News • 28 Sep 2018

Congratulations to the 2018 QLD Mental Health Week Achievement finalists

It’s their time to shine! Congratulations to the 30 finalists for the 2018 Queensland Mental Health Week Achievement Awards.

30 finalists have been shortlisted for the 2018 Queensland Mental Health Week Achievement Awards, but only 10 will be crowned winners at the ceremony on Friday 12th October 2018.

The Achievement Awards recognise and celebrate individuals, groups and organisations working tirelessly to reduce stigma and support and empower those living with mental illness.

This year, a record number of nominations were received and judged by six prominent mental health sector and industry professionals.

Simon James, CEO of Open Minds, said: “The Awards provide our colleagues in the sector, as well as families, carers, and those with lived experiences, with well-deserved accolades and acknowledgement. Being shortlisted as a finalist in itself is testament to the hard work and dedication these people and organisations have demonstrated towards people living with mental illness. On behalf of everyone at Open Minds, our sincere congratulations to our Awards finalists and nominees, and we look forward to celebrating with everyone at the Presentation Ceremony.”

The 2018 Queensland Mental Health Week Achievement Awards comprises 10 categories. The finalists in each category are:   

Youth Award (25 years and under)

Recognises young people who have made an outstanding contribution to mental health in Queensland through commitment to improving the quality of life of people with mental illness.

Hannah Hyatt

Hannah is a passionate advocate for increasing awareness and education surrounding youth mental health, both locally in Ipswich and on a national level. For the past two years, she has volunteered at headspace Ipswich, often sharing her own lived experiences with mental illness at schools and forums to encourage people to understand and take care of their mental health, and challenge stigma and misconceptions. Hannah was recently selected to work on the Headspace National Youth Reference Group.

Madison Birtchnell

Madison’s mission is to make genuine and tangible change in mental health, social justice and humanitarian issues. Her belief is that every person should be valued, respected, included – that we should always show another person kindness and understanding. Madison has enacted change at grassroots level through education, creating awareness and positive social change. For 11+years she has worked tirelessly to reduce stigma, whilst providing support and empowering those living with mental illness.

Taran Jason Lee

Taran has had his own challenges with anxiety; and had a difficult time growing up having left home early due to family challenges. Despite all of these challenges, Taran has developed as a person and has become a motivated personal trainer who has been through a journey of transformation both physically and mentally. Taran has also engaged in numerous fundraising events for charities addressing issues around anxiety, depression and mental illness.

Individual Award

For individuals who have contributed to mental health in Queensland through commitment to improving the lives of Queenslanders living with mental illness, and by promoting their inclusion in the broader community.

Adam Lo

Adam has devoted his 17 year career as a mental health Occupational Therapist, to early intervention, mental health promotion, and community development. He founded the Positive Mindset Creative Arts Festival to promote mental wellbeing and reduce the stigma of mental illness and addiction issues in young people from both primary and secondary schools.

Madison Birtchnell

Madison is passionate about raising awareness of mental illness and contributing to the community.  Through events, educational programs and speaking opportunities, Madison highlights the services and programs available to those with mental health concerns and the importance of awareness and early intervention. She strongly believes in the promotion of an individual to seek assistance for their mental well-being.

Justin Chapman

Justin began working as a peer-support worker in 2011, where he developed and implemented peer-support and exercise programs for people with mental illness. With a focus on the benefits of exercise for individuals recovering from poor mental health concerns, Justin developed Lifestyle Intervention Program ‘Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds’.  This program has been embraced by mental health organisations across Brisbane. 

Jude Bugeja Peer Experience Award

Recognises those with direct experience with mental illness and who demonstrate a significant contribution to improving the lives of people with mental illness and their families and/or carers.

Peach Tree Perinatal Wellness

Peach Tree Perinatal Wellness provides peer-led support for parents experiencing poor mental health during pregnancy and early parenthood. Through personal lived experience, portraying stories of hope and recovery, Peach Tree peer workers hold sensitively the often chaotic and broken space shared with them by mothers in desperate need of empathy and non-judgemental understanding. Families find in Peach Tree a deeply compassionate support service where the team have experienced similar hardships, uncertainty, and heartache – providing a warm ray of sunshine for families to hold.

Amanda Waegeli

Amanda has an ongoing dedication to the ‘Hearing Voices Movement’. Her passion, use of her own story, and ability to see the potential in others has inspired hundreds of voice hearers, carers and mental health workers. Her spoken, filmed, musical, and written work has increased awareness and understanding of what it’s like to hear voices, and how to live with these experiences in a recovery oriented way. Amanda is currently one of very few independent peer specialists in Australia offering this support.

Verity Cast 

Verity is author of the 2018 book “Challenging The Black Dog”, a creative journal specifically written for Young Adults (15-25) dealing with depression. Verity used her 25 years lived experience with mental illness to write the book. The book encourages a word-of-mouth promotion of mental health conversations between people who live with depression and those around them. The book has been described by critics as intimate guide to self-discovery, constructive change and recovery.

Media Award

This category recognises excellence in positive portrayal and awareness of mental health related media that is thoughtful, interesting, impactful, and responsibly written.

ABC – All in the Mind – Parenting with a mental illness

All in the Mind – Parenting with a mental illness is an episode of radio and podcast, broadcast in 2017. A parent managing their own mental health can make parenting difficult. It can be sad and confusing for kids too, who often take on a caring role. The episode includes an interview with the author of a children’s picture book: My Happy Sad Mummy, which gives kids an insight into their parent’s bipolar disorder, and a mother and daughter reflect on their relationship.

headspace day campaign 

The headspace day advertising campaign aimed to increase mental health literacy of young people and their families and friends, reduce stigma, and remind people that maintaining mental health and well-being is important for all – not just those who are mentally unwell. The campaign was run across TV, Radio, digital, social media platforms, through events, and through social media influencers and celebrities that young people look up to. 

ABC – “You Can’t Ask That”

ABC – “You Can’t Ask That” is a series that focuses on misunderstood and marginalised Australians, allowing interviewees to answer hard questions in their own words. Two ground-breaking episodes from series 3, feature the first-person voices of Australians living with Schizophrenia and Eating Disorders. The episodes aim to empower and celebrate their experiences and to break down stigma, reduce inequality and discrimination, and increase understanding of mental health. 

Not-for-Profit Award SME (1 to 100 staff)

For SME organisations that provide mental health related services, programs, projects or initiatives to improve the quality of life of those living with mental illness and by promoting their inclusion in the broader community.

Bayside Initiatives Group Inc (BIG)

BIG is a peer led organisation, promoting the importance of lived experience, peers in peoples mental health recovery journey. BIG offers many activities and events encouraging inclusion, wellbeing and quality of life. Including dinners/outing, community BBQ’s, Mind In Art program, Belong LGBTIQ+, and peer led Hearing Voices group. BIG was the first fully peer-operated organisation in QLD, and has a focus on connection, community and the power of lived experience.

Peach Tree Perinatal Wellness

Peach Tree Perinatal Wellness provides peer-led support for parents during pregnancy and early parenthood. For the past 12 months, Peach Tree has been running a free 6-week program, the Sunshine Parenting Program (SPP), building resilience for mothers with babies under 12-months of age experiencing mild postnatal mental health challenges. To-date, results from mothers have indicated improvements in postnatal mental health symptoms, in addition to feedback highlighting themes of improved connectedness, feelings of social inclusion, and normalisation of postnatal experiences.

Arafmi Ltd

Arafmi Ltd is a community organisation that provides support for families, carers, and people with mental illness or psychiatric disability. Arafmi provides emotional support for family, carers and friends, and accurate information for carers to cope with the demands and pressures of care-giving. Arafmi works to increase community awareness and understanding of mental illness, decrease stigma, and convey the needs of carers and families to healthcare professionals, government and community.

Not-for-Profit Award (Medium to Large 101+ staff)

For large organisations that provide mental health related services, programs, projects or initiatives to improve the quality of life of those living with mental illness and by promoting their inclusion in the broader community.

MDA – Migrant Youth Vision Project

MDA’s Migrant Youth Vision Project (MYVP) is a free support program offering pathways and services for employment, education, training and sport for young people aged 15-24 from migrant or refugee backgrounds. Many young people engaged in MYVP have experienced trauma and experience PTSD. The program provides positive opportunities and civic participation for these young people.

PCYC Queensland – Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds 

PCYC’s Healthy Bodies Healthy Minds (HBHM) is an exercise and nutrition program for people living with, or recovering from, mental illness. It addresses the health disparity experienced by people with mental illness, through the provision of community-based lifestyle interventions delivered by exercise physiologists and dietitians. The program received funding in 2015 and has since expanded to state-wide operation implementation.

Centacare North Queensland

Centacare North Queensland delivers an early intervention program designed to provide easily accessible, free and quality services for people with depression and anxiety. The program aims to assist people who are not currently accessing mental health services, and boasts a 67% recovery rate for those people participating in the program. 

Workplace Award SME (1 to 200 staff)

Recognises SME employers with practices or initiatives that promote positive mental health to all employees, and supports the inclusion of employees living with mental health issues.

Bremer State High School

Bremer State High School, winner from the 2017 Workplace SME category, is once again a finalist for recognition of excellent practices being delivered school-wide in mental health and wellbeing. During 2018, a new building has been created for students and support staff to access the range of services offered. Bremer SHS has provided a number of new programs and initiatives during 2018 for both staff and students, to ensure that mental health and wellbeing remains an important focus.

Gympie Collaborative Network – Mental Health Sub Group

Out of the Gympie Collaborative Network – Mental Health Sub Group, the idea came to create a short film around Mental Health. The 10-minute film, Brainstorm, was created by young people from the Edmund Rice, Gympie Flexi Learning Centre. The film focuses on the effects of social media and its impact particularly on the youth of today, and includes a take away for everyone: a message or useful tip which in turn raises mental health awareness across the wider community. 

Department of Housing and Public Works – The Mental Health Demonstration Project

The Mental Health Demonstration Project (Tenancy Support Program), implemented a housing, mental health and psycho-social support model designed to address gaps in the current service system supporting social housing tenants with mental illness or related complex needs, and better enable them to sustain their tenancies. As a result, HSC staff reported enhanced understanding of the needs of people with mental illness.

Workplace Award Large (201+ staff)

Recognises large employers with practices or initiatives that promote positive mental health to all employees, and supports the inclusion of employees living with mental health issues.

CQUniversity Australia

CQUniversity has a range of initiatives, resources and services to enhance the quality of life wellbeing and inclusion of people with mental illness. The University has recently developed Mind Waves – CQUniversity Mental Health Strategy. The strategy’s purpose is to promote a positive educational experience and mental health via a healthy, resilient and compassionate university community. Through the implementation of the Mind Waves framework, CQUniversity will place an emphasis on recognising the symbiotic relationship between health, education and the workplace. 

Queensland Ambulance Service – Priority One

Winner from the 2017 overarching Earle Duus Award, the Queensland Ambulance Service has a Staff Support Program known as Priority One. This program has been in place for over 25 years and is recognised and accessed by personnel and their families. The program promotes and protects the psychological wellbeing of personnel. This year the program team developed the QAS Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2018-2023 to strategically focus on future direction to mitigate psychological risks.

Metro South Addiction and Mental Health Services – Safety Champions 

MSAMHS is the first addiction and mental health service to implement a long term Safety and Reliability Improvement Program (SRIP) as a part of a partnership program with leading healthcare organisations and the Cognitive Institute. SRIP aims to embed safety and reliability through a series of programs including Speaking Up for Safety™ seminars which provide clinicians with increased ease and motivation to raise safety concerns with their colleagues.


A new category for 2018, recognises people or organisations that work to improve the lives of people who identify as LGBTI and who live with mental illness.

Wesley Mission QLD – Expanded Horizons 

The Expanded Horizons Program provides group and 1:1 support for LGBTIQAP+ youth (or youth questioning sexuality or gender identity). The program offers: QSPACE – for young people (12-17 years) and QPLUS – for youth (18-25 years) with both groups providing resources, guest speakers, peer support and information to enhance pride in identity and buffer against issues of discrimination and homophobia/ transphobia. The programs support young people to access information regarding topics of interest, mental health, sexual health, and support networks.

Rebecca Johnson 

Rebecca Johnson advocates for First Nation LGBTI communities globally, and is focussed on improving mental health and wellness. She shares her life experience and best practice highlighting health, healing acceptance and respect for ourselves. Rebecca undertakes voluntary international and national community work, in a drive to ensure equality and inclusion. As the Co Founder of IndigiLez Womens Leadership & Support Group, She developed and implemented a culturally safe space for peer to peer support, counselling and cultural resilience activities.

Dion Tatow, gar’ban’djee’lum Network

Dion Tatow spends his life committing to developing programs, cultural initiatives and campaigns to build capacity and inner strength of LGBTIQ+SB people and communities of Queensland. Dion is the Chairperson for gar’ban’djee’lum Network, a support group for LGBTIQ+ Sister girl and Brother Boy communities offering emotional safety for LGBTIQ+SB people with lived experience of mental health. They also play a vital role in ensuring care pathways are inclusive and free from fear, trauma and isolation.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award

A new category for 2018, recognises people or organisations that work to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who live with mental illness.

The Institute for Urban Indigenous Health’s MomenTIM

The MomenTIM program was developed to drive improvement in mental health and well-being of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men aged 12-25 years, with direct program activity focussed on community-based initiatives. Delivered by Indigenous men in community, organisations and/or school environments, the program encourages men to engage in strength based conversations about being a man – creating greater understanding and acceptance of personal, cultural/spiritual, physical and mental well-being. 

Stronger Smarter Yarns for life

Stronger Smarter Yarns for life is an empowering suicide prevention program that results in participants realising and accepting that all individuals, when provided with the knowledge, skills and tools have the capacity to support others who are becoming vulnerable. Thus, suicide prevention can be and is everyone’s business. The program promotes the qualities of compassion, humanity and inclusiveness as being key to effective early suicide prevention.

COOEE Indigenous Family and Community Education Centre

COOEE Indigenous Family and Community Education Centre provides cultural education and well-being for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through educating the local and wider community. The Centre is focused on enhancing the quality of life and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who live with mental illness. The Elders and team at COOEE are passionate about making a difference to the lives of individuals and families in community.

Earle Duus Memorial Award – will be presented to our overall winner from our eight categories at the Award ceremony

We would like to thank this year’s Achievement Awards sponsors: Brook Red, Work Cover Queensland, The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP), QuAc, Recovered Futures (RFQ), QLD Health, The Queensland Alliance for Mental Health, the phn Brisbane North, the phn Brisbane South, and the phn Western Queensland.

Tickets are available for the Queensland Mental Health Week Achievement Awards breakfast, on Friday 12th October, 2018, at Brisbane City Hall. Secure your tickets now before they sell out!

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