News • 11 Sep 2023

2023 QLD Mental Health Achievement Awards Finalists Announced 

Queensland Mental Health Week Achievement Awards - audience throwing and catching their masks

Open Minds is pleased to announce that 33 finalists have been shortlisted from a large volume of nominations for the 27th Queensland Mental Health Week Achievement Awards, with prize money available for all category winners.  

The finalists have all demonstrated a commitment to improving the lives of Queenslanders living with mental illness, and all now have a chance of winning cash prizes to continue their great work in the sector. 

The Awards, Queensland’s only state-wide mental health awards, recognise and celebrate individuals, groups and organisations working diligently to reduce stigma and support and empower those living with mental illness. 

Open Minds has been hosting the Awards for the past 27 years to celebrate the often-unsung heroes working to improve mental health in Queensland. 

The winners of each of the 11 categories will be announced during the Awards breakfast ceremony on Friday 13th October at Victoria Park Brisbane.  

New to 2023 is that all categories now come with prize money, providing a total prize pool of $9,500: a record amount of prize money to enable the worthy winners to continue their work in mental health. 

Each of the 11 category winners will be awarded $500 in prize money, and the overall winner will be awarded the Earle Duus Memorial Award, receiving $4,000 prize money. 

The finalists of each of the 11 categories are:   

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award – Sponsored By Richmond Fellowship Queensland 

Leichhardt One Mile Community Centre (LOMCC)  – works to improve the education, support and connections for first nation people. This is achieved through working with vulnerable persons with challenges including domestic and family violence, mental illness, income access, and referrals to housing services. 

selectability (Palm Island) – Mahie Club – providing culturally safe services and programs to improve the mental wellbeing of locals and to reduce stigma. Mahie Club was created in 2022 to allow people to get hands-on in the kitchen, whilst enjoying a cuppa and a yarn. 

13YARN Crisis Support Service – the first national 24/7 crisis support line for mob who are feeling overwhelmed or having difficulty coping. 13YARN also builds capacity for First Nations peoples, and creates opportunities in the community for continued care and support. Collaborator acknowledgement: Lifeline Australia.

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Award – Sponsored by Queensland Health 

Ethni – Big Sis program – a peer mentoring program supporting young women experiencing social isolation or domestic family violence. It was co-designed and delivered by, for, and with, young women from CALD backgrounds. The program includes a combination of one-on-one mentoring and monthly social activity days. 

Unify Intercultural Australia  – since 1992, has assisted over 80,000 refugee/migrant families across regional North Queensland. 80% of staff have a lived experience of refugee/migrant life. Unify also worked with Mentally Healthy City Townsville to develop the seven ways to wellbeing for CALD communities. 

Fortify Health Group – Multicultural Mental Health Clinical Care Coordination – a student model that has increased its community mental health services to reach more people from CALD backgrounds. It considers the impact of culture and language; increasing the confidence and capability of the mental health sector to support  CALD communities. Collaborator acknowledgement: Settlement Services International.

Early Years Award – sponsored by Gallagher Bassett 

Oxenford/Coomera Community & Youth Centre – Family Support Program – helping kids aged 0 to 5 learn and grow with activities like sports and cooking. For parents, there’s a wealth of resources; the Centre believes the best way to support kids is by supporting and educating parents. 

Catherine’s House for Mothers, Babies and Families – provides perinatal and infant mental health services from early intervention to acute mental health inpatient treatment. Includes community services such as psychology and psychiatry, day programs such as Circle of Security and Mindful Movement, and inpatient services such as a mother-baby unit. 

Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service – Mindful Mums Group Program – Developed by a midwife and mental health nurse to provide pregnant women with an introduction to, and an opportunity to practice mindfulness in a facilitated, supportive group setting. By incorporating peer support, Mindful Mums promotes a sense of community. Collaborator acknowledgement: Amber Jenkins (Midwife), Josie Greaves (Midwife), Julie Ross (Midwife).

Jeff Cheverton Individual Award – sponsored by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists 

Helen Webster – has worked with vulnerable people in North Brisbane for over 30 years as a mental health nurse and volunteer. Helen has pioneered recovery-focused programs for people with severe mental illness and collaborated with individuals to co-facilitate programs and activities.

Nick Coriat – Don’t Quit on Me Podcast – a lived experience show hosted by Nick, who lives with complex PTSD and chronic pain. It aims to destigmatise the experience of working through mental health challenges, whilst helping people to normalise the journey, instilling hope and belief that recovery is possible. 

Grant Westthorp – Well Man Coordinator – Grant has lived experience and has assisted thousands of men to overcome mental, physical and social distress. Well Man reflects information, strategies, inspiration, practical tips and life skills gathered from Grant’s personal journey and from men that Grant has worked with. 

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

Hike to Heal Australia Inc – run an annual scavenger hike: a walking event for the community to come together, celebrate life, and remember those lost to suicide and mental illness. A Tribute Tree enables participants to dedicate their hike to a lost loved one. 

CHQ Child and Youth Mental Health Lived Experience Workforce – are committed to putting young people and families at the centre of care. Leveraging from their own lived experiences, the team are passionate about improving services, and bolstering early intervention to strengthen recovery prospects for young people, cultivating brighter futures. 

Savannah Whieldon – has used her own life experiences to pave the way for other peer workers to be able to share their journey in a safe and supportive way, and model this for young people struggling with their own life challenges.


LGBTQIA+ Award – sponsored by headspace 

headspace by Stride – Diverse City – LGBTIQA+ Program – a program to improve young people’s mental health within the LGBTIQA+ community. It is a 6-8 week program where young people discuss topics, engage with peers, and build confidence. Since 2018, it has supported over 1000 young people across QLD. 

Mikarla Teague – an Art Therapist who delivers individual and group art therapy to disadvantaged and low socioeconomic communities, at-risk young people, the LGBTIQAP+ Sistergirl and Brotherboy community, and rural and regional aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities.  

Queensland Council for LGBTI Health – Mental Health Team – providing specialised mental health support, suicide prevention and suicide aftercare for the LGBTIQ+ Sistergirl and Brotherboy communities across Queensland. They provide wrap around care coordination and a variety of Life Skill building workshops and programs.  

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

Neami National – Connect to Wellbeing – links individuals to various mental health supports, including psychological therapies, suicide prevention services, Residential Aged Care Facilities Psychological Therapy, Mental Health Integrated Complex Care, community services and specialist telehealth psychiatry services. Collaborator acknowledgment: North Queensland Primary Health Network.

Queensland Ambulance Service – Mental Health Response Program – Heard and Understood provides suicide awareness training for triple zero operators at the Queensland Ambulance Service responding to a person experiencing a suicide crisis. It is a multi-modal education package utilising the voice of people with a lived experience. Collaborator acknowledgment: Roses in the Ocean.

Youturn – YouConnect Hub – a place where young people, aged 12-25, can connect with others and engage in free programs. Designed in collaboration with young people, and directed by the needs of the community, programs have included art, music, physical activity, and education. Collaborator acknowledgement: headspace Maroochydore.

Not-For-Profit Organisation Award – SME (1-100 Staff) – Sponsored by The Queensland Mental Health Commission

Primary and Community Care Services – a not-for-profit health charity dedicated to enhancing the lives of Queenslanders affected by mental illness. Specialising in community-based mental health services, PCCS provides individualised care coordination, occupational therapy, and social work to those most in need.  

Batyr – a preventative mental health charity, created and driven by young people, for young people (14 – 30 years). The emphasis is on peer-to-peer lived-experience storytelling, mental health literacy education, and stigma reduction.  

Peach Tree Perinatal Wellness – was founded in 2011 by two mothers who had experienced postnatal depression and bereavement of maternal suicide. It now employs 23 staff members and has three Parent Wellbeing Centres to connect people to community, treatment, and support.  

Schools Award – Sponsored by CheckUP 

Agnes Water State School – Thriving Minds are Smiling Minds – a holistic school-wide mindfulness program that is underpinned by the Department of Education Student Learning and Wellbeing Framework, focusing on resilience, compassion, and kindness. Students and staff are equipped with mindfulness tools to enable them to thrive in their lives. Collaborator acknowledgement: Smiling Mind – Dr Addie Wootten CEO.

St Peter Claver College – Mental Health and Wellbeing Initiative – a student-led movement that ensures students can access a range of support. Student ideas are expressed through artwork displayed at the college, and the messages are shared by students in assemblies, classes, lessons, and on the playground. Collaborator acknowledgment: Ricco Vaoa Webster and Louise Hinds (students).

Brisbane State High School – Student Wellbeing Support – has recently added a GP on site, student access to provisional psychologists, an Intensive Support Guidance Officer, and a Youth Health Nurse. The team also work with all Year 10, 11 and 12 students to offer one-on-one learning mentor sessions. 

Workplace Award – Employee Wellbeing – sponsored by Office of Industrial Relations 

Darling Downs Health – With over 7,000 staff, the physical and psychological wellbeing of staff is a key focus. There are numerous programs, strategies, and training including the mental health wellbeing framework, workplace rehabilitation and return to work process, wellbeing workshops, and psychological safety training. 
Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service – Reflective Practice Group (RPG) Program – facilitated groups by specially trained clinicians across a range of clinical areas. In an associated research collaboration with USC, a correlation has been observed between RPG attendance and positive staff wellbeing. 

Cooper Grace Ward Lawyers – is committed to mental health, diversity and inclusion as an integral part of the organisation’s values and culture. Cooper Grace Ward Lawyers has implemented policies and programs across the firm, led by both the Wellness Committee and the Diversity Committee. 

Workplace Award – Community Wellbeing – sponsored by Queensland Country Bank 

Wheels of Wellness Ltd (WoW) – Community Wellbeing – provides services, support and assistance to homeless people, many of whom experience mental illness. WoW has established a safe space for people to get respite from the weather, from the troubles they are experiencing, and a community for those who attend.  

selectability – BikeShed – a program to help regional Queenslanders overcome loneliness; a key trigger for suicide; and get more active. Loosely based on the Men’s Shed concept, BikeSheds are community-based facilities providing a welcoming, safe space for people to connect, focusing on intervention and the promotion of positive social behaviour. 

Tropical Brain & Mind Foundation Inc. – Mentally Healthy City Townsville – facilitators Cathy O’Toole and Meredith Wenta delivered a series of Round Tables to develop posters featuring the seven ways to wellbeing for older persons, CALD communities, higher education, education leaders, teachers and wellbeing staff, and high school and tertiary students. Collaborator acknowledgment: Qld Mental Health Commission Grant in collaboration with Townsville City Council Community Grants.

Open Minds thank and acknowledge the 2023 Achievement Awards sponsors: headspace, RFQ, WorkCover Queensland, Office of Industrial Relations, CheckUP, Queensland Health, Gallagher Bassett, RANZCP, Queensland Country Bank, Qld Alliance for Mental Health and major sponsor: Queensland Mental Health Commission. The 2023 Awards were also made possible with funding support from the Gambling Community Benefit Fund. 

Tickets available now 

Tickets are available for the Queensland Mental Health Week Achievement Awards breakfast, and selling fast. Purchase tickets now.

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