News • 08 Sep 2021

Congratulations finalists of 2021 QLD Mental Health Achievement Awards!

Congratulations to the finalists who have been shortlisted in the 2021 Queensland Mental Health Week Achievement Awards – for their incredible work and achievements in mental health!

Congratulations to the finalists who have been shortlisted in the 2021 Queensland Mental Health Week Achievement Awards – for their incredible work and achievements in mental health!

Open Minds is delighted to congratulate our shortlisted finalists in the 2021 QLD Mental Health Week Achievement Awards.

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

Open Minds has been hosting the QLD Mental Health Week Achievement Awards since its conception in 1996, to celebrate the often unsung heroes working to raise awareness and reduce stigma of mental illness.

2021 marks the 25th year of the Awards running.

The panel of judges shortlisted the finalists from a record number of nominations submitted this year.

The winners of each of the 11 categories will be announced during the Awards Breakfast Ceremony on Friday 15th October at the Brisbane Convention Centre.

Tickets will be on sale soon, subscribe to our newsletter to be kept in the loop of when they go on sale!

Some of the categories come with prize money to enable the winner to continue their fantastic work in mental health.

Additionally, the overall winner is awarded the Earle Duus Memorial Award and receives a $4,000 prize to continue their incredible work in mental health.

Paula Mayson, CEO of Open Minds said: “This year we saw a record number of entries for the awards, and they were of a very high calibre.

“Just being a finalist is a huge achievement in itself, and our 2021 finalists should be very proud of themselves.

“The awards ceremony is a great way to acknowledge those working hard to really make a difference to the lives of those with mental illness.”

The finalists of each of the 11 categories are:

Jeff Cheverton Individual Award – sponsored by QLD Alliance for Mental Health

Ailsa Whitehead AM 

Ailsa Whitehead AM has instigated many mental health carer support initiatives throughout Queensland over the last 40 years. Her own personal family experiences gave her the understanding and the drive to improve the lives of carers. Along with another carer, the Arafmi Telephone Support Line was set up by sharing their phone numbers to carers. From these humble beginnings, the 24-hour phone line continues to operate state-wide. Ailsa is the longest serving volunteer and has just retired at the age of 94.

Dr Tahnee Bridson

Dr Tahnee Bridson was inspired to become a psychiatrist following the suicide of her friend and mentor. In addition to her work as a doctor in Far North Queensland caring for those with mental illness, Tahnee also volunteers to run Hand-n-Hand Peer Support Inc. which she founded in March 2020. This started as an idea, but with the encouragement of health leaders Professor Patrick McGorry, the Black Dog Institute and others, evolved to now provide support to 2000 healthcare workers nationwide.

Professor Brett Emmerson AM 

Professor Emmerson AM is Executive Director Metro North Mental Health. Brett’s career and contribution to the sector over many decades has shown dedicated to public service and to enhancing the lives of people with mental illness. Brett is the co-author of 52 academic publications, contributing to evidence of what supports recovery. This included a paper on the Indigenous approach to wellbeing. Among many awards, Brett received a Gold Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Service Achievement Award for the best comprehensive mental health service.

Jude Bugeja – Peer Experience Award – Sponsored by RANZCP

Happy Chat – Stanthorpe Mental Health Peer Support Group 

Happy Chat is an independent, grass-roots and community-led self-help peer-support group comprising vulnerable individuals with mental illnesses. The primary purpose is to address social isolation, boredom and loneliness by creating a safe space where informal friendships can emerge. Happy Chat is run by volunteers, most of whom are unpaid carers. For many, Happy Chat is their only opportunity to connect, exchange information and socialise with other people. Happy Chat is about giving people a sense of belonging to community.

Jesse Cotter

Using her lived experience, Jesse is a youth mental health advocate and currently works for headspace national on the youth reference group, whilst studying to be a social worker. During 2020, she initiated a school program which connects senior students with a lived experience, to junior students having troubles at school. She continues to be involved with this beyond her schooling as a volunteer and is also camp coordinator for women’s empowerment group, Girl Shaped Flames.  Jesse first started as a  member of the consumer voice consortium panel with the PHN and is now part of the regional youth advisory group at the Brisbane North PHN, working on projects to improve services commissioned by the PHN.

Hand-n-Hand Peer Support Inc.

Doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers have increased rates of burnout, mental illness and suicide. In March 2020, Hand-n-Hand was set up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic by a doctor in Far North Queensland. The group gained over 400 participants in less than 24 hours, indicating the need for grassroots, peer led initiatives. It’s a free peer support program which began in Queensland but has expanded to healthcare workers nationwide, who are matched to a peer from a similar field/training level.

Early Years Award – sponsored by Rio Tinto

Accoras – attachment-based support 

Accoras has identified a gap in services and supports provided to infants experiencing early life adversity and trauma through disrupted caregiver attachment. Responding to this, Accoras is self-funding a pilot of the Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-Up (ABC) intervention an internationally endorsed, evidence-based infant mental health program for supporting caregivers and infants who have experienced adversity. The program is delivered in home, immersed in daily household life, delivering contextualised, real-time feedback on caregivers’ actions. Randomised controlled studies have demonstrated ABC to be effective in improving infant outcomes and improving infant-parent attachment quality.

Early Social and Emotional Wellbeing Service at Stride Kids 

Stride Kids’ ESEWS was established in collaboration with leading experts in infant and parental mental health. The aim of the program is to provide a targeted and evidence-based intervention that would improve the emotional and social wellbeing of young children aged 0-4 years, and their families. Stride Kids have achieved this through the collaborative and coordinated approach to service delivery, whilst embedding their services within the local community to provide a service that improves outcomes for families with infants and young children.

Zero to Four Family Support Service 

The Zero to Four Family Support Service has a 40 year history of providing child and family support, including parenting support to vulnerable families. The service offers a unique volunteer intervention which is supported by an infant mental health stance and assists children to have the best start in life. The service contributes to mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention for infants and their families. Trained home visiting volunteers support children and their families in the community, through the early years of life.

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

Outback Futures 

Outback Futures (OBF) evolved in the bush with the bush, and it prioritises supporting remote Queensland communities to own and strengthen their mental health and wellbeing. OBF’s clinical teams consist of Psychology, Counselling, OT, Speech and language, and Learning/literacy support, ensuring a holistic range of service. With a child and family focus, and a unique combination of multidisciplinary face to face clinical work and consistent interim telehealth, it is seeing increased resilience and strengthened rural communities.

TUFMINDS Life Rescue 

The free TUFMINDS smartphone App ensures access 24/7. The platform is  user-friendly, confidential and private with a focus on self-recovery and self-management, preventative self-care and real-time interventions. Located in Mackay but available nationwide, the TUFMINDS program ensures support is available anywhere, anytime – and crises usually occur when medical help is not immediately available. TUFMINDS strongly supports the vulnerable, disadvantaged, and rural people that have difficulty accessing help, to give people the tools to participate fully in social and economic life.

Upbeat Arts / Absolutely Everybody Choir program 

The Absolutely Everybody Brisbane Choir engages with adults who are chronic long term mental health clients referred by Brisbane Metropolitan Mental Health Services and NGOs. The choir model has a strong focus on Life Skills development, performance and the participation of Choir Buddies who act as mentors, role models and providers of social and emotional support to members. Now in its 7th year, this unique model sets it apart from community choirs and achieves improvement in the mental health and well-being of participants.

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

Mind Australia with Bupa for Wellbeing 4 You Programme 

Mind Australia is working in partnership with Bupa to deliver Well-being 4 You in Queensland – a community based mental health service which is an alternative to hospital inpatient care. It was established in response to an individuals’ preference to access mental health care in the community (reducing overnight admissions), to improve health outcomes, to reduce costs and to aid in sustaining deinstitutionalisation. The service is an example of how a Health Fund and NGO work together in partnership that delivers the best possible outcomes individuals.

New England North West Limited (HealthWISE) 

HealthWISE is a provider of primary mental health services to vulnerable and marginalised individuals. Servicing regional and remote, youth, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the team includes psychologists, mental health nurses, social workers and lived experience workers. HealthWISE promotes health literacy, and works to reduce stigma and enhance access to services. Its Lived Experience and Peer Workers inform practices around recovery oriented healthcare, ensuring a client-centred approach.


selectability works to improve the mental wellbeing of regional Queenslanders and contribute to suicide prevention. Over the last 5 years, selectability has delivered 900,000 hours of support to enhance the quality of life and wellbeing of 2,500 regional Queenslanders living with mental illness. selectability believes that all regional Queenslanders have the right to access quality mental wellbeing support regardless of where they live. selectability supports people to secure housing, employment to connect to their community, live more independently, and make positive choices.

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

Ability Enterprises Limited 

Ability Enterprises employs 89 staff all identifying with having a lived experience of mental health. Ability Enterprises tenders for commercial contracts and staffs and manages these contracts to support a safe work environment for those with a lived experience to seek help and engage with professional services whilst earning a liveable wage. Over the past 10 years, clients and stakeholders are challenged to change their beliefs and personal biases around employing people who live with mental illness.

Cooper Grace Ward 

Cooper Grace Ward’s Wellness Committee has a focus on the delivery of programs that promote and enhance mental health and wellbeing of team members. Legal professionals are at high risk of suffering from psychological distress and illness, hence the importance of supporting and promoting mental health in the workplace. The Wellness Committee Chairperson, is one  of the few lawyers in Australia who is also a qualified Mental Health First Aid Instructor, accredited through Mental Health First Aid Australia.

Arches Accommodation Supports 

Arches Accommodation Supports provide young people in care secure and safe residential placement. Arches provides the young people with a transitional service to build on capacity to either transition back home to family, independent living, or foster care. At the time of entry, the young people are often experiencing suicidal ideation, self-harm, eating disorders, borderline personality disorders, and many other complex diagnoses. Arches work one-on-one during a 6-month to 12-month transitional period with a client-centred approach using therapeutic care to build on the capacity of the young person.

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

North and West Remote Health (NWRH) 

NWRH is a niche health service provider focusing on providing much needed mental health support to people in regional, rural, remote and very remote areas. It is committed to supporting local communities and building local capacity to respond to health needs. This is done through the provision of job opportunities, training and education, and a network of supportive peers, as well as the delivery of health services. NWRH provides its staff with a range of opportunities to look after, prevent and address mental health.

Queensland Ambulance Service, Mental Health Response Programs 

Last year the QAS responded to over 60 000 people experiencing a Mental Health Crisis. First responders play an important role in how a person recovers from a mental health crisis. The QAS Mental Health Response Program facilitates the provision of timely, appropriate and consumer focused care to people in crisis, and those recovering from a mental health crisis. The program is informed by people with a lived experience of mental health crisis and the services have been developed to address these needs.

Wesley Mission QLD 

WMQ’s Supporting Mental Health in the Workplace initiatives is a wholistic approach to workforce mental health. It has a designated Workforce Wellbeing Manager to oversee and drive the program to create a sense of value, belonging and overall connectedness of the WMQ workforce. The program includes a Wellness Advisory Group. A Workforce Health and Wellbeing Framework exists that speaks to and supports the 4 domains of Workplace wellbeing (Healthy Connected: Culture / Mind & Spirit / Body / Workplace). WMQ also offers flexible working arrangements where possible.

LGBTI+ Award – sponsored by The Queensland Council for LGBTI Health

Brisbane Pride Incorporated 

Brisbane Pride Incorporated is a volunteer team that lead meaningful mental wellness partnerships and events to improve mental health and connection to social support and services for LGBTIQ+ people. As a Mental Wellness partner, it has introduced the Mental Health Connectors to Brisbane Pride Fair Days, a chill out space. It also hosts the Pride Wellness and Resilience webinars and the Art Therapy activates to draw LGBTIQ+ people closer together in connection and belonging.

Northern Beaches State High School 

NBSHS established an LGBTIQ+ group for all students, called R-ally (Rainbow Allies) which plays an important role in student wellbeing, and in creating supportive, inclusive environments. R-ally has been embraced and championed by staff who have undertaken further training and responsibility to ensure the group is sustainable and student-led. R-ally’s first major project included planning an event for IDAHOBIT day. The event invited agencies including PFlag, Headspace Rainbow Group and Ed-Linq Child Youth and Mental Health. These agencies provided a range of resources that focused on mental health and promoting and celebrating inclusivity.

Queensland Children’s Gender Service 

The Queensland Children’s Gender Service (QCGS) aims to improve the health, wellbeing, and function of Queensland children diverse in gender identity. The service seeks to co-create treatment plans with the young person, their parents/legal guardians and the team to reduce gender dysphoria; ameliorate harms related to family attunement, bullying, discrimination and social exclusion; and address psychological distress. The QCGS has proactively engaged consumers, carers and services in co-designing its model of care, delivering clinical services, developing resources, providing training, and raising community awareness across sites and systems throughout Queensland.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award – Sponsored By RFQ

ImpaRa program 

ImpaRa is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention program for young people. In the past three and half years that ImpaRa has been operating, it has worked with close to a thousand participants who have lived and still manage their mental health. ImpaRa has a range of 30 workshops to address cultural, vocational, educational, clinical, social, and emotional needs. These practices are delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait professionals in support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Elders of the community.

North and West Remote Health (NWRH) 

NWRH delivers services to the Aboriginal Communities of Doomadgee and Mornington Island, where integrated mental health and wellbeing services ensure that quality of life is improved. These services deliver culturally competent psychological interventions, that utilise local knowledge, whilst addressing social determinants that impact mental ill health. NWRH has also developed policies and procedures including: NWRH Indigenous Employment Strategy; NWRH Welcome to and Acknowledgement of Country; NWRH Trauma, Grief and Loss Policy; and NWRH Country and Language Matrix.

selectability (Palm Island) 

selectability exists to improve the mental wellbeing of regional Queenslanders and contribute to suicide prevention. Its programs emphasise self-determination and the belief that individuals identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander have the right to live a healthy, safe life with strong connections to culture, spirituality, land and ancestry. When planning an individual’s services and support, selectability uses a culturally-adapted Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) called a ‘Staying Strong Plan.’ This is a structured mental health recovery tool that uses Indigenous specific content and imagery.

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Award – Sponsored by QMHC

Harmony Place 

Harmony Place (The Multicultural Centre for Mental Health & Wellbeing) is a multicultural organisation that provides specialised mental health to CALD communities in Logan and Brisbane. The workforce is a team of multicultural mental health support facilitators and therapists, including counsellors, provisional psychologists, registered psychologists, clinical master student psychologists, social workers and community service workers, who are committed to improving mental health outcomes in the CALD community. Harmony Place works in partnership with community groups and the broader service system to minimise isolation and create access and equity to services.

Communify Qld ASRA collaboration 

The ASRA Asylum Seeker and Refugee Assistance Collaboration, coordinated by Communify Qld, is comprised of 6 key settlement and mental health agencies in Brisbane who are dedicated the care of the most marginalised people seeking asylum on Bridging visas. Individuals and families are assisted with physical and mental health, housing, emergency relief, and visa advice. This is through a commitment to early intervention, a shared database, wholistic, trauma informed and culturally sensitive care and support. Communify Qld also manages Bardon crisis accommodation for homeless asylum seekers.

Queensland Guangxi Multicultural Communities – QGMC

QGMC is a not-for-profit organisation with a vision for a harmonious, safe and healthy life for all Queenslanders. In addition to cultural exchange and participating in multicultural events and activities with various CALD communities, QGMC has been promoting traditional Chinese healing knowledge and skills through ‘Self-Health Rescue’ project from October 2020 to November 2021. This project includes Mindfulness Training, Tai-Chi and Minority Dancing activities.

Schools Award – Sponsored by headspace

Mentally Flourishing Schools – Mountain Creek State School

Mountain Creek SS has prioritised a planned approach for student and staff mental health and wellbeing.  Following a Wheel of Wellbeing (WoW) intensive training workshop, teachers and guidance officers have progressively developed and expanded the WoW messaging and resources through activities, curriculum, and classroom teaching practices.  The school is putting mental health and wellbeing at the centre of school decision making and WoW thinking and practice has been integrated into school wellbeing and behaviour management policies.

Ryan Catholic College

“Wellness at Ryan” is the College’s strong commitment to prioritising proactive wellness initiatives as part of the development of the academic, social, physical, spiritual and emotional potential of each of the 2000 students from pre to year 12. This commitment is realised through a strategic plan whereby the College consistently prioritises a range of wellness initiatives from large events to daily interactions between staff and students. The aim of this program is to provide safe spaces for learning, expression, mindfulness, and connection.

Tamborine Mountain State High School

As an area with no public transport and very few services, young people have difficulty accessing quality Mental Health care and support. TMSHS developed a designated Wellbeing Hub with a multi-disciplinary team of support and Mental Health professionals. These staff members work in partnership with senior leaders, school staff, parents, carers and the wider community. The TMSHS Wellbeing Team actively delivers supports and activities designed to promote and support the mental health of students. Staff are trained in Youth Mental Health First Aid, Trauma Informed practice, and new developments in Mental Health.

Thanks to this year’s Achievement Awards sponsors

The winners will be announced at the Awards Breakfast Ceremony on Friday 15th October. Tickets will go on sale soon, subscribe to our newsletter to be kept in the loop for ticket sales!

Achievement Awards host, Open Minds, delivers mental health, disability and specialised supports and is a registered NDIS provider. We work to enhance mental health and wellbeing by delivering a range of tailored options focused on our clients’ individual needs.

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