Innovation and Opportunity

Mental health services in rural and remote Australia have unique challenges compared to metropolitan centres due to distance, remoteness and isolation. These challenges can create barriers to the effective provision of services. However they also provide the opportunity for the application of innovative approaches and technological advances.

Service delivery does not suggest delivery of the same services to rural and remote Australia as it does to metropolitan centres; however providing these services in creative and innovative ways can ensure care is provided to the same standard.

Rural and remote communities are being impacted by an increasing ageing population, combined with the exit of younger members who are traditionally employed on the farms and businesses which support local communities. What steps need to be taken to ensure the future of these communities and also provide a strong, healthy lifestyle in the Bush? Can we improve the notion of social inclusion in rural and remote Australia?

How do we provide mental health services to young people in our communities and break down the stigma attached to diagnosis or treatment?

The 7th Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium's theme Innovation and Opportunity means being innovative in the delivery of services and entrepreneurial in the provision of mental health services to rural and remote Australia. The Symposium will hear from leaders in the field and discuss the opportunities not yet explored. Let’s explore what it means to be innovative and entrepreneurial.

About the Symposium

The 7th Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium will be held from the 26 – 28 October 2015 at the Novotel Forest Resort Creswick, VIC. Creswick is 75 minutes’ drive from Melbourne or 70 minutes from Tullamarine Airport. Located between Ballarat and Daylesford. For more details on getting to and from Creswick please view our visitor information page.

Optional half day of workshops is being held on the 26 October 2015. Places are free to the first 50 full registration delegates that book. We invite those that can join us early to network with your colleagues at the Welcome Reception from 5:00pm on the 26th October.

The Symposium will include keynote presentations, panel presentations and concurrent sessions from 9:00am – 5:00pm on the 27 – 28 October.  The Symposium dinner will take place on the 27th October. It will be a great night to unwind after a full day presentations. Subsidised tickets are being offered to delegates. 

The Symposium is pleased to offer complimentary coach transfers to and from Creswick for full delegates. There are limited places on each bus so book early to avoid missing out. To view the bus schedule please go to the transport section of our visitor information page.


Welcome from the Conference Chair

Keith MillerMental health services in metropolitan and more densely populated regions have their challenges. Mental health services in rural and remote Australia have different and unique challenges.

Distance, remoteness and isolation can create certain barriers to the effective provision of services. But they can also lead to opportunities, innovation and exciting possibilities. Unfulfilled need is the creator of innovation.

Service provision can never mean delivering the same services in the same way to the population of rural and remote Australia as it does to the population of metropolitan Australia. But it can mean delivering equivalent services to the unique population in our rural and remote communities.

A number of smaller rural and remote communities are facing the challenge of an ageing and diminishing population. Can this be reversed? How do we build strong, healthy communities in the bush? How can we improve the notion of social inclusion in rural Australia?

How do we provide services to young people in our communities and break down the issues of stigma? As the government continues to outsource mental health services to the not-for-profit sector, how will this affect isolated communities? Suicide can both devastate and galvanise a community? How can a mental health practitioner be most effective in the lives of community members affected by suicide? What is the place of technology in the ongoing delivery of services and how can we make the most of the opportunities this affords?

Service provision does mean being innovative and entrepreneurial. It does mean finding meaningful and viable solutions which service people in rural and remote community settings. This is what we want to investigate at this year’s 7th Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium. See you there! 

Keith Miller PhD
Senior Lecturer, Social Work, School of Social and Policy Studies, Flinders University

Program Topics

  • Working smarter: overcoming the challenges and innovative solutions
  • Developing programs that build resilience, reduce stigma and offer accessibility to services
  • Service delivery strategies, development, implementation, management and evaluation
  • Child and youth mental health: prevention and early intervention
  • e-Health, tele-Health, technology and social media
  • Suicidal and self-harming: behaviour and prevention
  • Aboriginal health and engagement
  • Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) community programs, support and education
  • Recovery in the Bush
  • Building healthy communities: policy, practice, community innovation
  • Employment opportunities for better health outcomes
  • The voice of the lived experience


Program Highlights

The program is intended to provide all participants with an opportunity to contribute and learn. The program will include:

  • Keynote presentations by renowned speakers
  • Concurrent sessions, workshops and panel sessions
  • Welcome reception
  • Symposium dinner
  • Trade exhibition of the leading industry professionals
  • Poster presentations
  • Access to presenter podcasts and book of proceedings following the symposium


Who Attends

  • Workers in the provision of rural and remote mental health services
  • Social Workers
  • Mental Health Nurses
  • Aboriginal Health Workers
  • Allied Health Professionals
  • Psychologists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Public and Private Health Services
  • Private Practitioners
  • Counsellors
  • General Practitioners
  • Academics
  • Researchers
  • Clinicians
  • Rehabilitation Consultants
  • Health Professionals
  • Carers
  • Consumers
  • Non-Government Organisations
  • Commonwealth Government
  • Community Representatives
  • Educational Institutions
  • Local/State/Governments
  • Policy Makers


Confirmed Keynotes

Michael Burge Mr Michael Burge OAM
Master Mental Health First Aid Instructor
David Butt Mr David Butt,
CEO of the National Mental Health Commission

Professor Peter Harvey,
DipT, B Ed, PhD

Kavanaugh Professor David Kavanagh,
Director, eMHPrac – e-Mental Health in Practice
Nicole Lee Assoc. Prof Nicole Lee,
Director, LeeJenn Health Consultants


Invited Keynotes


  • Marshall Watson, Child and Adolescent Forensic Psychiatrist at SA Health Womens and Childrens Health Network, Adelaide

Program Committee

  • Dr Keith Miller, Senior Lecturer, Social Work, School of Social and Policy Studies, Flinders University
  • Peter Sugg, CEO, Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association
  • Associate Professor Russell Roberts, Consultant, KR Consulting. Associate Professor, University of Sydney
  • Mr Maurie Breust, Lead Mental Health Clinician, Loddon Mallee Murray Medicare Local
  • Mr Chris Healey, Senior Research Fellow/Clinical Simulation Educator, Greater Green Triangle, University Department of Rural Health (UDRH)
  • Dr Angela White, Senior Research Fellow, Queensland University of Technology   
  • Mr Grahame ‘Bonny’ Gibson, Link-Up Counsellor, Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia



What delegates thought of the 2014 Symposium?

  • I love this conference; it was my third attendance.  I love the ideas and the inspiration from oral presentations.


  • This program was well organised, well implemented and certainly involved the community.


  • It was an extremely informative and very well organised symposium. I'm recommending next year's to all my friends!


  • Absolutely brilliant with so much information. Networking was second to none. I met so many new contacts.


  • Thanks for such a fantabulous couple of days.  I have never been involved with such a wealth of talent, experience and information.


  • Very good value for money, especially when compared with other conferences.


  • A good mix of research and practitioner stories. A great setting for researchers to learn about work on the ground, and practitioners to hear latest findings.


  • I learnt so much and were very welcomed by everyone I spoke to - organisers and attendees alike.


What happened in 2014: The Practitioner's Voice

Albury certainly delivered a stunning backdrop to host the 6th Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium from 12 – 14 November 2014 at the Commercial Club.

We would like to thank our presenters, delegates, session chairs and sponsors who participated in making the Symposium a great success.

More than 240 delegates attended over the three days with the program including 9 keynote presenters, 60 session presenters, 20 panel discussions, 8 workshops, 13 poster presentations along with 11 trade displays.

The keynote speakers provided an excellent balance between policy, research, practice and a consumer voice. The committee would like to thank our keynote speakers: 


  • Mr David Butt, CEO, National Mental Health Commission
  • Dr Joseph Dunn, Psychs on Bikes
  • Ms Rebecca Graham, Executive Director, Mental Health, Country Health South Australia Local Health Network
  • Mr Douglas Holmes, Consumer Participation Coordinator, St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney
  • Senator Fiona Nash, Assistant Minister for Health Senator for New South Wales Deputy Leader for the Nationals
  • Mr Arthur Papakotsias, Chief Executive Officer, Neami National
  • Professor David Perkins, Professor of Rural Health Research, Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health, The University of Newcastle
  • Associate Professor Russell Roberts, National Chair, Alliance for Rural and Remote Mental Health
  • Senator Penny Wright, Australian Greens Senator for South Australia and Greens spokesperson on Mental Health, Schools, Legal Affairs and Veterans' Affairs


The Symposium theme, The Practitioner's Voice, looked to give a voice to those practitioners who are faced with the challenges of limited access to mental health services and support on a regular basis.

Symposium Supporters

Maida Learning Australia Counselling Orygen Mental Health Coordinating
Australian Counselling Association
eMHPrac The Sanctuary Alcoholics Anonymous GPMHSC
Counsellors Victoria
OZHELP Elsevier MHA NSW National Eating Disorders Collaboration
Maida Learning
Wesley LifeForce ANMF DVA ascent Department of Health and Ageing
australian indigenous health infonet AIHW University of Western Australia MHSA Child Health Research
Psychcare Services MHCC    

To listen to their keynote presentations, please complete this form to receive your link.


Symposium 2013


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