Ageing Research Institute
  • Professor Amanda Baker, Research Academic, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle
  • Susan Beaton, Suicide Prevention Consultant
  • Associate Professor Andrew Chanen, Deputy Research Director at Orygen Youth Health Research Centre & Centre for Youth Mental Health, The University of Melbourne
  • Paula Duncan AM, Australian Television Icon,  Ambassador, NOVA Employment
  • Commissioner John Feneley, Mental Health Commission of NSW
  • Professor Justin Kenardy, Clinical Health Psychologist and Acting Director of the Centre for National Research on Disability and Rehabilitation Medicine. Professor, Schools of Medicine and Psychology, University of Queensland
  • Associate Professor Judy Proudfoot, Head of e-Health, Black Dog Institute. Associate Professor, School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales
  • Sebastian Rosenberg, Senior Lecturer, Mental Health Policy, Brain and Mind Research Institute, Sydney University. Associate, Menzies School of Health Policy
  • Keir Wells, Lived experience from a proud Manic-Depressive

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