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
Nicole Lee

Assoc. Prof Nicole Lee,
Director, LeeJenn Health Consultants

Kavanaugh Professor David Kavanagh,
Director, eMHPrac – e-Mental Health in Practice
Louise Roufeil Dr Louise Roufeil, PhD FAPS MCHP, Executive Manager (Professional Practice), Australian Psychological Society Catherine King MP Hon Catherine King, MP,
Member for Ballarat
Kezelman Dr. Cathy Kezelman AM John Macdonald Professor John Macdonald,  Foundation Chair in Primary Health Care, University of Western Sydney
Gordon Gregory

Gordon Gregory, Chief Executive Officer, National Rural Health Alliance



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, Clinical Lead Mental Health , Murray PHN
  • 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


2015 Sponsors, Exhibitors and Supporters

ANMF Black Dog CranaPlus
Healthcare Australia eMHPrac Alcoholics Anonymous
CPI beyondBlue NEDC
Mind Spot


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Symposium 2013


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