6th Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium

The Practitioner's Voice

The number of Australians experiencing mental health problems in rural and remote areas is estimated to be comparable to major urban centres. However, the rural and remote community faces a greater challenge with limited access to mental health services and support. The Symposium theme, The Practitioner's Voice, seeks to give voice to those practitioners who are faced with these challenges on a regular basis.


Presenters will address recent impacts and future outcomes as we consider the following questions:


  • What is the lived experience of the practitioner in a rural or remote setting?
  • How can the voice of these practitioners be heard when decisions are made?
  • Can we ensure that rural and remote practice is considered in the distribution of resources?
  • In what ways can a practitioner be an effective voice for consumers located in rural and remote settings?
  • What are the barriers and enablers in attaining training for continued professional development points in rural and remote Australia?
  • Rural practitioners experience of the new graduate. Work ready or not?


The symposium will include keynote speakers, concurrent sessions and workshops that develop skills related specifically to the mental health needs of our rural and remote communities, and ways to effectively prepare mental and other health professionals to meet future challenges.


Anxiety, depression, stress, grief and other mental health problems can often occur with many rural communities being affected by environmental threats and economic downturn. In recent years we have endured severe drought, flooding, bushfires and cyclones, which puts financial stress on farming communities. Mental health practitioners need to prepare themselves, their clients and communities, to deal more effectively with future negative occurrences in rural and remote areas.


If you are a practitioner in rural and remote Australia or have an interest in these issues, I invite you to join me in an ongoing discussion so that your voice will be heard on the appropriate and effective distribution of resources outside of the major urban centres.


Dr Keith Miller, Symposium Chair
Senior Lecturer, School of Social and Policy Studies, Flinders University

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
  • Networking Function
  • Trade Exhibition of the leading industry professionals
  • Poster Presentations
  • Access to presenter podcasts and book of proceedings following the symposium


Program News

Symposium Streams

  • The Practitioners Voice
  • Rural and Remote Challenges: resources, professional development, employment
  • Working in Partnerships: practitioners, consumers and carers
  • Recovery Oriented Practice
  • Cultural Engagement: working with Aboriginal people
  • Resilient Communities through Natural Disasters
  • Mental Health Youth Services
  • Suicide Prevention
  • e-Health, Technology and Social Media

Who Attends

  • Workers in the provision of rural 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

Keynote Speakers

  • Associate Professor Russell Roberts, National Chair, Alliance for Rural and Remote Mental Health

  • Douglas Holmes, Consumer Participation Coordinator, St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney
  • Professor David Perkins, Professor of Rural Health Research, Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health, The University of Newcastle

  • Arthur Papakotsias, Chief Executive Officer, Neami National
  • Mr David Butt, CEO, National Mental Health Commission
  • Dr Joseph Dunn, Psychs on Bikes
  • Rebecca Graham, Executive Director, Mental Health, Country Health South Australia Local Health Network
  • Senator Penny Wright, The Greens
  • Senator Fiona Nash, Assistant Minister for Health



Conference Committee

  • Dr Keith Miller, Senior Lecturer,  School of Social and Policy Studies, Flinders University
  • Chris Healey, Senior Research Fellow/Clinical Simulation Educator, Greater Green Triangle, University Department of Rural Health (UDRH)
  • Dr Russell Roberts, National Chair of the Alliance for Rural and Remote Mental Health and a member of the NSW Mental Health Commission Advisory Council. 
  • Alison Delphin, Wodonga Adult Mental Health
  • Grahame ‘Bonny' Gibson, Men’s Health/Family Violence programs
  • Peter Sugg, CEO, Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association

2014 Symposium Sponsors & Exhibitors

Maida Learning Australia Counselling Orygen Mental Health Coordinating
Australian Counselling Association
eMHPrac The Sanctuary Alcoholics Anonymous GPMHSC
Counsellors Victoria

What delegates thought of the 2013 Symposium

Really interesting, quality and relevant presentations, friendly colleagues, good food and well organised.

The content of the sessions I attended was thought provoking and some excellent ideas.

There were a number of really thought provoking presentations, well done. We need more of this. It was wonderful to have a strong indigenous stream throughout the conference.

Keynote speakers were excellent.

2013 Symposium

The 5th Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium: Strategic Alliances: Facing The Challenges Together In Rural and Remote Mental Health, explored the challenges and effectiveness of alliances between government, NGO’s , and communities through presentations and evaluations of partnership initiatives .  It examined “diagnosable mild to moderate mental illness” in regional, rural and remote Australia. 


The conference committee would like to thank our 2013 keynote speakers:


  • Prof Pat Dudgeon, University of Western Australia
  • Dr John Durkin, Director, BeTr Foundation, London UK
  • Prof Hal Swerissen, Faculty of Health Sciences, Latrobe University.
  • A/Prof Meaghan O'Donnell, Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health
  • Professor David Ashbridge, Chief Executive Officer , Barwon Health
  • Ms Susan McLean, Cyber Safety Solutions
  • Prof James A Dunbar, Flinders University and Deakin University
  • Methuen Morgan, BPsych
  • Alison Fairleigh, Rural Mental Health Activist 


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


Symposium 2013

The Association would like to thank the sponsors and exhibitors of previous symposiums.

DVA ascent sponsors and supporters 2012
Department of Health and Ageing australian indigenous health infonet
AIHW University of Western Australia
Child Health Research
Psychcare Services MHCC
SARRAH Orygen Youth Health


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