Confirmed Keynote Speakers

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Prof David Ames

  • David Ames
  • Prof David Ames, Executive Director, National Ageing Research Institute.  Academic, Psychiatry, The University of Melbourne.

  • David Ames qualified MB BS from the University of Melbourne in December 1978 with honours in Medicine and Obstetrics & Gynaecology, winning the Upjohn prize for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics. After internship and junior resident medical officer experience at the Royal Melbourne Hospital (1979-1981) he trained in Psychiatry at the Royal Melbourne (1982-1984), Friern and Royal Free Hospitals (London UK) (1984-1987) completing research for an MD on depression in residential homes for the elderly under the supervision of Anthony Mann and Nori Graham (1989).

    After his return to Australia David Ames co-founded Victoria's first memory clinic with Leon Flicker (1988) and was appointed senior lecturer in psychiatry of old age and consultant psychiatrist at Royal Park/Royal Melbourne Hospitals (1989). He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1995 and moved from Royal Park to Broadmeadows Health service in 1999. In April 2005 David Ames took up the chair of psychiatry of old age for the University of Melbourne at St Vincent's Health, St George's Hospital Kew. He moved to become director of the National Ageing Research Institute Parkville and University of Melbourne Professor of Ageing and Health in September 2007 but retains clinical and research links with the academic unit for psychiatry of old age at St George's Hospital.

    David Ames was secretary of the section of old age psychiatry Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists 1990-1995, a member of the Board of directors of the International Psychogeriatric Association (IPA) 1995-2010, edited the IPA newsletter IPA Bulletin 1996-2002 and IPA's peer reviewed journal International Psychogeriatrics 2003-2011. He is a member of the medical and scientific advisory panel of Alzheimer's Disease International.

    David Ames' main research and clinical interests are detection and management of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and new therapies for AD and the care of the depressed elderly. He has published over 130 papers in peer reviewed journals and edited 15 books. Currently he leads the Australian Imaging Biomarkers and Lifetyle study of Ageing which is a $10M 3 year collaborative study of 1112 subjects.


Professor Amanda Baker

  • Amanda Baker
  • Professor Amanda Baker, Research Academic, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle

  • Professor Amanda Baker is a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Senior Research Fellow. She is a senior clinical psychologist who has practised in the United Kingdom and Australia. Her research focuses on the challenging area of the psychological treatment of comorbidity (co-existing mental health and tobacco, alcohol and other drug problems). Since 2000, she has been a Chief Investigator on 16 NHMRC grants (total $10,093,086), including 9 as CIA. These projects have typically involved multi-site randomized controlled trials of psychological interventions among people with severe mental disorders and substance use problems, including smoking. Her total research income since appointment to the University of Newcastle in 1995 is $18,064,559.

    Professor Baker is the lead investigator of a large NHMRC funded randomized controlled trial titled 'Healthy lifestyle intervention for cardiovascular disease risk reduction among people with psychotic disorders'. Through this study and associated pilot studies Professor Baker has generated evidence showing that changing multiple health behaviors among people with severe mental disorders is possible.



Ms Susan Beaton

  • Susan Beaton
  • Susan Beaton, Suicide Prevention Consultant

  • Susan is a psychologist with over 25 years of experience working in the Suicide Prevention field, currently providing advice to beyondblue and other organisations. Susan worked as national advisor to Lifeline’s National Office for 7 years and has been involved with suicide prevention both in Australia and the USA, working mostly for NGO’s in: training and education; project management; service innovation, development and implementation; standards; policy development and advice; Board representation and various consultancy roles. Susan was elected to the Board of the American Association for Suicide Prevention (2008-2011) and contributed as advisor to the Australian Government’s revised Suicide Prevention Framework Living is For Everyone suite of documents.

  • In 2011 Susan was awarded the Audrey Fagan Churchill Fellowship to study alternative models of suicide crisis support overseas. Susan’s expertise covers prevention, intervention and postvention domains and she is interested in ensuring that when suicidal people seek help that they come into contact with a knowledgeable, skilled and compassionate workforce and broader community who do not fear, discriminate or stigmatise them. She also wants to see a paradigm shift where we reduce our focus on risk aversion and service liability and are able to harness the experiences of those who have been suicidal to learn about this complex behaviour with a view to guiding policy, strategy and service development.


Associate Professor Andrew Chanen

  • Andrew Chanen
  • Associate Professor Andrew Chanen is Deputy Research Director at Orygen Youth Health Research Centre & Centre for Youth Mental Health, The University of Melbourne and Director of Clinical Services at Orygen Youth Health Clinical Program, Melbourne, Australia. Andrew’s research, clinical and training interests lie in prevention and early intervention for severe mental disorders, principally personality disorders, along with mood and psychotic disorders. He established and directs the Helping Young People Early (HYPE) program, a clinical, research and training program investigating the understanding of and prevention and early intervention for personality disorders, particularly borderline personality disorder in youth. HYPE was the 2010 Gold Award winner for best specialist mental health service at the Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Service Achievement Awards and was awarded the Victorian Premier’s Award for advancing healthcare at the Victorian Public Healthcare Awards, 2012.

  • Andrew receives grant funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Australian Research Council and has over 50 peer-reviewed scientific publications. Andrew serves on the Editorial Boards of Early Intervention in Psychiatry, Personality and Mental Health, Borderline Personality Disorder and Emotion Dysregulation, and Psychopathology. He is President of the International Society for the Study of Personality Disorders (ISSPD). He is a member of the ICD-11 Review Group for the Classification of Personality Disorders and has recently served on The Australian Government’s Expert Reference Group on Borderline Personality Disorder, and the Development Group for the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Clinical Practice Guideline for Borderline Personality Disorder.


Paula Duncan AM

  • Paula Duncan
  • Paula Duncan has worked extensively on stage, film and television, and has been a household name throughout Australia for over half of her life, not only as an actress but as one of Australia's most loved personalities. She has appeared in TV dramas including The Young Doctors, Prisoner, Neighbours, Richmond Hill, Home & Away and Mother & Son, lifestyle programmes, current affairs shows and commercials.

    For her work with charity, Paula was nominated for the Australia Day Award for work with people with disability, and in 1997 was awarded the Executive Woman of the Year for Contribution to the Arts and the Community.  Paula was also presented with an Australian Achievement Award for work with people with disability, and most notably was awarded an Order of Australia for Outstanding Contribution to the Entertainment Industry and the Australian Community.

    Paula is now the Ambassador of Nova Employment, developing projects, events and seminars to build awareness of the ability of people with a disability. Paula helps in finding counseling and employment for all disabilities including; Sight and hearing impairment, intellectual, physical and psychological disabilities, Mental Illness, Bi Polar, Autism, Aspergers, Crohn’s, MS, Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy and Motor Neuron Disease.Nova Employment


Commissioner John Feneley

  • John Feneley
  • Commissioner John Feneley, Mental Health Commission of NSW

    Mr Feneley was appointed as the inaugural Commissioner of the NSW Mental Health Commission on 1 August 2012.  He brings to the position extensive experience within the mental health sector as Deputy President of the Mental Health Review Tribunal (2007 to 2012) and prior to that through mental health policy and law reform work as Assistant Director General NSW Department of Attorney General and Justice. 

  • He has served on the board of the Schizophrenia Fellowship and government boards and committees such as the Youth Justice Advisory Committee, the Child Death Review Team and the Legal Profession Admission Board. Mr Feneley is also a former Deputy Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption.


Professor Justin Kenardy

  • Justin Kenardy
  • 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

  • Professor Justin Kenardy is a clinical health psychologist and Acting Director of the Centre for National Research on Disability and Rehabilitation Medicine, and Professor in the Schools of Medicine and Psychology at the University of Queensland. Over 25 years of his academic career he has focused on the interface between psychological and physical health, preventative and novel intervention technologies, and regulation of affect. This has led to research in diverse problem areas including diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, pain and musculoskeletal injury, burns, traumatic brain injury, eating disorders, anxiety and depression, posttraumatic stress across a broad age range from child to older adults. He has published over 170 peer-reviewed papers and abstracts, has over 5500 citations to his work and has obtained research funding totalling over $40 million.

  • He serves or has served as consulting editor on a number of prestigious international journals including Health Psychology,  Journal of Anxiety Disorders, Journal of Traumatic Stress and  Cognitive and Behavioural Psychotherapy. He has published one book Whiplash: Evidence Base for Clinical Practice, 16 book chapters, and seven research-based health websites including . He helped develop both the current NHMRC approved National Stroke Guidelines and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Guidelines.

  • He serves on the Board of Directors of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, and is the current President of the Australian Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. He is a Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society and received the Ian Campbell Memorial Prize for Outstanding Contribution to Clinical Psychology in Australia.


Associate Professor Judy Proudfoot

  • Judy Proudfoot
  • Associate Professor Judy Proudfoot, Head of e-Health, Black Dog Institute. Associate Professor, School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales

  • Her research interests focus on eMental Health, the use of technology for the development and dissemination of evidence-based mental health programs.  Currently she has extended her research into mHealth (the use of mobile phones to improve mental health). 

    Judy has attracted over $18 million in research funding and has published over 100 papers, books and book chapters.  She has written research, scientific and practitioner publications on e-mental health, including international standards and guidelines for the field. She has also contributed to a number of policy initiatives and provided advice on expert committees for the Australian Government.  For example, Judy co-authored the eMental Health Vision and Strategy for Australia which was cited in the Budget papers, and most recently she provided policy advice on the establishment of a national eMental Health portal. 

    Judy has developed four eMental Health / mHealth programs, which are used throughout the world.  


Mr Sebastian Rosenberg

  • Sebastian Rosenberg
  • Sebastian Rosenberg, Senior Lecturer, Mental Health Policy, Brain and Mind Research Institute, Sydney University.  Associate, Menzies School of Health Policy

    From 2005 to the end of 2009 Sebastian was Deputy CEO of the Mental Health Council of Australia (MHCA) and engaged in a range of mental health research and advocacy projects including in relation to employment, housing, innovative services and accountability.  Prior to working with MHCA, Sebastian had 16 year's experience in a variety of roles with Commonwealth and ACT Health Departments, including in health policy, casemix and managing parliamentary business.

    Since 2008, Sebastian has worked as a Senior Lecturer at the Brain and Mind Research Institute at the University of Sydney and is currently undertaking a PhD focusing on mental health and accountability and the development of a National Mental Health Report Card.

    In 2011, Sebastian worked as expert facilitator to the NSW Taskforce to Establish a Mental Health Commission.  Draft legislation to enact the Commission was introduced to the NSW Parliament in November 2011.  Sebastian convened the first joint meetings of Australian mental health commissions, including representatives of NSW, the National Commission, WA, plus Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and commissions from Canada, NZ, Hong Kong and elsewhere.  Sebastian is currently working as part of the Project Team to assist the NSW Mental Health Commission develop its new Strategic Plan.

    Sebastian conducted a series of community consultations around suicide prevention and mental health promotion with a final report and recommendations presented to the NSW Suicide Prevention Advisory Council in August 2012.

    Sebastian also conducted a series of community meetings in relation to the review of the NSW Mental Health Act, working with an expert panel which included the NSW Mental Health Commissioner John Feneley.  A final report on these consultations was presented to NSW Health in January 2013.

    Sebastian has published in a wide variety of fields, including in relation to the role and scope of mental health commissions.

Mr Keir Wells

  • Keir Wells
  • Keir Wells is a one of the few people in our society who expresses true pride in being a manic-depressive – never to be referred to as bipolar! Having dropped out of school at 16, he pursued a range of “careers”, which included: soldier, courier, private investigator, clerk, factory worker, computer programmer, journalist, magazine editor, corporate writer and, ultimately, public speaker and communications trainer with his company Speak To Influence.

    It was only in his early forties that he was diagnosed, following a severe depressive episode and a brush with suicide. While it was too late to save his marriage of nearly 20 years, Keir points to that diagnosis as a point of rebirth in his life.

    He regards himself as incredibly fortunate to have been placed under the care of an innovative psychiatrist who started him along the path of self-exploration and “tools development”.  Over the course of 15 years, Keir has developed for himself a broad range of tools, including: combatting self-talk, positive emotions distillation and honesty. As a result of his personal development efforts, Keir has lived without medication for over a decade, freed himself from alcoholism and talks freely of his depression related experiences, life lessons and survival. 

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