News • 14 Oct 2022

2022 QLD Mental Health Awards winners announced

At today’s QLD Mental Health Week Achievement Awards breakfast ceremony 11 winners were announced for demonstrating an exceptional commitment to improving the lives of Queenslanders living with mental illness.

The panel of judges selected the overall winner as Accoras, a charity that identified and self-funded the Attachment and Biobehavioural Catch-Up (ABC) intervention pilot project resulting in improvements to infant-caregiver attachment related outcomes.

Accoras, winner of the Early Years Award also received the Earle Duus Award which comes with a $4,000 prize to continue their incredible work in infant mental health program and interventions.

As host of the Awards for the past 26 years, Open Minds is delighted to congratulate the award winners and celebrate the often-unsung heroes working to raise awareness and reduce stigma of mental illness.

Open Minds Chief Operating Officer, Kate Johnson said it is an honour to celebrate the many incredible achievements of such an inspirational group.

“It takes a unique combination of fortitude and compassion to work in mental health, which was felt in spades at the Awards ceremony.

“We are proud to work alongside these dedicated people who enable hope and better outcomes for those living with mental illness,” said Kate.

Chair of Open Minds Board, Joanne Jessop congratulates the Award winners acknowledging that they joined an esteemed group of previous winners who have delivered outstanding work in the mental health sector and most importantly contributed to breaking down barriers for people living with mental health.

“When we work together to break down the barriers and stigma of people living with mental ill health, it helps to unlock potential and all the wonderful things they have to offer the world – our lives and the world is much richer for this contribution.

Queensland’s only state-wide mental health awards recognise and celebrate those working tirelessly to reduce stigma and support and empower people living with mental illness.

The 2022 QMHWAA continued to attract a high volume of quality nominations, with the panel of judges shortlisting 31 commendable finalists, and selecting 11 winners.

The winners of each of the 11 categories are:

Jeff Cheverton Individual Award – sponsored by The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists

Hannah Richards

Hannah Richards is the Founder and Head Trainer of Paws for Hope and Understanding, which was established through Hannah’s love for animals and desire to support her father, Bob Richards, a Vietnam Veteran with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Paws for Hope and Understanding provide task trained service dogs to ex-defence personnel to help mitigate the impact of mental health conditions including PTSD.  Their aim is to improve the lives of ex-service people as they transition from combat or high stress environments to general society.

Jude Bugeja – Peer Experience Award – Sponsored by the Queensland Alliance for Mental Health

Abi Cooper

Abi Cooper is an accomplished mental health advocate who uses her lived experience as both a consumer and carer to actively create change in her community. At just 21 years of age, Abi has worked on multiple important projects including being a lived experience member of the Project Steering Committee for the new Mental Health Lived Experience Peak Queensland. After a year of sharing her journey in schools with non-profit batyr, Abi now works as the Lived Experience Coordinator for Queensland/ACT.

Early Years Award – Sponsored by Rio Tinto


Accoras is a charity that provides services and programs for children, youth and families. Identifying a lack of services to support infant mental health, Accoras investigated evidence-based programs and identified and self-funded the Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-Up (ABC) intervention pilot project. An independent evaluation supported by a cross sector steering group found the ABC program resulted in meaningful improvements in infant-caregiver attachment related outcomes. It provided important insights into program factors and the strategic and systemic support required to enhance and upscale effective infant mental health programs and interventions, particularly for vulnerable infants and families.

Not-For-Profit Organisation Award (1-100 Staff) – Sponsored by headspace

Upbeat Arts

Upbeat Arts operates two Absolutely Everybody Choir programs in Brisbane for adults living with a mental illness. The two choirs foster a safe, uplifting, and fun environment and provide an opportunity for social inclusion, connection and building confidence. Research shows that singing can lower stress, enhance memory, improve mental health, and help cope with physical and emotional pain. Meaningful community participation is essential for mental health, wellbeing, and recovery – so choir members benefit two-fold.

Not-For-Profit Organisation Award (101+ Staff) – Sponsored by CheckUp

Lives Lived Well Ltd

Lives Lived Well (LLW) works to help people impacted by drugs, alcohol, and mental health concerns. LLW works with people to help get their lives back on track by delivering a wide range of programs and services across Queensland and New South Wales. LLW Queensland services are delivered across more than 20 locations with outreach into many more communities. LLW specialises in community-based counselling and group programs for those impacted by drug and alcohol use and for their families.

Workplace Award (1-200 Staff) – sponsored by Office of Industrial Relations

Balonne Shire Council

As one of the shire’s largest employers, Balonne Shire Council engaged and worked with external consultant ‘Communicorp’ to assist in the development of a Workplace Mental Health Strategy. A Mental Health Strategy Team comprising key organisational personnel was formed and is now implementing the ambitious three-year strategy within the organisation, whilst simultaneously implementing programs throughout the community. Together, these strategies will see not only a psychologically safe and healthy workplace but also raise awareness and improve mental health and mental health awareness across the entire community.

Workplace Award (201+ Staff) – Sponsored by WorkCover Queensland

Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art

QAGOMA’s Art and Dementia Program is a free participant-focused experience designed to support the wellbeing of visitors who are living with dementia. The small-group format is structured around opportunities for reminiscence, validation and socialisation. The program enhances quality of life for visitors living with dementia. Moreover, therapeutic outcomes extend to better mental health and wellbeing for their carers, as they share time together in a stimulating and aesthetically rich participatory experience.

LGBTQIAP+ Award – sponsored by Open Minds

Brook RED – Belong Training

Brook RED delivers the Belong Training program to create affirming spaces and professional practice when supporting and working with LGBTQIAP+ people. The Belong Training program endeavours to fill knowledge gaps and increase the confidence and skill of people to work with members of the LGBTQIAP+ community. The program also offers consultancy to organisations around best practice and can assist with ensuring LGBTQIAP+ inclusivity in aspects such as program development, education/development of educational materials and renewing forms and documents. The Brook RED team of peer workers have experience living with and working through mental health concerns and all trainers identify as part of the LGBTQIAP+ community.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Award – Sponsored by Richmond Fellowship Queensland

Yiliyapinya Indigenous Corporation

Yiliyapinya Indigenous Corporation (Yiliyapinya) is a not for profit, registered Indigenous Corporation and charity responding to the decrease in brain health in Queensland communities. Since establishment in 2019, Yiliyapinya has worked closely with community, government, and relevant Indigenous and non-Indigenous organisations, to develop and establish community led programs to support the improvement of psychological well-being and cultural connection. Yiliyapinya’s programs are supported by neuroscientific research, and have measurably improved the memory, attention, brain speed, social skills and mental health of the most vulnerable children, youth and adults, with severe behavioural challenges arising from trauma, abuse, neglect, and other causes.

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Award – Sponsored by Queensland Health

Naseema Mustapha

Naseema currently works and volunteers with Mental Health Australia on the EMBRACE Multicultural Mental Health Project and the National Mental Health Commission as their Culturally and Linguistically Diverse representative. Naseema actively campaigns for mental health awareness in the communities she is an active leader in, including through her personal online mental health campaign MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS, and information sessions where she shares her journey with mental health.

Schools Award – Sponsored by Health and Wellbeing Queensland

Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy (Coen Campus)

‘Talk About it Tuesday’ is a suicide prevention initiative which was spearheaded across Cape York and repurposed for CYAAA’s Coen Campus school setting. Staff wear brightly coloured shirts each Tuesday as a conversation starter about mental health and wellbeing. It has prompted conversations about emotional self-regulation, support networks and recognising when help is needed from peers and adults. The school has a greater collective mental health awareness as a result of this initiative.

The Awards would not be possible without the generous support of sponsors: Queensland Mental Health Commission, headspace, Richmond Fellowship Queensland, WorkCover Queensland, Office of Industrial Relations, CheckUp, Queensland Health, Rio Tinto, The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, Queensland Alliance for Mental Health and Health & Wellbeing Queensland.


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