News • 13 Oct 2023

Queensland’s Mental Health Heroes Recognised – Meet The 2024 Award Winners

At today’s Queensland 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 Queensland Ambulance Service for their Mental Health Response Program, providing suicide awareness training for triple zero operators at the Queensland Ambulance Service responding to people experiencing a suicide crisis.

Queensland Ambulance Service was the winner of the Not-For-Profit Large Award category, as well as the Earle Duus Award which comes with a $4,000 prize to continue their valuable work in mental health.

QAS Director Sandra Garner said acknowledging the work that happens in the mental health sector is important.

“Our emergency medical dispatchers are on the frontline of supporting people’s recovery in mental health crisis, and this award really reflects the important work that they do.”

In attendance, and providing the official welcome to the ceremony, was Her Excellency the Honourable Dr Jeannette Young AC PSM, Governor or Queensland and patron of Open Minds.

Queensland Mental Health Commissioner, Ivan Frkovic officially opened the ceremony and awarded certificates to each category winner.

“Each of the 33 shortlisted finalists are worthy of recognition for their contribution to mental health and wellbeing, demonstrating the value of the work being done by individuals and the sector.” Ivan said.

As host of the Awards for the past 27 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 Executive Officer, Kate Johnson said that she was proud to congratulate Queensland Ambulance Service and the other 2023 winners.

“These winners have shown dedication to mental health, and it is an honour to celebrate these unsung heroes and their achievements in raising awareness and reducing stigma,” Kate said. “Together, we will continue to inspire, innovate, and create a long-lasting culture of mental health excellence.”

Chair of Open Minds Board, Joanne Jessop, acknowledged that each award recipient had made a significant impact, whether through innovative programs, advocacy, or providing essential services.

“It is crucial to host these awards because they shine a much-needed spotlight the excellent initiatives and programs available in Queensland and the overwhelming difference they are making in the lives of countless Queenslanders,” said Joanne.

“A special thanks to our sponsors, particularly our major sponsor the Mental Health Commission, for your partnership and support to deliver the awards to raise awareness of mental health.”

The 2023 Awards continued to attract a high volume of quality nominations, with the panel of judges shortlisting 33 commendable finalists from 88 submissions 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

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 the Queensland Alliance for Mental Health

Hike to Heal Australia Inc

An annual scavenger hike 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. 

Early Years Award – Sponsored by Gallagher Bassett

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. 

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

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.  

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

Queensland Ambulance Service – Mental Health Response Program 

Heard and Understood provides suicide awareness training for triple zero operators at the Queensland Ambulance Service responding people 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.

Workplace Award Employee Wellbeing – sponsored by Office of Industrial Relations

Cooper Grace Ward Lawyers 

Cooper Grace Ward Lawyers is committed to mental health, diversity and inclusion as an integral part of the organisation’s values and culture. Policies and programs have been implemented 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.  

LGBTIQA+ 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 Queensland. 

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

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 Award – Sponsored by Queensland Health

Unify Intercultural Australia 

Since 1992, Unify 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. 

Schools Award – Sponsored by CheckUP

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).

Open Minds thank and acknowledge the 2023 Achievement Awards sponsors: headspace, Richmond Fellowship Queensland, 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. 

Important links:

Full list of finalists & their achievements:

More about the awards:

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