Mental Health Matters Awards 2019

Eight Mental Health matters award winners have been announced for 2019. These individuals and organisations have worked to improve understanding, awareness, service provision and the general mental health of communities in NSW over the previous year.

This year’s incredible winners showcase the amazing work being done across New South Wales to create communities and connections that support people going through difficult times and enable everyone to have the best possible mental health.”

Elizabeth Priestley, WayAhead CEO

Mental Health Matters Youth Award

FLING Physical Theatre for “My Black Dog”


A performance and research project designed to support the mental health of young people in regional locations. The project involves the creation and presentation of a new live work exploring the fictional lives of regional teens and the adults around them such as parents, teachers and school counsellors. The show has been designed for future touring with the hope to take it to regional towns across NSW in 2020.

Mental Health Matters Community Initiative Award

Jewish Suicide Prevention Strategy (JSPS), initiated and coordinated JewishCare NSW


The first and only Jewish specific suicide prevention strategy in Australia, the Jewish Suicide Prevention Strategy (JSPS) was developed in response to a number of people attempting and taking their own lives within the community. A steering committee was formed, comprising representatives from 20 communal organisations, including local Jewish schools, Rabbis, Jewish crisis and emergency medical services, and Jewish Youth Groups and mainstream organisations.

Aboriginal Social and Emotional Wellbeing Award

Warranggal Dhiyan (Strong Families) program, Gunida Gunyah Aboriginal Corporation


The Warranggal Dhiyan (Strong Families) program is an intensive management and support package program for individuals and families who are in regular contact with the criminal justice system and may be at risk of becoming incarcerated. The program also supports individuals who have been released from incarceration, with an aim to reduce the rate of recidivism. The program aims to offer support to individuals and families that may not be at risk of incarceration but are in adverse contact with the system.

Outstanding Achievement in Mental Health Promotion Award

Mission Australia, Connections Program – Reducing Loneliness in Far West NSW

Broken Hill

The Connections Program is an out-of-hours social connection program wholly staffed by Peer Support Workers with a lived experience of mental ill health. Access to out-of-hours services is a particular issue in the Broken Hill community, creating a reliance on emergency and crisis services. In order to address this issue, Mission Australia and the far West Local Health District, in partnership with consumers and family and carer groups, co-designed the Connections program to provide people with a bridge between inpatient services and the community.

Leadership through Lived Experience Award

Katherine Gill, FND Australia Support Services


For decades, Kate has been using her lived experiences of services, and of slipping through sector gaps, to advocate for others in similar situations and improve system responses to the needs of people with complex and poorly understood mental illnesses. Most significantly Kate established the first and only charity to advocate for and offer support to meet the needs of people with Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) through FND Australia Support Services Inc.

WayAhead Workplaces Wellbeing Award

The Freelance Jungle


The Freelance Jungle began with a humble survey on freelance challenges and gatherings to bring people together. It has now grown to a brimming Facebook group, and face-to-face networking events in Sydney, Wollongong, Newcastle, Central Coast, Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne and Adelaide. It includes a focus on education and knowledge share through a variety of online community platforms, content sources and coaching avenues. The Freelance Jungle focuses on reminding self-employed people stress has a productivity cost, ending the isolation inherent in the freelance world and raising the knowledge bar for Australian freelancers everywhere.

NSW Mental Health Commissioner’s Award

Dr Jonathan Ho

Wagga Wagga

Dr Jonathan Ho is a GP based in Wagga Wagga who is passionate about helping people through trauma, the justice system, drug and alcohol addiction and mental ill-health. He sees it as a privilege to better understand people by creating a safe environment in which they can safely share their emotions. Much loved in his community, he is renowned for his empathy and focus on holistic, patient-centred care.