PM awards dual winners of Australian Mental Health Prize

Christine Morgan and Joe Williams

Two mental health advocates tackling suicide prevention have been named joint winners of the 2019 Australian Mental Health Prize at UNSW Sydney last night.

Joe Williams, a Wiradjuri man and passionate community advocate for mental health suicide prevention, and Christine Morgan, Australia’s first national suicide prevention advisor, have been announced dual winners of the 2019 Australian Mental Health Prize.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison presented the winners with their awards at a ceremony at UNSW Sydney on Wednesday night.

The Prize, now in its fourth year, was established through UNSW Medicine’s School of Psychiatry to recognise people who have made outstanding contributions to the promotion of mental health or the prevention and treatment of mental illness. 

This year’s winners were chosen out of a field of seven finalists that included counsellor and author Connie Boglis; Sue Murray, Managing Director of the Zero Suicide Institute of Australasia; founder of the Black Dog Institute and UNSW Scientia Professor Gordon Parker AO; Aboriginal mental health advocate Donna Stanley; and CEO of Ambulance Victoria Associate Professor Tony Walker.

Ita Buttrose, Chair of the Australian Mental Health Prize Advisory Group said the Australian Mental Health Prize had established itself as an important platform to recognise those making a significant contribution in mental health in this country.

“This year’s winners and finalists demonstrate the diverse and deeply compassionate work being undertaken in many challenging areas across this nation,” she said.

Scientia Professor Henry Brodaty, from UNSW Medicine’s School of Psychiatry, said that “Australia leads the way internationally in many aspects of mental health and it is important to shine a light on those who dedicate so much of themselves to continually improving our approach in this area." 

Professor Brodaty emphasised the importance of dedicating more resources to the overburdened psychiatric system, including implementing "aftercare for at least three months after people try to take their life."

"This year’s dual winners showcase the significant and collective work being done that we should all be proud of and grateful for,” said Professor Brodaty.

For profiles on the winners, read the story in the Newsroom.

The Australian Mental Health Prize was established in 2016 by UNSW Medicine's School of Psychiatry, Australia’s pre-eminent psychiatric research department. It recognises outstanding Australians who have made major contributions to either the promotion of mental health, or the prevention and treatment of mental illness.

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