2020 Keynote Speakers

Confirmed

Dr Gabrielle O’Kane, Chief Executive Officer, National Rural Health Alliance
Ms Rosalyn Bell, Assistant Commissioner, Australian Government Productivity Commission
Ms Caro Swanson, Principal Advisor, Mental Health & Service User Lead
Dr Denise Riordan, Chief Psychiatrist, ACT Health Directorate
Dr Daniel Rock, Principal Advisor & Research Director, WA Primary Health Alliance
Dr Alison Schafer, Mental Health Expert, WHO
Professor Phil Batterham, Professor at the Centre for Mental Health Research, Australian National University
Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Cabinet, Federal Member for Flinders (Via Video)
Dr Ruth Vine, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Mental Health, Department of Health
Professor David Forbes, Director, Phoenix Australia
Mr Tim Heffernan, Deputy Commissioner, Mental Health Commission of New South Wales
Mr Tom Brideson, CEO, Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia

Keynote Plenary Panel

Dr Alison Schafer, Mental Health Expert, WHO

Professor Phil Batterham, Professor at the Centre for Mental Health Research, Australian National University

Dr Ruth Vine, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Mental Health, Department of Health

Professor David Forbes, Director, Phoenix Australia

Mr Tom Brideson, CEO, Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia

Invited

Hon Chris Bowen MP, Shadow Minister for Health, Australian Government

About The Keynotes

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Dr Gabrielle O’Kane, CEO National Rural Health Alliance

Gabrielle has been immersed in rural communities for over 30 years, working as a rural allied health academic and practitioner, before moving to her current role as CEO of the National Rural Health Alliance, where she has been for over 12 months. She has extensive experience in the private and public health sector, which has contributed to her deep understanding of the need for collaborative partnerships across the health system and beyond, to address the social determinants of health, support the rural health workforce, provide integrated care and achieve positive health outcomes for rural communities. She is an Adjunct Associate Professor with the University of Canberra (UC) and with Charles Sturt University (CSU). Gabrielle’s research interests include food culture, food citizenship ad food system sustainability, particularly from a social perspective. More recently, she has been forming partnerships with several universities to advance rural health research, which is high on the agenda for the Alliance’s strategic direction.

Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Cabinet, Federal Member for Flinders (Via Video)

In January 2017, Greg was appointed Minister for Health. Greg has always had a strong connection with the medical profession. His mother was a nurse and his wife is a nurse.

Mental health is an issue that is particularly important to Greg. He wants to be a strong advocate for greater understanding and community awareness, and to ensure we have the necessary resources to help deal with this particularly important issue.

Greg uses his background in the Industry, Innovation and Science portfolio to build on Australia’s track record for medical breakthroughs, turning what is done in the laboratory into better healthcare for patients.

Professor Phil Batterham, Professor at the Centre for Mental Health Research, Australian National University

Phil Batterham is a Professor at the Centre for Mental Health Research, The Australian National University in Canberra, Australia. He is currently supported by a prestigious Career Development Fellowship from the National Health and Medical Research Council. Phil is a research leader in developing and implementing online programs to prevent suicide and mental health problems, developing efficient and precise scales to assess suicidality and mental health, and reducing barriers to help seeking, particularly in rural areas. Phil has published 170 journal articles related to mental health.

Dr Ruth Vine, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Mental Health, Department of Health

Dr Ruth Vine is Australia’s first Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Mental Health. Ruth provides policy advice on critical mental health issues impacting the Australian community due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and champions Commonwealth policy development and implementation activities to better integrate the Australian mental health system.

Ruth is a consultant psychiatrist and has more than 25 years’ experience. Ruth has worked for the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, and has held positions of Deputy Chief Psychiatrist, Chief Psychiatrist and Director of Mental Health. She has chaired the AHMAC National Mental Health Standing Committee, the National Mental Health Workforce Committee, and National Safety and Quality Committee.

Previously, Ruth was the Executive Director of NorthWestern Mental Health, a division of Melbourne Health from 2013 to 2019. NorthWestern Mental Health is the largest mental health service in Victoria, covering a population of approximately 1.4 million people across a number of growth corridors.

Ruth is a member of the Board of Forensicare, the Board of Mind, and the Medical Practitioners Board (Victoria).

Ruth holds a Bachelor of Medicine from Melbourne University, a Bachelor of Laws from La Trobe University, and is a Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.

Dr Denise Riordan, Chief Psychiatrist, ACT Health Directorate

Dr Denise Riordan is the Chief Psychiatrist for ACT. She has over thirty years experience as a psychiatrist working in public health systems, both in the UK where she was trained, and in Australia, including her work as Chief Psychiatrist of Northern Territory, where she continues to do some work and is very familiar with the challenges as well as exciting opportunities of delivering health care in rural and remote areas.

Her clinical areas of expertise include child and adolescent mental health. She is passionate about working collaboratively with systems to develop and deliver high quality, accessible and evidence based health care. In addition to her medical qualifications she has qualifications and experience in medical and clinical education, and health services management, and uses these, along with her clinical expertise to contribute to developing contemporary integrated mental health services.

Dr Daniel Rock, Principal Advisor & Research Director, WA Primary Health Alliance

Dr Daniel Rock is the Principal Adviser and Research Director at the WA Primary Health Alliance who have the contract to operate the three WA Primary Health Networks.

He is an epidemiologist, a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health and an Adjunct Professor at the Disciple of Psychiatry, the University of Western Australia.

Prior to joining WAPHA he was both Deputy Executive Director at North Metropolitan Health Service Mental Health and Director of Clinical Research in Perth, where he was responsible for state-wide specialist mental health services, and mental health service planning at regional and state level.

During his time at North Metro he was also co-jointly a Clinical Professor in the School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences and the School of Population Health, the University of Western Australia and Co-Director of the UWA Centre for Clinical Research in Neuropsychiatry.

Ms Caro Swanson, Principal Advisor, Mental Health & Service User Lead

Caro has worked in mental health for more than 20 years in roles that are informed and supplemented by her own living experiences. For the last 14 years she has worked in a national role co-leading seclusion and restraint elimination projects, leading national peer workforce development and supporting the Equally Well collaborative work. She has developed multiple workshops, resources and frameworks that support changes in the way services and the workforce respond to people experiencing mental health and addiction needs. She is driven by the passionate belief that our responses to people must include compassion and more holistic and joined up options. In 2018 she faced and survived the most serious of physical health challenges and now weaves this also into her work.

Ms Rosalyn Bell, Assistant Commissioner, Australian Government Productivity Commission

Rosalyn Bell has around 25 years’ experience working in the Australian Government and is currently an Assistant Commissioner in the Productivity Commission.

Ms Bell led the Productivity Commission Inquiry into mental health in Australia. The Inquiry spanned 18 months, drew on extensive input from people in urban, regional, rural and remote parts of Australia, and recommended wide-ranging reforms to improve mental health outcomes.

Her other work in recent years has included large scale public Inquiries and consultation processes in areas such as: data availability and use in Australia; government responses to digital disruption; childcare assistance arrangements; small business regulation; competition in Australia’s financial system; and government drought assistance. She also sits on the ACS artificial intelligence ethics committee and the Australian Government Data Champions Network.

Ms Bell holds a masters in economics and econometrics from the University of Manchester (UK) and an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Tasmania (Australia).

Dr Alison Schafer, Mental Health Expert, WHO

Trained in Clinical Psychology, Alison works for World Health Organization’s (WHO) Headquarters; Department of Mental Health and Substance Use.

Based in Amman, Jordan, Alison is leading two multi-year programs to increase access to and promote the scale up of mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) services, including in emergency-affected countries (Ukraine, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Jordan, Lebanon).  She has been part of WHOs global response to MHPSS in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Previously, Alison spent 17+ years working with World Vision, responding to MHPSS needs following major crises, including South Sudan, Iraq, Syria, Gaza (conflict and displacement), Haiti (earthquake), Sri Lanka (tsunami), Horn of Africa (drought), and Sierra Leone (Ebola), among others.

Alison has contributed to developing globally-recognised MHPSS in Emergencies resources, such as Psychological First Aid, Problem Management Plus (PM+) and the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Common Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for MHPSS in Emergencies.

Mr Tim Heffernan, Deputy Commissioner, Mental Health Commission of New South Wales

Tim Heffernan is an experienced consumer peer worker and Mental Health Peer Coordinator at COORDINARE. Tim is currently NSW Deputy Mental Health Commissioner. He is also the Deputy Co-Chair for the National Mental Health Commission’s Peer Workforce Development Guidelines Steering Committee. Tim is an executive member of the Illawarra Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention Collaborative and a volunteer Rural and Regional Ambassador and Community Presenter for Black Dog Institute.

In 2013 he was awarded a scholarship for Boston University’s Global Leadership Institute to develop a co-designed project, Safety for All, which involved peer workers training mental health nurses working on acute mental health wards. Tim identifies as a person with lived experience of mental illness and recovery.