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2018 VHA Mental Health Forum: Getting a head in the game

  • 16 May 2018
  • 8:30 AM - 4:00 PM
  • NAB - The Hall, 700 Bourke St, Docklands VIC


  • For VHA Members only - please choose your organisation from the list on the following page


2018 VHA Mental Health Forum: Getting a head in the game

The mental health system is complex and continues to undergo significant change.

The VHA Mental Health Forum: Getting a head in the game aims to bring together mental health professionals to share experiences and discuss the various aspects of mental health. 

Researchers, practitioners and educators will present innovations and trends as well as practical challenges and solutions adopted in the mental health sector today. 

Navigating the mental health system is 'getting a head in the game'



Registration, arrival tea and coffee



Tom Symondson – CEO, VHA


Keynote speaker

Insights from the Mental Health Complaints Commissioner

Dr Lynne Coulson Barr – Mental Health Complaints Commissioner


The Psychiatrist Workforce Trends & Implications for the Public Sector

Associate Professor Richard Newton – Clinical Director of Mental Health, Peninsula Health


Morning tea


Depression and Suicide in the Elderly

Professor Kuruvilla George – Clinical Director Aged Persons Mental Health, Eastern Health


The Stop Mental Illness Stigma Charter

Jodie Rasmussen – Strategy Project Coordinator, Murray PHN


Hospital Outreach Post-suicidal Engagement (HOPE)

Danial Rylatt – Psychologist, The Alfred Health




 The NDIS and System Reform

Angus Clelland – CEO, Mental Health Victoria


A Telepsychiatry Trial in an Eastern Health Emergency Department

Dr Euan Donley – Specialist Clinician, Eastern Health Psychiatric Triage and Emergency Department Response Team


 Guest Speaker:

Wayne Schwass – Former AFL North Melbourne Football Club Premiership Player, Founder of Puka Up



Tom Symondson – CEO, VHA


Forum concludes


Dr Lynne Coulson Barr - Mental Health Complaints Commissioner

Dr Lynne Coulson Barr is Victoria's first Mental Health Complaints Commissioner. Dr Coulson Barr has extensive experience and specialist expertise in independent complaint and review processes, and is committed to working with consumers, families, carers and services to ensure complaints are resolved in ways that safeguard people's rights, and improve public mental health services for all Victorians.

Previous roles held by Dr Coulson Barr include Victorian Deputy Disability Services Commissioner and Present of the Victorian Intellectual Disability Review Panel. Dr Coulson Barr also served on a number of state federal bodies, including the Victorian Mental Health Review Board, the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal, and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. 


Associate Professor Richard Newton - Clinical Director, Peninsula Health Mental Health Service

Richard is the Clinical Director of Peninsula Health Mental Health Service and Chair of the Victorian Branch of the RANZCP. Until 2017 he was the Clinical Director of BETRS a regional community based programme for people with severe eating disorders. He is a Board Member of the Butterfly Foundation, the national eating disorder charity, a member of the National Eating Disorder Collaboration, and co- author of RANZCP Clinical Practice Guidelines for the treatment of eating disorders. 

He is an Editorial Board member of national and international academic journals and sits on numerous federal and state based planning or advisory committees. He has published more than 50 peer reviewed articles or book chapters on a range of topics including CBT, treatment of psychosis, eating disorders, psychosocial interventions in mental health services, health service redesign, and homelessness. 
He trained in Edinburgh, Scotland, completing CBT training in The Cullen Centre, Edinburgh, and came to Australia in 1992.

Prof Kuruvilla George - Clinical Director Aged Persons Mental Health, Eastern Health

Professor Kuruvilla George is the Director of Medical Services for the Peter James Centre and Wantirna Health, Clinical Director of Aged Persons Mental Health and ECT for Eastern Health. Professor George worked as a geriatric psychiatrist for several years in UK before moving to India as a missionary and then to Melbourne in 1995. On top of his clinical work, he was the inaugural Deputy Chief Psychiatrist for Aged Persons Mental Health in Victoria from 2002 to 2012. 

Dr Euan Donley - Specialist Clinician, Eastern Health Psychiatrist Triage and Emergency Department Response Team 

Dr Euan Donley has worked  with the Psychiatric Emergency Department Response Team (aka: ECATT) for over ten years. He has degrees in Psychology and Social Work, including an honours degree, and his masters in Forensic Studies. He has just completed his PhD at Monash University examining risk assessment and management of mental health patients in Emergency Departments.  He has been published in many international peer reviewed publications, and spoken around the world on the topic of risk assessment in Emergency Departments.  If you see him and he bores you about his research, just change the topic to Star Wars, or maintain eye contact and move closely to the nearest exit.

Wayne Schwass – Former AFL North Melbourne Football Club Premiership Player, Founder of Puka Up

Born in New Zealand and raised in Warrnambool, Western Victoria, Wayne Schwass began playing Aussie Rules football at the age of ten. But with his undeniable talent and passion, it was not long before he was recruited to join the AFL— so in 1986, Wayne began playing for the North Melbourne Football Club. From here, Wayne went from strength to strength, quickly becoming one of the most highly-rated players in AFL history. Wayne played 282 games at the elite level for fourteen and a half years, both with the North Melbourne Football Club (1988- 1997) and the Sydney Swans (1998-2002).

Since retiring in 2002, Wayne has also become a passionate advocate for mental health awareness. In 2006, Wayne founded the ‘Sunrise Foundation’, an organisation he created after becoming one of the first AFL players to speak openly about his experience with depression. 

Wayne’s passion for health and well-being ultimately drew him back to mental health advocacy and it was this same passion that led him to create Puka Up. Launched in 2017, Puka Up is a social enterprise focusing on mental health, emotional well-being and, importantly, suicide prevention. According to Wayne, the ‘Puka Up’ vision is to ‘create the environments for every person to have authentic and genuine conversations about mental health and emotional well-being'. As well as running Puka Up, Wayne also delivers his powerful and honest keynote speeches at countless mental health seminars and workshops, where his message never fails to resonate with audiences.


Map: click here


Arriving by car and where to park?

Etihad Stadium Car Park. Click here to pre-book and save prior to arriving.

Arriving by train and where to get off?

Southern Cross Station is located adjacent to NAB @ The Village. It is a short walk across the Bourke Street pedestrian footbridge. NAB is the building on the right hand side after the footbridge.

Arriving by tram and where to get off?

City trams stop in the CBD on Spencer Street, Bourke Street and Collins Street – all are short walk to NAB 700 Bourke Street.

Bourke Street/Spencer Street footbridge entrance:

112 St Kilda Fitzroy St to West Preston.

31 Victoria Harbour Docklands to Hoddle Street.

11 Victoria Harbour Docklands to West Preston.

48 Victoria Harbour Docklands to north Balwyn.

86 Bundoora RMIT to Waterfront City Docklands.

96 East Brunswick to St Kilda Beach.

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